"Symphony 1997: II. Earth (Yi3)" by Tan Dun (performed by Yo-Yo Ma and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra) which clocks in at 9:34
Here's the way I see it: I lost half of you when you didn't recognize the song or artist and I'll be losing another 45% when you realize that this is East meets West classical music. Therefore, let's get that out of the way from the beginning. Go away leeches, you won't like this.
Still here? Alrighty then, here's the plan. First, a bit about the composer. Then, about my personal experience with his work. Lastly, some information about the song you see posted here. The song you hear posted here. The song you may have noticed is posted here, which you may already be listening to, and/or might be hearing at some point in the near future.
Tan Dun is a Chinese composer most widely known for his Academy Award winning work on the score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (as well as Hero) but his artistic output extends far beyond the realm of film. He has written four operas, ten concertos, many other classical pieces (full list HERE) and is hailed by many as one of the top composers alive today. His music has always been firmly rooted in the tradition of his home land while also reaching towards a unique connection between Eastern and Western sounds and musical theory. At least, that's what the late Toru Takemitsu thought:
"The vibrant presence of both East and West within him has created a unique sound world, always personal, always authentic. Every part of Tan Dun's music is violent as a burst of human blood, yet full of grace, a voice of the soul. I believe he is one of the most outstanding composers today."This past Saturday I was one of the fortunate folks in attendance at the matinee performance of Tan Dun's most recent operatic composition, The First Emperor. Now, I dabble in classical music, ballet, and opera from time to time but by no stretch of the imagination am I someone who should be allowed to expound on the topic. I get most of my live music from tiny dark clubs and theaters downtown, and in Brooklyn, not at the Metropolitan Opera. I'm just a simple self-obsessed snark mongerer with pretty stock tastes in indie rock - I couldn't really speak about how impressive I found The First Emperor to be (at times), how amazing the sets and costumes were (photo above of the set from HERE), how dreadful the vocal melodies were, how impressive the voice of the lead actor was to hear in person... Nay! The high society world of operas starring Placido Domingo frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the honking horns of uptown traffic make me want to stop listening to "Chips Ahoy!", take off my iPod, and run off into Williamsburg, or wherever. Sometimes when I hear classical music I wonder: "Did little demons make this music just to put me to sleep?" I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. I'm just a black concert tee and jeans guy. A musical caveman. Therefore, I'll abstain from telling you anything else about how my experience seeing The First Emperor existed in two dimensions (one of fascinated wonder and one of battling the impulse to nod off) and instead I'll suggest you read the review from The NY Times.
Now. What we've got here is failure to elucidate. The song that's posted is not from The First Emperor at all but rather is a selection from Tan Dun's Symphony 1997 (Heaven Earth Mankind). This composition was written to be performed at the reunification ceremony in Hong Kong on July 1, 1997 and features Yo-Yo Ma on cello and a recording of the ancient Bianzhong Bells. It's my favorite of Tan Dun's pieces and, in my opinion, the best example of how well he's been able to combine Eastern and Western classical music to create a condensed classical masterpiece.
Buy Yo-Yo Ma - Tan Dun: Symphony 1997 (Heaven Earth Mankind) HERE on Amazon.
EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Jane's Addiction - "Three Days"
Joanna Newsom - "Monkey & Bear"
Depeche Mode - "Never Let Me Down Again" (Split Mix)
This Mortal Coil - "Dreams Are Like Water"
The Church - “Chaos"
Alex Skolnick Trio - “War Pigs"
Arlo Guthrie - “Alice's Restaurant Massacre"
The Human League - “Morale... / You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.