Press review

The WholeNote Magazine Toronto, April 3, 2003

The Soul of Pipa Vol. 2
Liu Fang

Philmultic PMPCD001-2

Chinese music: The soul of pipa, Vol. 1, released in 2003 This CD is a veritable feast of alluring sounds, ranging from the eloquent and lyrical to the flamboyant and percussive. The varied soundscape produced by one player and one instrument is quite dazzling. Liu Fang’s masterly technique (e.g. tremolo, delicate harmonics, lyrical tunes, and boisterous percussive effects), as well as the music itself -- which is based on short sections characterized by ever-changing tempos and dynamics -- all evoke an improvised and exciting quality.

The pipa has for a long time been one of the most popular instruments of Chinese classical and folk music. Dating back as far as the T’ang dynasty (618-907), it is a pear-shaped, fretted, short-necked lute with a bent neck which is both a solo and ensemble instrument. Liu Fang studied pipa from the age of six, and is a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory. She has been based in Montreal since 1996 and has clearly made great inroads in the Canadian and European market. 

This CD is the second in a set of three featuring music for the solo pipa. Unfortunately, the liner notes give us no information about the music itself, other than titles and composers. Considering this is aimed at a general Canadian audience, some background would have enhanced most people’s understanding of the form, techniques, and programmatic song titles. The eight featured pieces range from traditional, e.g. The Ambush which depicts an ancient battle scene, to more recent works by composers of the late 19th/early 20th centuries such as Liu Tianhua and Hua Yanjun. 

Definitely a CD to enrich anyone’s musical palette and provide a sample of China’s rich musical heritage, it is more readily available in Quebec stores but can always be found through

Annette Sanger

[french translation]

Ce CD est un véritable régal de sonorités inouïes, allant d'accents éloquents et lyriques aux plus flamboyants et percutants. Le plus surprenant réside dans le fait que l'étonnante richesse du paysage sonore déployé n'émane que d'un seul interprète. La maîtrise technique de Liu Fang - dans les trémolo, les harmoniques subtils, les airs lyriques, aussi bien que dans la perfection des effets de bruitages- et la musique en elle-même, dont chaque brève section s'inscrit dans une dynamique de rythmes fluctuants, concourent à une délectable perfection qui confine au ravissement. ... Voilà vraiment un CD propre à enrichir la palette sonore de tout un chacun, donnant un aperçu de l'insondable richesse de l'héritage musical de la Chine. , ... (Annette Sanger)

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