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Music Reviews

Edinburgh Music Review


for Entropy, performed by BBCSSO, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, June 17 2023


"...... As a music-loving mathematical physicist, by both training and inclination, I am always intrigued by and receptive to music inspired by the metaphors of theoretical physics.  Back in April, I had the experience of meeting Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir and hearing her piece ‘Metacosmos’, inspired by the idea of falling into a black hole and emerging into a parallel universe.  Mingdu Li’s composition, ‘Entropy’, inspired by the measure of disorder which, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, is always increasing, leading ultimately and inexorably to the decomposition of the universe into pure radiant heat energy, so-called ‘heat death’, invites comparison.  I can say immediately that Mingdu has nothing to fear from such a comparison.  The music has a compelling ever-present pulse, conveying the sense of inexorability as effectively as Thorvaldsdóttir.  The orchestration is masterly and, of course, the BBCSSO under Brabbins awarded it the ultimate advocacy.  The element of human response to a cosmos that seems indifferent, if not hostile, to life is represented by quotation.  Two composers in particular are quoted.  Mahler, with his preoccupation with Ewigkeit (eternity) is perhaps not surprising, but greater, and recurrent, prominence is given to a phrase from the first movement of Ravel’s String Quartet.  Seeing Mingdu’s thanks to Martyn and the orchestra on Twitter, I felt emboldened to ask whether the Ravel quotation signifies order stubbornly manifesting itself in the midst of chaos.  Her response was most enlightening: “I’ve tried to not limit the ‘Entropy’ to just despair, but rather embrace the fact that we humans will simply return to our origins.  Therefore, a certain amount of warmth and order amidst the chaos is needed to better serve my vision”.  “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.  She added “… also, I’ve learned a lot from Ravel”.  Well, if her skilful orchestration is anything to go by, that is most definitely true.  I am a new fan, and eagerly await her future compositions no less than those of Thorvaldsdóttir.  She was of course present at the concert and was on stage to acknowledge the enthusiastic applause of the Glasgow audience......"

            by Donal Hurley from Edinburgh Music Review 

Bachtrack Music Review

for Entropy, performed by BBCSSO, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, June 17 2023

"...... From Beijing, Mingdu Li studied Maths, then musical composition, her recent works combining disciplines as in this world premiere of Entropy, our universe becoming more chaotic. Restless short glissandi on brass then strings provided an ethereal backdrop as muted fanfares gave way to an unsettling building momentum, woodwinds chirruping like birds, the strings sounding like a flowing vortex. Brabbins brought light and shade, but in the end there was a sense of an uncontrollable beast of pure energy in the strings, ominous rumblings from the trombones and tuba, a short moment of respite preceding the final crash. A confident work, Li looked delighted as she took her bow......"

                  by David Smythe from Bachtrack Music Review 

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