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Wu Man and Friends

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Album Review

Chinese pipa player Wu Man loves mix'n'match styles, and obviously isn't afraid of a challenge. This time around she takes her tradition and melds it with instruments, singers, and music from the U.S., Ukraine, and Uganda. Unlikely as that sounds, it works well. Yet it's not a deliberate fusion as such; instead everything seems quite relaxed and perfectly natural, as if these instruments had conversed together for centuries. The music is largely traditional, and that works perfectly, especially on the Chinese pieces, where the pipa really gets to sing. She's a virtuoso, but never hogs the spotlight, either as a player or singer (all the cast sings), and seems most comfortable on material from her own tradition. Yet the others are more than just support, every bit as adept and malleable, with Lee Knight a standout. Purists will probably hate this, since it's all over the musical map. But anyone with a taste for brilliant, adventurous playing should lap it up.


Born: 02 January 1963 in China

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Wu Man is a virtuoso of the pipa, a Chinese lute. She is of the Pudong school of playing and was a pupil of Lin Shicheng. Wu Man received the first Master's degree in the pipa, won the first National Academic Competition for Chinese Instruments, and received the City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protege Prize. She was chosen for this award by prize recipient Yo-Yo Ma, with whom she performed at the White House for Chinese and U.S. leaders. She has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet and the New York New...
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Wu Man and Friends, Wu Man
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