Tazul Tajuddin - Malaysian-born composer, resident in the UK

'un compositeur très finement doué'...'semble révéler un tempérament original, épris à la fois de rigueur et d'esprit novateur.' ('a very finely gifted composer '...' seems to reveal an original character, rigorous and innovative spirit) - Henri Dutilleux


Opera Puteri Saadong is led and composed by Dr Tazul Tajuddin, a multiple prize-winning composer of international repute, soon to be a visiting scholar at Harvard University, who should be better known in his own country. He is definitely not a populist composer, and audiences should be prepared for plenty of atonality. You will not find songs as in 'Puteri Gunung Ledang: 'The Musical' - 'Opera Puteri Saadong's score is firmly in the realms of contemporary classical music, though the orchestra is joined by gamelan and mak yong troupe. At times the spiritual meanderings of the rebab are incised by a pianissimo discord from the first violins, at others the oboe is employed to imitate a serunai. It works The UiTM orchestra was tunefully enthusiastic as when I saw them at two recent concerts - academic freedom in our public universities can flourish when political interests don't feel threatened. The brilliant choir channelled Verdi at times, while Wagnerian librettos were delivered confidently by the soloists Syafinaz Selamat and Mohd Hafiz Askiak especially.'..Opera is an intense and demanding art form, but we owe it to these hard-working visionaries to see how an old tale can be so innovatively resurrected.' - written by Tunku Abidin Muhriz, Malay Mail and Borneo Post, 30 Jan 2015.

 

'..benar-benar menggamit perasaan.', '…Opera ini berjaya mencuit tangkai hati penonton dengan kisah tragisnya.' - written by Nor Eryani Yusup, KOSMO, 26 Jan.

 

'..terpegun..', '..cipta sejarah..' - Opera Puteri Saadong review by Nabiha Mohd Yusof, KOSMO, 29 Jan 2015.

 

'..amatlah berbaloi..' - Opera Puteri Saadong review by Daily Seni, 26 Jan 2015

 

'…underbart och innovativt verk av malaysianen Tazul Tajuddin.' - Magnus Andersson, Intervju med Magnus Andersson gitarristen som kämpar mot den kulturella provinsialismen' Guido Zeccola in Tidningen Kulturen, 3 Feb 2015

 

'Backed by UiTM Symphony Orchestra under Tazul Izan Tajuddin, Syafinaz mesmerized with 'Lagu Tanpa Kata'. Clad in a gold shimmering dress, she effortlessly hit the high notes on this composition by Tazul's 'Lagu' cycle, written in 1994 (altogether, there are four pieces, written between 1994 and 1998) - review by Faisal Asyraf, New Straits Times, 29 December 2014.

 

'Creativity is the essence of success in today's challenging world. Every culture is imbued with its own distinct musical and artistic expression that is passed from one generation to another, thus creating layers of heritage to be cherished by all. Composition is often regarded as the pinnacle of such expressions and its performance gives birth to valued creative acts. The 4th Malaysia Composer Concert Series 2013 is one such endeavour which the Ministry of Education applauds. It epitomizes deep thinking, honed music literacy, collaborative actions and stylistic performance engagement at a heighten level of artistic discourse by a new generation of intellectuals.' - Dato' Seri Idris Jusoh in his forward program note in the 4th Malaysian Composers Concert Series, 27 Nov -1 Dec 2013.

 

'...Tazul Tajuddin (UiTM) paper 'The Transformation of Gamelan and Pantun into new Modes of Expression' was also highly interesting, examining 'aspect of Islamic art and geometrical design reflected in the compositional structures' and 'the use of Malay batik and weaving conepts as visual stimulus'… - Andrian Pertout (7 Nov 2013, 31st Asian Composers League Festival and Conference, Singapore, article published by Australian Music Centre)

 

'..some works lasted long enough to intrigue the listener, then stopped. Tazul Tajuddin's Sebuah Pantun V set up a tense vocal/instrumental dialogue, then broke off in apparent full flow.'The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Encounters: Malaysian Liasions' reviewed by Clive O'Connell (27 March 2012)

'The festival (3rd Pharos International Contemporary Music Festival) had an impressively international outlook-those 17 world premieres were written by composers from 11 different countries, almost none of them from the usual Western European suspects. This provided a rare opportunity to sample contemporary composition beyond the well-trodden paths. Many of the other new pieces in the festival-indeed many of the best of them-were hard to place in relation either to national stereotypes or to a globalized modern/postmodern hegemony. Indeed, a composer's biography-their places of education and travel-seemed more important than their country of birth. Or: it ain't where you're from, it's where you've been. …compositions that particularly struck me were Tazul Tajuddin's Sebuah Pantun IV... Tajuddin (born 1969) is a Malaysian composer who has studied in the US, Europe, and the UK (where he earned his PhD). His piano trio Sebuah Pantun IV is (as the title suggests) strongly influenced by traditional Malay music, and this is clearly audible in some of its formal devices and its occasional gamelan-like sonorities. But that surface is supported by Western values: the trio is well balanced, the style is highly polished, the grammar modern. Tajuddin's skill, and the hallmark of his compositional voice, is in keeping that push and pull in equilibrium.' - 5 Oct 2011, New Music Box Review by Tim Rutherford-Johnson. Tim Rutherford-Johnson writes on contemporary music for the Guardian, INTO, Tempo, and his blog, The Rambler.

 

"Torrent of Memories:" written in 2003 by Tazul Izan Tajuddin. For piano, this piece evolves a Balinese scale within dense, linear textures. …An important voice from Malaysia's new music scene: Tazul Izan Tajuddin, (born 1969,) now resides in Britain. - Adam Sherkin, Canadian pianist on Twitter (Canada, 5-7 May 2011)

'Adam Sherkin, emerging in Toronto as a pianist who relishes really difficult scores, astonished with his playing of Tazul Izan Tajuddin's Torrent of Images-A Memorial (2002). This dramatic work contrasts rapid, repeated, dissonant, high register arpeggiated scales permutated with abrupt, jagged, erratic, random note-clusters in the low register. The work trills like an overexcited nerve and pounds like the pulse of a doomed victim. The drama is worth it, as is Sherkin's display of hand and ear virtuosity.'Stanley Fefferman in OpusOne Review (Toronto, Canada, 9 May 2011).

'Professor Tajuddin's extensive list of compositions for different media is characterised by an extremely sensitive ear for multi-layered textures and rhythms, and a sure sense of overall form and proportion within a wholly contemporary style. The similar admiration I have for the music of Henri Dutilleux and György Ligeti immediately drew me to his works, although Tajuddin constructively brings his wide experience of Asian/oriental vocal and instrumental traditions into the equation, so that there is no question of superficial resemblances to his European kindred spirits. He might well be seen, however, as an heir to the French tradition of finesse, sensibility, and textural and rhythmic subtlety, especially if one considers the inspiration Debussy himself drew from the music of the East and from the arabesque in particular. All of which helps to explain the appeal of Professor Tajuddin's music for me as a musicologist specialising in modern French music. Indeed, one might justifiably say that Tajuddin, with his Malaysian background, was a genuine example of East-West aesthetic fusion, with a multi-cultural approach that built on, rather than rejected past traditions.

Although Professor Tajuddin's music gains in respect from study and frequent hearings, it is also readily accessible to a culturally enlightened audience through the sheer beauty of its sound and the subtle formal guidelines he provides. In my experience, his music has never failed to communicate its maturity of conception and its textural imaginativeness, and he has understandably enjoyed the ultimate accolade of repeat performances.' - Professor Emeritus Robert Orledge, musicologist (UK)

 

'Tazul Tajuddins Selindung Warna für Violine solo bot ein Furcht erregendes Notenbild. Demian Fehns Bogen zischte für diese Geigentortur wie ein Florett durch die Luft, sprang in Teufelsgeigermanier in rauem Ton die Lagen entlang, tremolierte, tirilierte und glitt zitatweise durch verschiedene malaysische Volksmusikstile. …die Gamelbati VI von Tajuddin furios durchstürmte. Großartig!' Günter Moseler in Emsdettener Volkszeitung (Germany, 24 September 2008)

 

'Dieser Eindruck stellte sich bei vielen der aufgeführten Stücke ein, die zumeist entweder folkloristische Züge oder - in den gemischten Ensembles - die Gegenuberstellung von west - östlichem Denken bevorzugten.  Eine überzeugende Synthese, wie sie der in England lebende Malaysier Tazul Izan Tajuddin in seiner Komposition  "Tenunan II" für Flöte, Celeste, Klavier und Streichorchester mit sich ständig neu verwebenden Klangmustern vorstellte, wareher die Ausnahme.' Gisela Gronemeyer  in Neu Musikzeitung magazine (Germany, Feb 2008 issue)

 

'The Hong Kong Sinfonietta finished the day with a concert centring on Asian composers. Works from ….and Tazul Izan Tajuddin showed that a deeper integration of Eastern and Western aesthetics is emerging from this younger generation, the latter's Tenunan II used simple ideas and line to original effect.' ISCM Report on Hong Kong World Music Days 2007, Music and Beyond by John McLachlan

 

'Warna Yang Bernada' is an arch-form single movement whose trajectory is intended to reflect the development over the past century. With its Messiaen-like piano flourishes...over hazy static orchestral textures, it is attractive...' Andrew Clement, writing in the Guardian (UK, 16 Nov 2007)

 

'…a new score from Tazul Tajuddin, which seized Appleton's words and turned them into a humming, buzzing collage of syllables.' - (Ivan Hewett, review in The Daily Telegraph (United Kingdom), 11 June 2007)

 

'Tazul Izan Tajuddin's prizewinning Gamelbati - Mediasi Ukiran III, basically a concerto for Indonesian gamelan and a slightly unusual-constituted western chamber orchestra, is a piece whose substantial length flies by. A typically oriental patience and long sightedness informs its structure, recurring columns of gamelan-coloured serenity punctuating anxious skirls from woodwinds, later by strings, before a gradual acceleration brings the piece to its well-achieved conclusion.' (Christopher Morley, review in Birmingham Post, 4 March 2006)

 

'Quand au quatuor du Malaysien Tajuddin, on ne peut qu'applaudir sans réserve le choix du jury. La fascination et la séduction à l'état pur envoûtent du début à la fin. Littéralement rivé sur son siège, on écoute une oeuvre, une vraie, une forte, de structure très définie, à la forme parlante. Partant de l'ornement, Tajuddin élabore un continuum sonore ébluoissant, raffiné et subtil. Il transcende le truisme en vocable sensible.' [As for the Malaysian Tajuddin's quartet, one can only applaud without reservation the jury's decision. Its sheer fascination and seduction captivate the listener from beginning to end. Literally glued to one's seat, we listen to a real, strong work, with a solid structure and communicative form. Starting from ornaments, Tajuddin weaves a dazzling, refined and subtle musical work. He transcends the commonplace with sensitive vocabulary.] (François Toussignant, review in Le Devoir (Montréal), 7 February 2005)

 

'Beneath the complication of the 'Kehalusan Ukiran', we could hear something courtly and formal unfolding, like a modernist gamelan.' - (Ivan Hewett, review in The Daily Telegraph (United Kingdom), 17 Feb 2004)

 

'An accent…on the downbeat of each measure provides a vertical element, while the refinement of Tajuddin's subdivided writing for strings provides effective horizontal connections.' - (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, USA, 26 Nov 2003)

 

'Tonight was a fine example of Malaysia's investments paying off. Tonight was exciting in that it was the first performance of a Banting boy's composition by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Tazul Izan Tajuddin, who rose from humble beginnings as a UiTM graduate to become a pioneering Malaysian scholar in the area of music at Carnegie Mellon university, was one of two first prize winners of the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2002. Tonight the MPO performed one of his pieces, entitled Mantera Nadian Warna - Sebuah Tenunan III (Mantra of Pulsating Colours - Weaves III). True to the title, the piece was unconventionally enchanting, yet eerily familiar. From beginning, the audience was engaged in cycles of 'pizzicato's to shrieks to abrupt ends which increased in intensity - much in the same way the dance of kuda kepang attracts its audience into a trance. I found myself drifting into a dense virgin jungle at midnight, with each pulse of the music representing an alien element which presents itself to me as I went in deeper into the piece. Indeed, it was a breathtaking 12 minutes composition made even more fascinating seeing that it came from a Malaysian…' (Malaysiana Digests, Personal Commentary of Najah Nasseri, a Kuala Lumpur City Dweller, 25 May 2003)

 

'…tentunya hasil seni yang membanggakan untuk dekad ini jikapun tidak abad ini sebelum melangkah ke abad baru…ia mendapat sambutan membanggakan.' […Definitely the proudest work of art in this decade if not this century before going to the new century…it was received very warmly.] (Review in Berita Harian (Malaysia) May, 1997)

 

 'Jong-jong Inai was also an eye-opener…' New Straits Times (concert review, 27 Feb. 1993)

 

'…such delightful Malay traditional folk songs like Enjit-enjit Semut with extravagant lashings of harmonised vocals…pieces are turned into stunning ones…' (Review in The Malay Mail (Malaysia) 26 Feb. 1993)