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Ruiqi Wang: Subduing the Silence

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Ruiqi Wang is an artist who gives new definition to the term eloquent lyricism

The apogee of this magnificent disc, Subduing the Silence, by Ruiqi Wang is, unquestionably, the song cycle dedicated to Li QingZhao [1084-1155], the great Chinese poet of the Song Dynasty. Reuniting variations on the heart-soft longing of her Ci-poem, Xiang Leng Jin Ni – a rarity by any contemporary standard – is the fascinating premise of this benchmark recording.

The connection between Miss Wang’s music and the poem by Li QingZhao is so profound it is almost mystical. The textural drama of the poem resounds in the gorgeous melisma of Miss Wang’s pliant voice. The delicately inscrutable emotions of the poem come alive in the subtle dynamics of the vocal. Words melt into eloquence giving way to the melodic unfolding of Miss Wang’s music – sustained and lyrical, even in moments of extremity.

Exquisite artwork by Chelsey Maher for Subduing the Silenceby Ruiqi Wang

Miss Wang’s own song Dream of the Pines is stunning and although the nature and elements of her work are born of Ci-poetry, this song also displays characteristics of Shi-poetry melding the two sensibilities with the deep listening of Pauline Oliveros. Other remarkeble songs include I Am a Tree and Deep Stillness performed by Miss Wang with airy elegance and a pregnant vibrancy.

The fact that Miss Wang can see continuity in the work of Li QingZhao and the incomparable Argentinean poet Alejandra Pizarnik is truly inspired. Fragment for Subduing the Silence is the result of this inspiration. Clearly Miss Wang saw a direct line between Li Qingzhao’s later poetry and that of Miss Pizarnik’s. The gray bitterness unites both poets across the centuries.

For the Zhaos it was the downfall of the Song Dynasty [as a result of the marauding Tartars] and the difficulties they faced after moving South. The sensibility of Li QingZhao’s poetry changed completely after the death of her husband, Zhao Mingcheng from typhoid. Whereas in the case of Miss Pizarnik, who relocated to Paris, her life bitterly lonely and resulted in suicide.

Miss Wang’s stylish artistry is expressive rather than expressionist; lyrical, reflective, always beautifully so. In this regard she masterfully evokes both Li QingZhao’s and Miss Pizarnik’s work with gorgeous music of her own unsettling poetic style.

The musicians who join in her sojourn – pianist Stephanie Urquhart, bassist Summer Kodama, drummer Mili Hung, and the members of the Craft Ensemble [violinists Colleen Brannen and Amy Sims, violist Amelia Hollander Ames and cellist Velleda Miragias] have all deeply interiorised the exquisite work on this album and give idiomatic performances in soli and ensemble. This is a truly masterful recording.

Deo gratis…

EPK for Ruiqi Wang’s debut album Subduing the silence

Music – 1: Xiang Leng Jin Ni #1; 2: A Letter to L; 3: Vibrating; 4: A Descent of Lilies; 5: Shimmering; 6: Xiang Leng Jin Ni #2; 7: I am a Tree; 8: Dream of the Pines; 9: Deep Stillness; 10: Xiang Leng Jin Ni #3; 11: Fragments for Subduing the Silence.

Musicians – Ruiqi Wang: voice, compositions, and arrangements; Stephanie Urquhart: piano; Summer Kodama: drums; Mili Hung: drums; Craft Ensemble – Colleen Brannen: violin; Amy Sims: violin; Amelia Hollander Ames: viola; Velleda Miragias: cello.

Released – 2024
Label – Orchard of Pomegranates
www.ayeletrose.com/orchard/
Runtime 36:11

Based in Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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