"traditional Chinese pieces in a series of exquisite solo and duet performances"
1. Moonlight over the Spring River
2. Rainbow Dance
3. Silk-and-Bamboo Music
4. Birds Singing in the Tranquil Mountains
5. Henan Folk Tune
6. Ancient Battlefield
7-16. Song of Consonance (featuring the Amelia Piano Trio)
17. River Melody
NOTES INCLUDE EXTENSIVE ESSAY ON THE HISTORY OF CHINESE MUSIC, INSTRUMENTS AND REPERTOIRE.
In its variety and virtuosity, its linking of the ancient and the avant-garde, this album is an ode to the vitality of Chinese music today. Pipa-player Yang Wei and erhu-player Betti Xiang-- renowned soloists trained by masters in Shanghai--have built a reputation over the past five years for both their international performances of traditional Chinese repertoire and their interpretations of modern works by contemporary Chinese composers working on the cusp of western and eastern classical traditions. In 2001 cellist Yo-Yo Ma discovered the pair and invited them to perform alongside him in a series of concerts as part of his Silk Road Project, featuring newly commissioned works by classically-trained composers from countries tied to each other and to the west by Central Asia's great historical trade routes. These concerts, culminating in performances at the Chicago Symphony Center and the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, were followed by a major tour, dubbed East Meets West, with the young Amelia Piano Trio, presenting traditional Chinese music interwoven with new classical commissions. This recording is an extension of these projects and an expression of their drive to perform works tethered to the past in a way that creates music both innovative and vital. Here ancient and modern pieces shed new light on each other: a 20th-century western-inspired solo erhu showpiece (track 4) is drawn into the orbit of regional opera (track 5) and silk-and-bamboo ensemble music (track 3) from imperial times; while the instrumental pyrotechnics displayed in standards reaching back through several dynasties (e.g. Rainbow Dance and Ancient Battlefield) echo the experimental vocal overlay in a recent commission by acclaimed composer Lu Pei (tracks 7-16). The latter piece, Song of Consonance, captures the spirit of this interplay precisely. The composer consciously builds a western classical work, featuring a piano trio as well as erhu and pipa, around two of ancient Chinese music's elemental forms: the multi-movement suite called xianghe that was developed from the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD) through the Tang dynasty (618-907) and the Confucian ideal of consonance or harmony (he), which beginning in the 3rd century BC formed the basis for an imperial philosophy of music that would be sustained and elaborated for centuries. The result is a breathtaking work that bridges past and present, and, in conjunction with the pieces around it, an unprecedented album that both extends and transforms the Chinese classical tradition.