REVIEW

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Song of the Flaming Phoenix A Symphonic Poem for Sheng (mouth organ) and Large Orchestra

commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and League of American Orchestras with funds provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, San Francisco, CA,

June 3, 2022
Review: Liszt, Scriabin and a Fang Man's World Premiere deliver a feast of maximalist music
By Harvey Steiman


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"Phoenix was also a showpiece for the sheng, a centuries-old Chinese mouth organ that looks like a vertical bundle of bamboo and sounds like a cross between a harmonica and a bagpipe, only not nearly as loud. It is a measure of the composer’s technical ability that the big orchestra seldom overpowers the sheng, played with rock-star physical energy by Wu Wei. The Chinese-born artist has made a name for himself improvising with jazz artists, and an extensive cadenza near the end of the piece gave him plenty of leeway to use all the aspects of the instrument – polyphonic, even contrapuntal, and masterfully paced.” 

 

Harvey Steiman, Seen and Heard International

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Song of the Flaming Phoenix A Symphonic Poem for Sheng (mouth organ) and Large Orchestra

commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and League of American Orchestras with funds provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, San Francisco, CA,

March 4, 2022
Review: Esa-Pekka Salonen and S.F.Symphony raise the roof with a powerful program
By Joshua Kosman


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"Throughout the score, Fang slathers on orchestral colors in bold, dynamic strokes. The sheng, whose sound is reedy but not especially muscular, doesn’t always find its way to the fore amid the onslaught, but when it does — as in an unaccompanied solo cadenza near the end, which Wu executed with fiendish virtuosity — the effect is splendid... Song of the Flaming Phoenix in all its splashy splendor, landed like a brilliant, extravagantly inventive bombshell. ” 

 

Joshua Kosman, S.F. Chronicle

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Song of the Flaming Phoenix A Symphonic Poem for Sheng (mouth organ) and Large Orchestra

commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and League of American Orchestras with funds provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, San Francisco, CA,

March 4, 2022
Review: Fang Man's Impressive SFS World Premiere
By Stephen Smoliar


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"Fang conceived “Song of the Flaming Phoenix” as a vast landscape of diverse sonorities, where gradual transition takes precedence over segmentation. Thus, over the course of its 25 minutes of performance, the music guides the listener across that landscape, allowing every individual feature to register with the perceptive listener without ever imposing explicit boundaries of segmentation.” 

 

Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio

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Song of the Flaming Phoenix A Symphonic Poem for Sheng (mouth organ) and Large Orchestra

commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and League of American Orchestras with funds provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, San Francisco, CA,

March 1, 2022
News: The Chinese Sheng Takes Pride of Place with the SF Symphony This Week
By Jasmine Liu


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"Since meeting him, Chinese-American composer Fang Man had wanted to write a concerto for Wu Wei, a specialist of the sheng, an ancient Chinese instrument that enjoys the distinction of being the oldest woodwind free-reed instrument in the world. Over three millennia old, the instrument was brought to Saint Petersburg in the late 18th century, where it inspired the creation of European free reed instruments like the accordion and harmonica. “The sheng has a very rich overtone,” Wu Wei says. “It’s soft, like human singing. But it can be very powerful.” He adds that although the quality of the sound is abstract, it is also elegant. ” 

 

Jasmine Liu, Classical Voice

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Song of the Flaming Phoenix A Symphonic Poem for Sheng (mouth organ) and Large Orchestra

commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and League of American Orchestras with funds provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, San Francisco, CA,

February 18, 2020
Esa-Pekka Salonen plans innovative 109th SF Symphony season
By Janos Gereben


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"The world premiere of Chinese-born American composer Fang Man’s yet untitled composition blending Chinese and Greek mythology is on a program from March 11–13, 2021 with the rarely-performed Scriabin’s “Prometheus: The Poem of Fire” and Beethoven’s “Creatures of Prometheus.” 

 

Janos Gereben, S.F. Examiner

That Raindrops have Hastened the Falling Flowers
In Memory of Steven Stucky for Piano & Toy Piano (2016)

Contributed work invited by Esa-Pekka Salonen & LA Philharmonic Association

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November 29, 2018
Music Review 'Garlands' for a beloved friend
By Mark Swed


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"Fang Man included a toy piano in her “That raindrops have hastened the falling flowers,” hastening the blossoming of melody."

Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times (2018)

“Perhaps the most touching tribute to Stucky is the way both young composers followed in Stucky's resonant, radiant and playful footsteps without sounding anything like him. Mandy Fang's "That raindrops have hastened the falling flowers" had Mark Robson playing a toy piano with his right hand and a grand with his left, the toy's tinkle acting like rain on the grand's flowery chords. The ringing character of Joseph Phibbs' Elegy, featuring Vicki Ray, was flowery in a different but just as resonant way.”    

 

Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times (2016)

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April 21, 2016
Every note in place in L.A. Phil tribute to Steven Stucky
By Timothy Mangan


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“The pieces for piano, all short, all more or less ruminative, were by James Matheson, Anders Hillborg, Mandy Fang, Joseph Phibbs, Magnus Lindberg and Salonen and were played by a succession of pianists from Piano Spheres. Fang’s “That raindrops have hastened the falling flowers” made effective use of a toy piano in duet with the grand (Mark Robeson handled it capably). Lindberg’s “Fratello” evoked Ravel, a strong influence on Stucky. Salonen’s “Iscrizione” started with single notes and gathered into a swirl and trills before dissipating.”  

 

Timothy Mangan, The Orange County Register 

Dream of a Hundred Flowers for Saxophone Quartet and 4 Chinese Instruments (2011)

Commissioned by PRISM Quartet and Music From China with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts 

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"An expert molder of near-chaotic energies, she assigned her melody to the erhu (a    two-stringed fiddle), played expressively by Wang Guowei. His song was swiftly  engulfed in vivid whorls of colorful turbulence and dreamy illogic; at various points  the Prism players supplied livid hisses, split-tone growls and a near-cartoonish big-  band bounce."

 Steve Smith, The New York Times 

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“Fang Man’s Dream of a Hundred Flowers (2011, erhu, sheng, pipa, yangqin, and saxophone quartet) finds each saxophone paired with one of the Chinese instruments in a study, really a celebration, of the melodic styles associated with Chinese opera, with some very jazzy harmonies popping up from time to time. Over the length of the pieces, the duos join with other duos and the two quartets explore different relationships, like characters in an opera. It is a shapely piece, expressive and lovely.” 

 Sequenza 21 review  

Earth A Song Cycle for Soprano, Bass-Baritone and Ensemble with Dance (2010-12) 

Commissioned by Dolce Suono Ensemble with Grants from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and NewMusicUSA 

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"The best of the new pieces was Song of Sorrow by Chinese composer Fang Man, which used the 8th-century verse of Li Bai, whom Mahler accessed in Das Lied von  der Erde in German translation. The text used in the new piece went back to the  original Chinese, in words dealing with political as well as emotional betrayal; vocal  lines were stately, while the instrumental writing showed restless invention."

 David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer 

Deluge for Large Ensemble with Electronics (2008-9)

Commissioned by Dolce Suono Ensemble with Grants from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and NewMusicUSA 

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"...During the first part of Ms. Fang's 17-minute work (Resurrection) Mr. Bermel leapt, slurred and growled over roiling instrumental textures, jagged rhythms and electronic effects that hissed and jabbered around the hall through loudspeakers. Amid the din - and despite a soloist amplified to occasionally ear-splitting effect - you heard constant evidence of Ms. Fang's inventive palette. A barking clarinet line, distantly echoed by the concertmaster and a muted tuba, is followed by a limpid solo melody set against tingling harp and metal percussion. The second part, more densely electronic, includes a breathtaking passage that suggests phantom voices lost in a purple-gray Ligetian fog."

 Steve Smith, Music Editor, The New York Times 

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"...Resurrection inspired by the stylized chaos and narrative formality of Peking opera - full of crazed, intricate interplay, and with a level of energy and invention..." 

 

 David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer 

Noir for Orchestra (2005) 

2005 Centre Acanthes Festival 

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"...Noir by Chinese-born composer Fang Man. Her well-crafted score, receiving its  U.S. premiere in this concert, is launched by deep rumblings in the orchestra, later punctuated by jazzy flashes of brass and percussion, and finally brought to a galloping, thunderous close. It all added up last night to a concise, involving little  drama in a spicy harmonic language that seemed to keep the players thoroughly involved."

 Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

Aqua In Memoriam Toru Takemitsu for Large Orchestra (2003-4)

2007 Toru Takemitzu Award

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"The work by Man Fang, who lives in the United States, is an elegant writer and  stands out with fresh sensibility." In commenting her work AQUA, "This is an  outstanding piece. In employing transforming sound waves to create a landscape of  light and water, it offered a superb unity. The second movement, "AQUA," was  fascinating to me. The third movement, although short, had poetic emotional  expression and was also very impressive."

 Akira Nishimura, Composer,

Judge of the Toru Takemitsu Award 2007