This album came to life through a collaboration initiated by cellist/ vocalist Maya Fridman, who invited Lulu Wang and myself to explore the I Ching (The Book of Changes) through poetry and music.
This album came to life through a collaboration initiated by cellist/ vocalist Maya Fridman, who invited Lulu Wang and myself to explore the I Ching (The Book of Changes) through poetry and music. For me it was a great opportunity not only to work with these two very gifted women but also to take a deeper look into this epic work of Chinese literature, perhaps the oldest book on the planet although it felt a bit intimidating at first.
While re-reading the I Ching, which many Chinese refer to as ‘the wisdom of wisdoms’, I realized that, like many mystical writings, this book speaks to us beyond the limitations of our intellectual mind. Just like poetry, it’s not so much about the words, but more the feeling the words evoke connecting us to our own innate wisdom, the wisdom of nature, of which we are a part. In the same way, music is an art form with the power to connect us to this deeper form of being.
With this in mind, music and poetry seem to be the perfect way to explore the eight trigrams, which form the basis of the I Ching. Richard Wilhelm, who translated the I Ching describes the trigrams as follows: “The eight trigrams were conceived as images of all that happens in heaven and on earth. They are symbols standing for changing transitional states; just as transition from one phenomenon to another is continually taking place in the physical world.“
As each trigram represents a specific time of day, the order of the trigrams on this album forms an entire cycle of night and day: we begin at dusk with a love song sung by a lady from the Mosuo tribe to which Maya responds and we end at nighttime with a Lullaby sung by Maya to the words of poet Li Shangyin. These two songs frame the eight instrumental pieces exploring the trigrams. My inspiration for the music came from the emotional aspects attributed to the trigrams. While all pieces reflect the state of continual transition which takes place in the phenomenal world, the seventh piece ‘Earth’ is about stillness, about immutability. For me it is the heart of this musical cycle. The music of Earth is an attempt to convey the timeless space that is never born and never dies, the formless energy that nature, we and all life are part of; the infinite unknown from which everything emerges.
Lulu Wang selected poetry from the Tang and Song Dynasty which are considered the golden age of Chinese arts and culture. Each of the poems reflects the feeling of the trigrams and the related musical piece. By weaving the poetry into the music, the album becomes a tapestry of experiences and moods reflecting upon the eight trigrams.
The music is dedicated to Maya Fridman, an alchemist who, through her deep musical understanding can turn any music into gold. Her sound on the cello speaks from soul to soul. Working with Maya and Lulu on this project has been a dreamlike experience for which I am ever grateful.
Classical – Contemporary (> 1920)
Marion von Tilzer
Tilzer, Marion von
TivoliVredenburg – Hertz Zaal, Utrecht (NL)
July 30th, 2021
"This is particularly spiritual music, with really only one drawback: we don't get to see the ladies play. Because certainly Fridman, as I remarked earlier, you have to see her play. But let me not whine and be glad that this beautiful composition appeared on TRPTK, because what a perfect recording this is! The fact that only the very best suffices for this record company pays off here in two ways."
Ben Taffijn, Nieuwe Noten
"There’s an elusive, almost magical quality to this music that makes lengthy analysis superfluous. The two musicians respond to each other with exquisite sensitivity. Grounded in their intuitive responses to subtle currents stirred by the I Ching, the album’s careful and deliberate progression over a 45-minute total running time makes it especially suitable for late-night contemplative listening."
Mark Werlin, HRAudio
"The music and the performance are both so appropriate to the various elements that are represented on the album. All it left for me to do was the close my eyes and enjoy. Highly recommended!"
"By now, it should be clear that the release is noteworthy for the originality of its concept and the quality of its content. Words and music come together powerfully in this special work, making for one of the most compelling and imaginative releases in recent memory, and the superior musicianship exhibited by Fridman and von Tilzer throughout recommends it alone. It's probably safe to say that nothing quite like it has been released before."
Ron Schepper, Textura