Jean-Michel Charlier clarinet, bass clarinet
Marc Danel first violoin
Gilles Millet second violin
Tony Nys viola
Guy Danel cello
Like a man in search of his soul, Hao-Fu Zhang has taken the high road. Ears pricked, he draws inspiration from sources that defy time and space. Formulated in the light of contemporary Western techniques, his music presents itself to our ears as a pathway to Eastern thought. Having studied composition and acquired sound training in harmony and counterpoint at the conservatory of his native city, Xian, he left China for Europe. In residence at IRCAM, then teacher at the Royal Brussels Conservatory, he has never ceased to develop a creative activity recognised for its stylistic distinction and its great spiritual scope.
The stupefaction provoked one evening in 1997 by the unexpected announcement of the death of his teacher and friend Edison Denisov was a catalyst for the composition of his Second Quartet, a hauntingly obsessional work, the construction of which speaks out to us every time and brings us obstinately back to a feeling of affliction. By contrast, the source of inspiration for the Third Quartet is drawn from the folksongs of the high tablelands of Qinghai, discovered by the composer in the course of musicological research in that region. The adopted structure, a large-scale free fugue, is as much a celebration for the mind as a delight for the senses. This piece breathes the joie de vivre of a composer sure of his craft who gives full rein to the means at his disposal. The inspiration behind Qin-Xiao, a quintet with clarinet commissioned by the Danel Quartet for their tenth anniversary, was the combination of the modes of play of some early instruments, the first traces of which date back to the Han dynasty. The ?qin? is a seven-stringed zither, the ?xiao? a straight bamboo flute. This gives the work an ancient feel tinged with the innovative character of a contemporary composition.
The performance of the Danel Quartet and Jean-Michel Charlier shows the enthusiasm and the conviction that characterise their work with contemporary composers from diverse horizons. The brilliance of this group is well established on the international scene, and is marked by a genuine complicity with Hao-Fu Zhang?s stylistic approach.
At a time when Western society seems to be discovering the culture and the extent of the Chinese population with an interest tinged at times with disquiet, we have the opportunity of discovering an enlightened forerun-ner who, as the apostle of a ?universal human culture?, attempts to throw bridges between these two cultures. This is innovative music of instant charm that never falls into the rut of either contemporary or Asiatic music.