Korean-born but a political exile in Germany for the last 25 years of his life, Isang Yun (1917-1995) managed to create a workable synthesis between western and eastern traditions, which fused a musical language based upon the total serialism of the post-war avant garde with elements drawn from both Korean and Chinese traditional styles. The three pieces here, all composed in the 1980s, show just how expressively effective that synthesis could be. In the First Chamber Symphony, it allows Yun to create a richly cushioned sound-world, full of shimmering textures, hazy microtones and supple, swooping gestures, while the rich string layering and urgent melodic writing of Tapis and the evocations of the sound of the Chinese harp in Gong-Hu, for solo harp and string orchestra, create music that is instantly attractive, even if the details of its inner workings are not always obvious.
The Belgian composer Wim Mertens (born 1953) is an international recording and performing artist who has given several concerts, as a soloist and with his ensemble all over Europe, in North and Central America, Japan and in Russia. Wim Mertens plays the piano and the classical guitar. He sings in a characteristically high-pitched voice, using a carefully crafted personal language. Since 1980 he has composed many pieces in different formats, from short, accessible songs or Lieder to magnanimous and complex three and four parts cycles, and for different settings: from piano solo to chamber music ensembles and symphonic orchestra. He often writes for unusual instrumentations: twelve piccolos, ten basstrombones, thirteen clarinets. Since his recording debut in 1980, titled For amusement only, an electronic composition for pinball machines, Wim Mertens has released more than 50 albums.