Ming Tsao - Pathology of Syntax

Ming Tsao


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Mode Records - A Record Label Devoted to New Music Pathology of Syntax

1. Pathology of Syntax  (2006–07)  15:53
for string quartet
The Arditti Quartet

2. (Un)cover (2008) 
for trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, cello & percussion
Ensemble ascolta
Jonathan Stockhammer, conductor

3. The Book of Virtual Transcriptions (2004-05)
for oboe, trumpet, horn, trombone, violin, viola & cello
Ensemble SurPlus
James Avery, conductor

4. Not Reconciled (2002-03)
for clarinet, trombone, guitar, cello & percussion
Ensemble SurPlus
Jonathan Stockhammer, conductor

5. One-Way Street (2006)
for clarinet, oboe, violin, viola, cello & percussion
ensemble recherche

6. Canon (2001)
Anthony Burr, clarinet. Charles Curtis, cello


Ming Tsao is a Chinese-American composer active in Europe. His works have been performed at the Donaueschingen Festival, Wien Modern, Wittener Tage, Maerz Musik and Darmstadt. Tsao’s composition teachers include Chaya Czernowin, Brian Ferneyhough and Mario Davidovsky. Tsao is also Professor of Composition at Göteborg University, Sweden. He holds composition degrees from University of California, San Diego and Berklee College of Music.

This is the first monographic CD of Tsao’s music.

Pathology of Syntax attempts to simulate a late Beethoven quartet. The Beethoven fragments dissolve into the physicality of the string quartet medium where the energy of bowing, plucking, scraping and brushing physical materials such as hair, wood and metal achieves an independence from the transcribed material it seeks to represent.

One-Way Street is a meditative, contemplative work that gradually disassembles what we assume to be beautiful: natural harmonics, drones and ecstatic rhythms.

In Not Reconciled, the sound of fingernails brushing against strings, the rattling of snares on a snare drum or the clicking of clarinet keys settle into a sound world tentatively held together by the incongruous instruments that create it.

(Un)cover is a meditation on the opening of Beethoven’s last piano sonata, opus 111 (first movement).

The Book of Virtual Transcriptions consists of 49 aural signs ranging from abstract to concrete images of musical material from the Adagio movement of Mozart's oboe quartet (K.V. 370). These signs and their relations pose as stimuli that force the brain to complete a virtual transcription of the Mozart movement in which one constructs a way to listen to the Mozart that engages the musical unconscious.

Canon probes the limits of a musical canon through references to Bach's Musical Offering.

Liner notes by Steven Kazuo Takasugi.



Related Resources:

Ming TSAO Profile
Arditti Quartet Profile
ensemble recherche Profile

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