Away from Xuan

Away from Xuan

Legends, journeys and chases; reality vs. mystery.
Yuanlin Chen
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Tan Dun
Melody of China
Minneapolis Guitar Quartet
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Beijing, China

Release Date: 
Jan 27, 2009
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Yuanlin Chen's name may not be as well known as some of the other talented Chinese composers living in the US, but that is about to change. This first CD devoted to his colorful music features three extraordinary works for orchestra, Chinese ensemble, and guitar quartet. 

His orchestral tour-de-force Away from Xuan is performed here by the BBC Scottish Symphony, is conducted by no less than Tan Dun. The piece has been heralded for its mature structure, deep expression, and exotic embellishments. 

Yuanlin Chen grew up in the mountainous region of south-west China and was educated in western and oriental music techniques both in China and in the U.S.A. With one foot in each continent, he has roots in the 5000-year rich Chinese culture and also welcomes forward-looking values and concepts. He applies oriental philosophy and western values into his music and interprets them with traditional and modern techniques. Wondering along the Journey is a perfect demonstration of his cultural and technical fusion work. This piece was written for Chinese traditional, western and electronic instruments. Chasing the Sun, inspired by an ancient Chinese legend, was written for classical guitar quartet. Yuanlin Chen inserts many modern techniques and even some playing techniques deriving from traditional Chinese instruments such as the pipa. 

Rapid developments in communication and transportation are bringing worlds closer to each other every day. New cultural hybrids and artistic fusions are inevitable. Yuanlin Chen believes that there are a plenty of opportunities and abundant resources for a composer nowadays. More and more brilliant musical works are being created by those contemporary composers who are the brave sailors on top of the tide. 


Rarely have I heard an album opener, or any piece, for that matter- with the bombastic and destructive force Yuanlin Chen’s Away From Xuan exhibits.

....I am not sure what he pulled from the future, but the use of eastern string instruments with western woodwinds creates a delicate and versatile timbre.

- Lamper, American Record Guide

Chen's comprehensive training in both Western and Eastern music is evident. Mixed styles often result in embarrassingly clumsy and incongruous moments. Think of how some composers have misused rockor jazz. Here the integration is near flawless. Dr Chen has confirmed that the intelligent art of combination is one of the ways classical music can remain relevant and perhaps expand its audience.

Recommended. MORE

- Ron Bierman, Music and Vision Daily