Chinese traditional music and beyond
Silk Sound

Liu Fang (pipa, guzheng), Alla (oud), Ballake Sissoko (Kora), Henri Tournier (Bansuri)

Label: Accords Croises / Harmonia Mundi | AC116 | released in 2006

Front Cover

Back Cover

This album received the prestigious French
L'Académie Charles Cros award on August 4, 2006

Selected as one of the best disque of the year 2006 (Le meilleur des musiques du monde de l'année 2006 ) by the French New Paper Le Devoir !

"... graceful, soft, yet powerful, ... Thus the joy of this album is not just in the supernaturally soothing and meditative quality of Fang’s pipa, but its merging with other meditative instruments from around the world, ..." - DailyOM, December 25, 2006.

"... a delicately embroidered album that reveals a remarkable cogency between instruments worlds apart..." - ,2006.

"... Whereas in most of her recordings on the Philmultic label Liu Fang concentrates on pipa, for this elegantly packaged release on French label Accords Croisés three of the eleven tracks are guzheng solos, adding variety and giving a wider view of her musicianship. All the rest are pipa-led: four solo, two duets with Ballaké Sissoko’s kora, two with Henri Tournier on Indian bansuri transverse flute, and one with Algerian oud player Alla. .... But Liu Fang’s total devotion to her playing has moved her beyond perfect execution to the creativity and flexibility that marks a true musician. .... The duets here are based on traditional themes but are improvising dialogues. ..." - fROOT magazine, 2006.

"... Each dialogue produces an aesthetic giddiness comparable to that Buddhist paintings express. All project us beyond the feelings of anger, of joy or of pain, and bring us closer to a source of universal serenity." - Les Inrockuptibles, 2006

More Press Reviews



The pieces

  1. High mountains and rippling waters (Guzheng solo, classical tradition)
  2. Jasmine flowers (guzheng and bansuri)
  3. The King Chu doffs his armour (pipa solo, classical tradition)
  4. Primary meeting (pipa and kora)
  5. The dragon boat (pipa solo)
  6. Gold-embroidered tapestry (guzheng solo)
  7. Kangding love-song (pipa and kora)
  8. Autumn moon over the calm lake (guzheng solo)
  9. Light wind in a cloud of falling snow-flakes (pipa and bansuri)
  10. Autumn moon over the Han imperial palace (pipa solo)
  11. A walk in the country of dreams (pipa and oud)

CD review in Mondomix, France

Ever since Liu Fang left China for western climes she has opened up her classical pipa repertory to other traditions. In Berlin her exchange with Syrian ‘oudist Farhan Sabbagh resulted in Fang’s second release “Arabic and Chinese music”. One critic wrote the following: “It is satisfying to hear a group of instruments together, the way they relate, take turns, complement each other. These are master musicians at work, indeed." Similar words can be uttered over “Le Son de Soie”, a delicately embroidered album that reveals a remarkable cogency between instruments worlds apart. The West African kora of Ballaké Sissoko, the ‘oud played by Alla of Algeria, and Henry Tournier’s bansuri flute, are in perfect symbiosis with Fang’s pipa and guzheng.

“I sensed keenly (sic.) her awakening to other forms of music,” explains Tournier in the elaborate sleeve notes, “During our improvisation sessions it became clear that it was the bansuri flute…which pleased her most and could respond best to her own musicality.” The osmosis does indeed appear complete in “Light wind in a cloud of falling snow-flakes,” yet it would be a disservice to the other virtuosic musicians on the album to claim they have come out second-best.

Mali’s Sissoko, in particular, complements Fang’s refined strumming of the pipa, this lute with some 2,000 years of history behind it. In the appropriately named “Première rencontre”, his kora gels with her pipa so gracefully that one wonders if they do not share a common heritage down the millenia. The plectra on Fang’s fingertips alternate between power and delicacy throughout the song, as she displays a technique rarely surpassed elsewhere. It echoes the words of a ninth century sage, quoted in the sleeve notes by Caroline Bourgine: “The stronger strings resonate like a sudden shower of rain, the finer ones like a suppressed sigh.”

Fang proves to be equally adept on the guzheng, this plucked, half-tube zither with 21 strings. The emotion she invests in this instrument of Persian origin transpires in each note: “As she plays her zither, attacking and biting into the strings with her right hand, she consciously replicates the actions and body movements of a fish or bird,” Bourgine notes. This proximity with nature and its animals underscores the spirit of this tranquil and flowing album. Improvisations and spontaneity between the four master musicians never supersede a harmony that seems engraved in the marbles of time. This is a CD to meditate over, and with.

May 2006

Daniel Brown

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