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Press Releases

New Recording of the Complete Beethoven Symphony Cycle by ZHANG Liang and the Shanghai Philharmonic Now Available

August 31, 2020 | By Rudolph Tang
Founder, KLASSIKOM
  • Recorded live during four concerts over the course of the SPO’s 2018/19 season
  • The first-ever complete Beethoven symphony cycle for both ZHANG and the SPO
  • Engineered by Grammy Award-associated sound engineer LIU Da
  • Distributed physically in China as both a 5-CD box set and a double-LP collection

If another Beethoven symphony cycle seems unlikely to offer a new perspective on these familiar works, consider this: a contribution from China during the composer’s 250th-anniversary year that might indeed underscore the universal appeal of Beethoven’s uplifting masterworks — all the more needed by a world suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Complete Beethoven symphony cycles with Chinese orchestras are still a rarity, and this latest set represents only the fifth such cycle to be commercially released from China. Shanghai Music Publishing House introduced a new CD box set of all of the Beethoven symphonies at the annual Shanghai Book Fair in August 2020. The cycle was recorded live during the course of four concerts which took place between March and July 2018 at the Shanghai Symphony Hall, with ZHANG Liang conducting the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO). This cycle marks the first time that both ZHANG and the SPO have performed all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies in a single season. Soprano XU Xiaoying, mezzo-soprano LIU Ying, tenor HAN Peng, and bass-baritone MA Yiwai, along with the Shanghai Philharmonic Choir, also took part in the performance of the Ninth Symphony.

The commercial release of this complete recording, which was originally intended only for archival use, has been supported by a grant from the municipal government of Shanghai. The decision to make these recordings available to the public was inspired by ZHANG’s love for Beethoven, a desire to document the conductor’s work at a turning point in his career, and his reminiscences of what he learned while studying in Vienna.

Born in 1979, ZHANG is a graduate of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The recording of his performances of the cycle is intended to document both the conductor’s maturity upon reaching the milestone age of 40 and the meaning of this music for humanity at this particularly challenging point in time: “It is a landmark for any conductor to perform a complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies. Personally, I was able to draw on the sum of what I had learned in Vienna throughout these four concerts, and at the same time they unveiled a new chapter for me. I will revisit the cycle every now and then, since these works are instrumental in orchestral training. This release also coincides with the coronavirus pandemic. The spiritual elevation of Beethoven’s music inspires us to overcome adversity. In these recordings, I pay homage to Beethoven as not only a maestro of music but a master of fate.”

The cycle was recorded and engineered by LIU Da, a member of the American Recording Academy, best known for presenting the Grammy Awards, and Secretary General of the China Recording Association, which is affiliated with the Chinese Musicians' Association. The complete cycle is available as a 5-CD box set; additionally, a limited double-LP edition consisting of the Seventh Symphony plus excerpts from the other eight symphonies has been released.

 

ZHANG Liang

ZHANG Liang, conductor

Chinese conductor ZHANG Liang is widely recognized as a leading conductor and pianist of his generation. He enjoys close partnerships with the finest orchestras across China as well as beyond. Since 2010 he has been serving as Chief Conductor of the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO).

Born in Taizhou in Jiangsu Province in 1979, ZHANG began practicing piano at the age of five and attended the elementary and middle schools affiliated with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. During his middle-school years, he collaborated with the Japanese violinist Takako Nishizaki in a recital. He majored in piano and composition at college and early on began composing a number of pieces for piano and strings. In 1996, he began to study orchestral conducting.

After graduating from the Shanghai Conservatory in 1998, he was admitted to the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, where he majored with top honors in conducting and piano with Uros Lajovic, David Lively, and J.G. Jiracek. He completed his postgraduate studies in Vienna with distinction in 2003.

Apart from conducting, ZHANG was already collaborating as an accompanist with Peter Lukas Graf during this period. He also played in a number of chamber music concerts that took him to Germany, Austria, France, Mexico, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of China. In the years leading up to his post as Chief Conductor of the SPO, he recorded a number of albums with outstanding musicians from China.

ZHANG is in demand as a guest conductor, appearing regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Klangforum Wien, Wiener Symphoniker, and Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra; with orchestras in Shanghai, Macao, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beijing; and at festivals in South Korea, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Japan, and Turkey. He has collaborated with such soloists as Paul Badura-Skoda, Ryu Goto, Sumi Jo, Rainer Küchl, Lynn Harrell, Cyprien Katsaris, Fazil Say, Stefan Dohr, Lang Lang, Wang Jian, Shen Yang, Lü Siqing, and others.

He is currently Deputy Director and Chief Conductor of the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and Vice Chair of the Shanghai Musicians’ Association. 

 

Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra

The Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) was founded in 1956 as the Shanghai Film Orchestra. In 1996 it was renamed Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra, and it assumed its present name in 2004. ZHANG Yi is the Artistic Director. Over the years, the SPO has inspired the cultural landscape of Shanghai by collaborating with a star-studded array of conductors including Joe Hisaishi, Peter Flor, Max Pommer, Cristian Macelaru, and Thomas Sanderling, as well as with such soloists as Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Peter-Lukas Graf, Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Jessye Norman, Yo-Yo Ma, Támás Vásáry, Boris Berman, Paul Badura-Skoda, Robert Blocker, Alexei Volodin, and Vincent Lucas. The orchestra performs regularly at major festivals and halls in Europe as well as in such countries as Kazakhstan, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the United States, and Australia. Through its partnerships with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the SPO introduces the richness of contemporary music and the top level of international orchestral musicians to audiences in Shanghai.

___________ 

Press Contact for ZHANG Liang and the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra
SHEN Jie | 61194887@qq.com | 86 135 8553 0991

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