Hot Tracks

On her 10th album, Rainie Yang is confident enough to stick to ballads and mid-tempo numbers throughout, without the need to mix things up just for the sake of it.

The best song is Audience, a ballad she interprets sensitively as she contemplates a distant lover: "Some people love like an audience/Don't understand the simplest emotional scene."

It was penned for her by China's Li Ronghao, one of the hottest singer-songwriters of the moment. The 31-year-old has a way with both words and music, effectively exploring emotional states through the use of sustained metaphors.

The song benefits from their romance - they are dating and he is able to tailor a song to her exact strengths as a singer.



      Rainie Yang

      Tian Di He Entertainment

      3.5/5 stars

At this point, Yang, 32, is firmly into her second phase as a crooner of sophisticated grown-up tracks about love and life, leaving behind her cutesy and grating pop.

On the title track, she ponders the passage of time and the changes it has wrought. The changing of the seasons can be cruel and relentless, but time has been good to her as a singer.

Boon Chan



      Boston Symphony/Andris Nelsons

      Deutsche Grammophon 4795201 (2 CDs)

      5/5 stars

Titled Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's new cycle of symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) got off to a great start with the Tenth Symphony receiving the 2016 Gramophone Award in the Orchestral category.

The second release featuring live performances of three symphonies is no less fine. But it requires three changes of discs to listen to the works in a chronological order, which is advised if one wishes to follow the trajectory of the Soviet composer's changes in fortunes with regard to the totalitarian regime's policy upheavals and quixotic tastes.

Begin with the Incidental Music To Hamlet (1932) on Disc 2, with Shostakovich's alternating witty and sombre music, and then flip to Track 6 of Disc 1 for the outwardly triumphant Fifth Symphony (1937). This had been warmly received by the authorities and public alike as "a Soviet artist's reply to just criticism", despite its hidden barbs.

Then go back to Disc 2 for the grim wartime Eighth Symphony (1943) with its "toccata of death" movements and a strangely laid-back finale, before returning to Disc 1 for his biggest joke of all.

The slapstick Ninth Symphony (1945) is a mocking sneer at final victory in the Great Patriotic War. Listen for the terrific brass of the Boston Symphony, their pride and joy in this memorable album.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe