These musical paintings depict more than four thousand musical instruments, three thousand musicians, and five hundred orchestras. I was so deeply moved that I could almost hear the sounds emanating from the murals. -- Tan Dun
The world premiere recording of Buddha Passion, the critically acclaimed, evening-length oratorio by composer and conductor Tan Dun, is out on Decca Classics on August 4, 2023. On August 5, Tan Dun conducts the work to launch the Edinburgh International Festival, in a performance that features the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Edinburgh Festival Chorus, and RSNO Youth Chorus, along with a decorated lineup of featured musicians and dancers from around the world. Buddha Passion marks the first full-length Decca release by Tan Dun since his major recording partnership with the label was announced in March.
Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion is a captivating tale of wonder, truth and gentle but irresistible transformation. The monumental work involving massed choirs, large orchestra, six percussionists and an array of soloists including indigenous singers, traditional Chinese instruments and a dancing pipa player, is the first such ‘Passion’ on a Buddhist rather than Christian narrative.
The album was recorded live at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center Concert Hall in 2019, with Orchestre National de Lyon and International Choir Academy Lübeck. With libretto in English, Chinese, Sanskrit by the composer, and additional text from Tang Dynasty sources, Buddha Passion was inspired by Tan Dun's visit to the vast myriad of ancient caves containing countless musical murals in the Dunhuang desert. Set at the foot of the Himalayas and inspired by Chinese and Sanskrit texts, the story follows a little prince as he finds enlightenment and becomes Buddha, meeting an array of characters before reaching Nirvana. The life-affirming score fuses the ancient wisdom of Buddhism with the musical tradition of J.S. Bach’s Passions, featuring hypnotic orchestral textures and Eastern vocal techniques.
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