Tan Dun is one of the best things globalization has produced so far. With Dun the West discovered that China could produce not only cheap and worthless wares but also highly sophisticated luxury products. In this particular case there is no cause to worry about the change.
I had to re-purchase recently Sony’s recording of his opera Marco Polo, because I had lent it to a girlfriend of mine I was very fond of (of course! How could you not be very fond of a girlfriend who’d want to borrow a CD of Dun’s music?), and it turned out that she apparently stuck with me only because she wanted the Dun CD. Thereafter she neve re-appeared. Lesson learned: never lend a CD, if you don’t want to be ditched by your girlfriends.
Of Dun’s music I’ve reviewed far less than I’ve heard, because I started listening to Dun’s music in the mid-1990s (that’s when his big public breakthroug happened), ages before I started publicly reviewing. I’ll try and catch up.
His short “Black Dance”, from Eight Colors for string quartet (1986), is one of the best pieces on the recital in “classical meets dance- and world-music” style by The Smith Quartet, “Dance”, because it is one that metabolizes whichever dance- or world-music source it uses into a fully contemporary language.