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Xia Guan: Earth Requiem / Yao Hong, soprano; Liu Shan, mz; Jin Yongzhe, tenor; Sun Li, baritione

Notes & Reviews:

The first Chinese Requiem ever composed, "Earth Requiem" is an enormous work performed in Beijing in 2011 in remembrance of the catastrophic Schuan earthquake in 2008. Renowned Chinese composer Guan Xia scored the requiem for a massive for a 255 performers, including soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone chorus, organ and orchestra. The China National Symphony Orchestra invited the legendary French conductor Michel Plasson to assist in the project, connecting East and West and echoing the inclusive themes of the work.

The conception for this work came when Xia, along with lyricists Lin Liu and Xiaoming Song, traveled to Wenchuan and saw the devastating effecting of the earthquake with their own eyes. They looked upon not only the destroyed houses, but the mourning and displaced families. Xia reflected upon the true meaning of life and how important kindness is along with love and appreciation, and was inspired to write the requiem.

Earth Requiem, divided into four movements, is a journey of thought and emotions. The first movement is a solemn meditation under the night sky, reflecting upon how small humans seem when compared to the universe. The second movement uses "heavenly wind" and "earth fire" to question our endless usurping of nature. Love truth, beauty and kindness take over in the third movement to show how, even in the midst of a tragedy, people are united through love. The requiem ends with the "Wings of Angels," where the suffering souls of those who lost their lives in the earthquake soar in the sky waiting to be received into heaven.

Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2013
Given Michel Plasson's inspired direction and the exceptionally responsive playing of the China National Symphony Orchestra, the music is given every chance to speak for itself, and there is certainly much to impress in it. One only wishes that Guan could have scaled it down a bit.

The Times, 25th May 2013
The piece is like pentatonic Andrew Lloyd Webber, rising to Hollywood-soundtrack portentousness. Michel Plasson conducts enormous forces, including - for one blissfully non-Western interlude - Chinese folk instrumentalists.


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