Delicious Dim Sum


When is a Sunday brunch more satisfying than a full dinner? When it's a sit-down listen to Dim Sum, the Telarc CD filled with delicious helpings of Chinese-American concoctions served up by the Ying Quartet.

This fascinating CD of short works by eight Chinese-American composers molds the sounds and techniques of traditional Chinese music into music suitable for western string quartet. The program not only makes for a full, meal, but also continually tantalizes the palette with new possibilities.

The four siblings of the Naumberg Chamber Music Award winning Ying Quartet recorded Dim Sum in 2007, when they were Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University. Although one of the four siblings has since left the quartet, as their residency has shifted to the Eastman School of Music, the Dim Sum program remains in their repertoire and is frequently performed on tour.

One listen will confirm why. The CD begins with the beguiling rhythms of Zhou Long's Song of the Ch'in, and ends with three short pieces by Tan Dun that he likens to Chinese brush paintings. In between, we sample multiple savory delights, not the least of which are Vivian Fung's Pizzicato for String Quartet and the galactic space travel whirlwinds of Ge Gon-ru's Fu. I'm especially in love with the exquisite sonorities of Lei Liang's Gobi Gloria, a nine and a half minute piece that spices Mongolian music, both instrumental and vocal, with a Chinese sensibility.