Tan Dun (b. 1957) was born in a small village in Hunan province, attended China’s Central Conservatory and has been based in New York City since 1986. His works encompass an extraordinary variety of influences and styles, from the shamanistic ritual practices of his childhood through Western experimental traditions, classical forms, film soundtracks and multimedia.

These two new violin concertos are the result of an ongoing collaboration with Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing and a mutual interest in the folk traditions of their respective countries. This is Hemsing’s third recording for BIS (in less than 12 months!) and cements her reputation for exciting repertoire. Tan Dun’s Rhapsody and Fantasia (2018) is a six-movement concerto in two sections, Rock the Violin in Rhapsody and A Dream Out of Peking Opera, which are fair indications of the elements at play – rock drums, soaring solos, lush contemplative lyricism, operatic phrases, explosive brass and traditional gongs and percussion – all happily jostling for space.

Fire Ritual: A Music Ritual for the Victims of War (2018) is more sombre, a five-movement concerto rooted in tradition but relentlessly modern. It’s a wonderful vehicle for Hemsing, whose intense, rich tone immediately commands attention as she unfolds long, exquisite phrases with delicacy and precision. Beautifully recorded too, with great presence and just the right crispness.


Composer: Tan Dun
Composition: Violin Concertos
Performer: Eldbjørg Hemsing v, Oslo Philharmonic/Tan Dun
Catalogue Number: BIS BIS2406