"Rates of Extinction: IV." by Ning Yu
Decay and growth is the push-and-pull that makes life a journey rather than a stagnation. On Of Being, pianist Ning Yu explores this ideology, performing three new works that each take a different ephemeral phenomenon as inspiration for musical composition. Of Being is suspended in time, asking us to ponder rather than answer, to listen with intent rather than to tune out.
Ning’s piano performance has been heard in groups like boundary-pushing quartet Yarn/Wire and fiery chamber ensemble counter)induction, but Of Being marks her debut solo recording. With the album, she displays a deft understanding of the intricate music she’s playing, moving between styles and techniques with ease. Each piece on Of Being is a premiere; Ning’s capability makes the music feel both cutting edge and lived-in, guiding us through the new compositions with her deep intuition.
The album opens with 2014 Guggenheim Fellow Wang Lu’s “Rates of Extinction,” which launches thoughts of decay into the forefront. The piece centers on the ultimate fate of endangered species, combining a series of short, vignette-like movements that eventually fade into oblivion. Wang Lu finds a balance between subtlety and passion on “Rates of Extinction,” using delicate melodies to build complexity. The piece has its most memorable moments during the twinkling fifth movement, where mysterious intricacies leave an unshakable, haunting feeling. Throughout the piece, Ning’s skillful playing is evident: Wang Lu writes for the highest ability, and Ning never misses a beat in highlighting the complexity of the music.
📄 Vanessa Ague/The Road to Sound
📷 Ning Yu
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