Uncompromising in his life as he was in his music, Korean composer Isang Yun (1917–95) held fast to his dream of a united Korea, even as he was unjustly accused of espionage for North Korea and sentenced to imprisonment and death. From a life of unimaginable oppression and torture emerges music of raw emotional power, heard onISANG YUN: Sunrise Falling, a centennial commemoration of Yun’s life and music from the PENTATONE Oxingale Series. Maestro Dennis Russell Davies, a longtime collaborator and advocate for Yun, curates the program and conducts the Bruckner Orchestra Linz. A cellist himself, Yun’s fascinating, highly autobiographicalConcerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1975/76) anchors the album. In a live performance, cellist Matt Haimovitz tackles the controlled chaos of Yun’s score, bursting with passion, despair, and new timbral textures, such as the use of a plectrum to emulate the Korean zither, the kŏmun’go. Yun’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 (1981) features violinist Yumi Hwang-Williams, who reflects upon her own emotional return to Korea in 2015, where she performed the work at a Festival in honor of Yun. The double album also includes the orchestral Fanfare & Memorial, and additional illuminating solo works by Yun performed by pianist Maki Namekawa, Hwang-Williams, and Haimovitz. 100 years after Isang Yun’s birth, the two Koreas still teeter on a razor’s edge, with ever more global ramifications. His music opens the gate to a lost, united land, with Yun’s own heart bleeding but ever hopeful.
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Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1976) 1. I 2. (cadenzas) 3. II 4. III
5. Interludium A (1982)
Glissées for Solo Cello (1970) 6. I 7. II 8. III 9. IV
10. Fanfare & Memorial (1979)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 (1981) 1. I 2. II 3. III
Kontraste. Two Pieces for Solo Violin (1987) 4. I 5. II