Bright Sheng - H'un (Lacerations): In Memoriam 1966-76

updated 27 June 2000

Bright Sheng
H'un (Lacerations): In Memoriam 1966-76
Duration: ca 22'

World Premiere: 16 April 1988
New York Chamber Symphony
Gerard Schwarz, conductor
Commissioned by the 92nd Street Y (New York City)


H'un: In Memoriam 1966-76 is emphatically an angry and grieving cry of historical experience, music that vividly recalls the terrors of China's Cultural Revolution while mining the fertile resources of Chinese folk tradition.

Performance History: (April 1988-April 1993)

Critical Acclaim:

[H'un] is a recollection of the Chinese Cultural Revolution by a young composer who lived through it....[It] examines hatred, tyranny, terror and suppression with a naked emotionalism that puts the weight of the composer's experience on the listener's shoulders....[It] describes a battle of the purely musical terms [and] hints that redemption is possible, or even in sight, yet ends with liberation just out of reach....Although...about a specific atrocity, it is also a mirror held up to the world today....The piece is what one would expect of a dissertation on the Cultural Revolution: its atmosphere is dark and somewhat hazy, its harmonies tense and its melodic gestures strained and often stifled. It is full of effects, which range from screaming wind bursts to sighing string figures and occasional flecks of Chinese percussion....Masur's performance conveyed the work's pained expressivity eloquently.
-- Allan Kozinn, The New York Times (1993)

...the performance that outshone all around it was the premiere of H'un...a searing portrait of the Cultural Revolution in China... [H'un is] deeply affecting, even terrifying at times...
-- Allan Kozinn, The New York Times (1988)

Bright one of the more fiery compositional talents on the American scene. H'un is white-hot proof of that talent.
-- Leighton Kerner, New York Village Voice

H'un rips into the consciousness with the knife-blade immediacy of a scream in the night.
-- Connoisseur

...a truly stunning and powerful piece of music....a new work of substantial proportions and shattering eloquence....marvelously powerful...
-- Robert Finn, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Through Sheng's brilliant orchestration and his command of instrumental writing, H'un emerged as a searing tone poem in which emotional states are vividly shown....This is a work that should be regularly performed at political summit meetings, where heads of state discuss warfare and disarmament...
-- Melinda Bargreen, The Seattle Times

...dramatic and expressive, with sharp contrasts of East and West and instrumental voices, as well as rhythmic gestures, thrown at one another and then interwoven with exceptional lucidity and tautness.
-- R.M. Campbell, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

H'un conveyed its message with the utmost urgency, sincerity and power; it signaled the arrival of a significant young composer...
-- John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

...a powerful score...
-- Robert C. Marsh, Chicago Sun-Times


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