Yun's composition for symphonic forces started with "sound compositions", i. e. of works, in which homogeneous sound planes are articulated and elaborated: "Bara" (1960) until "Overture" (1973; rev. 1974). A period of discursively structured instrumental concertos followed, beginning with the "Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra" (1975/76), and climaxing with the "Violin Concerto No. 1" (1981). From 1982 until 1987 he wrote a cycle of five symphonies which are interrelated, yet varied structurally. Striving for freedom and peace is above all "Symphony V" for high baritone and large orchestra (1987) with texts by Nelly Sachs. In 1984 he developed also a new, intimiate "tone" in his chamber music.
"A composer cannot view the world in which he lives with indifference. Human suffering, oppression, injustice… all that comes to me in my thoughts. Where there is pain, where there is injustice, I want to have my say through my music." - Isang Yun, 1983
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.