Tan Dun – Martial Arts Trilogy: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Banquet & Hero (Music from the Soundtracks) (2011)

It’s rare we have a release like this. Tan Dun is a famous Chinese classical composer who features on this album. For anyone who finds Chinese history and culture fascinating, here is a great way to discover some of that, at least musically. It’s a mixture of music from three different Chinese films. Let’s have a listen here to discover some of the great Chinese classical music at hand.

We begin with the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon title track. It has a haunting melody and beautiful Chinese instrumentation at hand. The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra lead on, eventually leading in with violins and other classical instrumentation. It’s so beautiful that you never want to forget this piece. Epic. A nice introduction to this sort of music, it ends sounding glorious.

The next piece The Eternal Vow is a melancholy, yet pacing piece to listen to. It is merely a continuation of what has come before, but sounds so lovely and beautiful that it demands close listening. It is surely one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever made. Terrific stuff.

Silk Road harks back to a traditional sounding piece of music that most westerners would never have the opportunity to hear in their lives. Ladies and gentleman, this is something one should listen to before they die. Chinese classical music is fantastic, and this is no exception.

A Love Before Time is a pacing and lovely sounding tune with English female vocals. It’s different for sure, but sounds fantastic. It takes the main melody from the previous pieces and makes a great song out of it. A good listen, still sounding different from anything else out there.

The next piece, The Banquet – From “The Banquet” is a subtle piano piece with some distant sounding Chinese instrumentation and melodies in the background. Some gospel vocals are here too, it’s a nice sounding instrumental at hand. It changes pace surprisingly towards the end.

After that, we have Waiting – From “The Banquet”. This is a more typical piece that one would find in a movie. It’s a piano and violin piece that soothes the soul. A nice, gentle and understandable listen for this album.

In The Bamboo Forest – From “The Banquet” is a low end piano and percussion piece that goes together well. It is propelled along with a chugging rhythm, and sounds pretty neat. It then has orchestra sections in it as well. Chanted vocals then appear. The percussion then overtakes the listening experience.

Sword Dance – From “The Banquet” is a continuation of the previous piece, yet with a more orchestrated and beautiful classical background that is more traditional of western music. It’s a lovely sounding piece, although short.

The next piece, Only For Love – From “The Banquet” has Chinese singing, which is really beautiful, along with a traditional European sort of classical music setting. It’s an interesting mixture, and is just as good as the other songs here. Nice. It’s soothing and reassuring.

The next piece, Overture, starts off with a Chinese based melody. It then has some traditional Chinese drumming propelling the piece along. It’s not as melancholy as some of the other pieces on this album, at least to begin with, but it still works effectively. It’s a nice listen all the same. Good stuff. More backing gospel harmonies are here, too.

Tan Dun’s most famous piece, For The World, arrives next. It’s a sad and beautiful piece that is extremely moving emotionally. It is a must hear if you enjoy this sort of music, undeniably beautiful. It’s a greatly orchestrated piece of emotion here. Gorgeous.

Sorrow In Desert is a lonely sounding piece that has some prominent drum sounds in it. It’s an image evoking and soundscape sort of piece for listening. Brilliant stuff here, worth a listen.

Farewell, Hero is the last piece on this album. It’s another sad and moving instrumental here. One could even be moved to tears listening to this album, but hey, that is what some of the music here is like. Gospel harmonies and violins are here to be heard.

Although this is merely a film soundtrack, it is definitely worth hearing for something different out there. It’s worth the time, and any Chinese culture fan should take a listen to this. It’s a good representation of these three films set to music.

8/10

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