A playful, dance-like piece, Tan Dun’s 12-minute Concerto for Six evokes the joy of a village ritual.Traces of classical Chinese instrumental music are nonetheless evident in this one-movement work, which is constructed as a set of variations upon the number series 7-6-5-4-3-2-1. This numerical sequence governs the piece¹s metrical scheme and affects its rhythm and tempi. (In fact, the musicians¹ chanting of ³Qi-Liu-Wu-Si-San-Er Yi² is Chinese for ³Seven-Six-Five-Four-Three-Two-One.²) Contrasting with this strict formal structure are cadenzas and sections of free improvisation for each of the six players, as one might expect in a concerto.
Concerto for Six was commissioned by Bang on a Can as part of the series of works sponsored by Meet the Composer/National Arts Endowment Commissioning Music/USA, with support from the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.
–Mary Lou Humphrey
“An exuberant piece from 1997, ‘Concerto for Six,’ showed Mr. Tan’s knack for juxtaposing Chinese and Western idioms.”
–Steve Smith, New York Times, October 27, 2009