Korean-born but a political exile in Germany for the last 25 years of his life, Isang Yun (1917-1995) managed to create a workable synthesis between western and eastern traditions, which fused a musical language based upon the total serialism of the post-war avant garde with elements drawn from both Korean and Chinese traditional styles. The three pieces here, all composed in the 1980s, show just how expressively effective that synthesis could be. In the First Chamber Symphony, it allows Yun to create a richly cushioned sound-world, full of shimmering textures, hazy microtones and supple, swooping gestures, while the rich string layering and urgent melodic writing of Tapis and the evocations of the sound of the Chinese harp in Gong-Hu, for solo harp and string orchestra, create music that is instantly attractive, even if the details of its inner workings are not always obvious.
Isang Yun's second symphony was composed in 1984 and first performed by Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos. Its orchestral setting is smaller than first symphony. Yun used Yin(Dark) and Yang(Light) conception in this symphony. For example, strings and woodwinds are light and angelic dimension. In contrast, brass and percussions are dark and demonic dimension. But these elements fuse in last movement's coda……Chung-Whun Chung @ Amazon.ca
The Cello Concerto, written in 1975/6 for Siegried Palm who plays it here, is a powerful, angry work, with vehement utterances from the cello interrupted or underpinned by violent orchestral outbursts, with some poetic, bird-like woodwind trilling - a typical Yun gesture - buried deep in the texture. The Concerto does go through more appeased moments, although always an underlying tension and sense of pent-up menace. Other typical gestures of Yun are the quarter tone string glissandos you can hear between 4 and 7:00, or the delicately tinkering bells over high-pitch string tremolos at 11:40 announcing a new outburst, or again the ghostly tapestry of string glissandos at 23:30. The Sonata for oboe, harp and viola from 1979 was …..Discophage @ Amazon.com
The concertina rarely features in classical music outside the work of Astor Piazzolla or Pauline Oliveiros, and its use alongside strings in these four pieces is indicative of the Korean composer Isang Yun's (1917-1995) fondness for unusual instrumental combinations. The Taoist principles behind his work are perhaps most evident in the rising figures representing the shift from darkness to light in Duo, or the contrast between the high, bird-like violins and the vibrant chord-clusters of Stefan Hussong's accordion in Concertino.
"A composer cannot view the world in which he lives with indifference. Human suffering, oppression, injustice… all that comes to me in my thoughts. Where there is pain, where there is injustice, I want to have my say through my music." - Isang Yun, 1983
Unlike Mozart's Clarinet Quintet (with masterly descendants by Brahms and Reger), Mozart's Oboe Quartet (one of the most distinguished works of oboe literature) remained without successors for over one and a half centuries. ….. So it was only natural that I should ask two of my closest friends to write something for this at once problematic and fascinating formation. Both composers had already made very significant contributions to the oboe literature: Elliott Carter (who, as a student, played the oboe himself) with such works as the Oboe Concerto, the "Trilogy" for Oboe and Harp and the Italian song settings "Tempo e Tempi"; Isang Yun with his Oboe Concerto, the Double Concerto for Oboe and Harp, the Sonata for Oboe, Viola and Harp, the Inventions for Two Oboes and many other works.
Heinz Holligerfrom the attached booklet
Isang Yun was a Korean-born composer who made his later career in Germany. Yun's primary musical concern was the development of Korean music by the means of Western avantgarde music. After experimenting with 12-tone techniques Yun developed his own musical personality in his works of the early 1960s, post-serialistic "sound compositions". Yun's music employed techniques associated with traditional Korean music, such as glissandi, pizzicati, portamenti, vibrati, and above all a very rich vocabulary of ornaments. Essential is the presence of multiple-melodic lines, which Yun called "Haupttöne" ("central" or "main tones")…..
Isang Yun was a Korean-born composer who made his later career in Germany. Yun's primary musical concern was the development of Korean music by the means of Western avantgarde music. After experimenting with 12-tone techniques Yun developed his own musical personality in his works of the early 1960s, post-serialistic "sound compositions". Yun's music employed techniques associated with traditional Korean music, such as glissandi, pizzicati, portamenti, vibrati, and above all a very rich vocabulary of ornaments. Essential is the presence of multiple-melodic lines, which Yun called "Haupttöne" ("central" or "main tones")….
Yun's composition for symphonic forces started with "sound compositions", i. e. of works, in which homogeneous sound planes are articulated and elaborated: "Bara" (1960) until "Overture" (1973; rev. 1974). A period of discursively structured instrumental concertos followed, beginning with the "Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra" (1975/76), and climaxing with the "Violin Concerto No. 1" (1981). From 1982 until 1987 he wrote a cycle of five symphonies which are interrelated, yet varied structurally. Striving for freedom and peace is above all "Symphony V" for high baritone and large orchestra (1987) with texts by Nelly Sachs. In 1984 he developed also a new, intimiate "tone" in his chamber music.