Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3


CD: Wind Music

Fu-Tong WONG (b.1948)
Rhapsody of Taiwan
*Rhapsody of Taiwan, for orchestra [9:40]
+In Memoriam, for orchestra [9:06]
*Xi Shi Fantasy, for violin & orchestra [12:23]
Variations on a Theme by Chen' Chu-Shui, for strings [9:25]
Fugato for Strings [5:53]
Su Shien-Ta (violin)
Taipei Sinfonietta (Taipei Philharmonic)/Fu-Tong Wong; *Henry Mazer; +John van Deursen
No recording information provided. DDD
WIND MUSIC TCD5234 [46:20]

Experience Classicsonline

This disc was originally released in 2000. Two CDs of Taiwan-based Cantonese composer Fu-Tong Wong's music were issued earlier this year on his own label, and well received - see reviews here and here. Inexplicably, Taiwanese label Wind Music categorise this one on their website - apparently the most reliable place to source it - under "World and Ethno-Pop Music", which, to put it mildly, is an insult to Wong's musicianship. The music on this release is every bit as good as on those previous ones - there can be no question that Wong - often referred to as Wong Fu-Tong - has an unerring talent for combining beautiful Chinese and Taiwanese melodies, rhythms and inspirations with Western techniques, harmonies and forms into imaginative, passionate, opulent works of immense general appeal.

The first two items, the title track Rhapsody of Taiwan, and In Memoriam, are for full orchestra. In Memoriam is a dramatic tribute in the best tone poem tradition to those who died in Taiwan's bloody history, not least the 1999 earthquake. Rhapsody of Taiwan is more forward-looking, expressing the country's "life force [and] fertile beauty" with lilting sweeps of melody punctuated with triumphant bursts and the odd jig-like episode.

The Xi Shi Fantasy is based on Wong's only opera so far, Xi Shi. The work, which is more or less a violin concerto, consists of four distinct sections that recount the love woes of the eponymous heroine, one of the apocryphal Four Beauties of Ancient China whose loveliness had a tendency to bring ruin upon kingdoms. Wong considers this piece, which was premiered in 1993 at the famous Musikverein in Vienna, one of his signature works, and in it he has attempted to "embody the qualities of Bach's music and Chinese opera" and his aim to combine Eastern and Western ideas in his music. The Bach-Chinese opera fusion is a curious notion, perhaps, but one in keeping with Wong's belief that Bach is "the founder of all compositions", as he writes in his 2004 book Theory on Music. Aptly, this virtuosic work has plenty of drama, but also lyrical pastoralism, dance and rhapsodic beauty. It is beautifully played by Su Shien-Ta. Wong's own version for violin and piano is available on a disc entitled Postcards From China, for a review of which see the second of the two links above.

The final two pieces are for string orchestra alone. The Variations are a homage to a friend of Wong's who died of cancer, an appropriate blend of happy times and sadness, whereas the beautiful Fugato takes its inspiration from ancient Chinese texts. These are lush, quasi British-sounding works: the Fugato is almost Vaughan Williams-like in its pastoralism and is undoubtedly one of Wong's finest.

The orchestral performances here, though hardly faultless, are on the whole pretty decent, good enough in any case not to detract from Wong's lovely music. The Taipei Sinfonietta, now the Taipei Philharmonic, was knocked into terrific shape over two decades by Henry Mazer after he left the Chicago Symphony. His two recordings here must have been among his last - he died in 2001. John van Deursen conducts In Memoriam at a time when he was principal trombonist with the orchestra, and the remaining two works are conducted by Fu-Tong Wong himself.

The CD booklet has 20 pages of notes for those who can read Chinese, but only three in slightly shaky English - really just a brief description of the works and a note on the composer, with nothing on performers. Su Shien-Ta, the soloist in the Xi Shi Fantasy, is only listed in the Chinese section of the notes; in the bilingual track listing his name is given, but the fact that he is soloist is only indicated in Chinese - with the same being true for the conductors. There are several spelling mistakes in the English, with not even Mazer or Wong escaping error-free. The final work is listed as a Fugatto, and Chen' Chu-Shui is transcribed as Zhu Shuei Chen on Wong's own website.

Neither is there any information given on the date(s) or place(s) of recordings. However, sound quality is generally good, although there is variation from one track to another - most notably different is the Xi Shi Fantasy, in which the orchestra and especially the soloist are a bit too far back from the microphones. The booklet does not say explicitly, but these are live recordings, with audience noise adeptly kept to a minimum - just the odd faint cough here and there, and some page-turning in the Xi Shi Fantasy.

The CD producers have regrettably faded down the ends of tracks too quickly - presumably to eradicate the applause - with the result that in some cases the still resounding music is fractionally curtailed in an unnatural manner. The effect is worst in the first track - tracks 2 and 4 are not affected, and tracks 3 and 5 only marginally so. Track 4 has the opposite problem, so to speak: a fraction shaved off the opening. Finally, the CD is almost absurdly short.

Nonetheless, Wong is a superb melodicist and a fine orchestrator - a latter-day Taiwanese Dvorák! - and his music - this CD in particular - deserves the widest of audiences in the West.

Collected reviews and contact at


































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.