Sori for flute solo (1988) was composed in the “quiet of the lake” at Sweg in southern Sweden and dedicated to Roberto Fabbriciani, the interpreter of the New York premiere. The Korean word Sori signifies “voice” or “song”. Buddhist vocal music distinguishes two performance practices in connection with this term: kotch’aebi-sori (“exterior songs”) and anch’aebi-sori (“interior songs”). The “exterior songs” are part of the public cultic ceremonies; the po?mp’ae, the festive, richly ornamented melismatic songs belong to the “voices urging outward”. The yo?mbul, the more economical, primarily text-related sutra recitation, belongs to the internal ceremonies, to the music in the interior of the temple. In his choice of the title, however, Yun may also have been thinking of the tradition of the p’ansori, of Korean epic song.
This tradition seems to characterize the second part of Sori, while the third part is related to Zen Buddhist musical traditions. Sori is designed in three parts. An introductory, restless-unstable part in a fast tempo and a quieter second part in a middle tempo are followed by an “unmoved”- contemplative slow part of almost seven minutes in duration. At the beginning of the first part Yun expounds his material in dense, whirring figurations; their contours lead upward, step by step, in second intervals, while the descents occur over larger intervals. In broad interval leaps, which are articulated somewhat more peacefully, Yun finally energetically opens a pitch space of more than two octaves. No tone, however, appears in stable guise during this phase.
The second part presents the energy flow of an intensive, dramatically spanned narrative. Here Yun consolidates individual “main tones” articulated in step-by-step descent with glissandi and quarter-tone colorations. The main-tone gestures repeatedly break out in the depths or the heights and then are balanced out by the circulation around a single tone in various octave registers.
In the third part a basic meditative stance is attained. Its symmetrical course vaguely recalls the Étude I for flute solo (1974), but in a slow and quiet variant. In Sori, as in general in Yun’s late oeuvre, a tendency to the diatonic stands out, a tendency that the composer explained as an abstraction, as an “elimination of all superfluity”.
Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer (2006)