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Chinese Traditional Music

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Album Review

Oliver Sudden Productions' Chinese Traditional Music is the Montreal-based label's strongest asset. Each CD presents a selected repertoire of Chinese folk and court melodies, all performed by virtuoso musicians who manage to deliver traditional interpretations that have enough personality so as not to sound too generic. Hong Ting's album holds true to this aesthetic line previously established by Lei Qiang, Liu Fang and Anna Guo. She presents 16 pieces for solo zheng (also called guzheng), a zither-like instrument similar to the Japanese koto and mostly characterized by its "twangy harp" sound (the strings are elevated over the wooden board, allowing the performer to apply pressure in order to pitch-bend the notes). Ting's selection focuses on the expressive range of the instrument, from solemn processional songs relying on slow melodies with chord accompaniment and allowing the listener to experience the beautiful resonance of the instrument, to fast-paced jigs displaying its flexibility. The sound quality of this studio recording is beyond reproach, significantly better than on Anna Guo's album. Ting approaches her repertoire with refreshing lightness, resorting to playfulness whenever the music allows it (too many traditional Chinese musicians will play any melody as if it was the most significant one on Earth). Some listeners may find this album slightly too homogeneous in sound, but it delivers exactly what it announces: top quality solo zheng performances of traditional songs plucked from several corners of China. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Chinese Traditional Music, Hong Ting
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