|Traditional music is well served in this varied programme from the Chinese-born pipa and guzheng player, Liu Fang.
In "The king of Chu doffs his armour", austere melodies and brittle downstrokes of her solo pipa (a 4-string lute) narrate the ancient story of the tragic demise of the beloved king of Chu province. In another track that's filled to bursting with rapid muted runs and virtuoso swells, the pipa mimics a spirited competition between three dragon boat teams in "The dragon boat" (a more recent composition from the 1960's.)
Whereas in tracks like "High mountains and rippling waters", and "Autumn moon over the calm lake", the guzheng (a 21-string zither) with its bright metallic shimmer and piquant treble notes paints soothing sound pictures of human experience, poised as it is, between the canopy of sky and the enduring earth.
This said, Liu Fang is different, for she dares to play beyond the classic Chinese repertoire to engage in a series of stately, first encounter, duo improvisations.
So we find that "Primary meeting"'s frailing pipa is accompanied by the buoyant, traveling vamp of Ballaké Sissoko's African kora (resonating stringed gourd). "Jasmine flower" is a distillate of dry pipa tone and human breath blown through the sweet-toned Hindustani bansouri (flute) of Henri Tournier, and in "A walk in the country of dreams", Alla's Algerian oud (lute) converses simply with Fang's pipa in a world of calm, clear air.
Liu Fang's ambition has delivered her to a trouble-free zone of lento tempos and rich sonorities where happily met musical minds play easily in a world of artistic suggestion.
by David Fujino March 2008