Song of Consonance
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Trained by the old masters of their respective instruments, Yang Wei on the pipa and Betti Xiang on the erhu are two of the newer generation of Chinese classical virtuosos. They are now married and living in Chicago, and this album is a culmination of a good deal of time spent mastering not only the fusion of Chinese classical music with Western classical forms, but also the Western concert circuits, as they've spent some time touring with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road project. After Silk Road, some time was spent with the relatively young Amelia Piano Trio continuing the fusion of East and West with a good deal of avant garde thrown in for good measure. Here, those concerts are extended into an album with the trio. The title suite is a new composition exploring the fusion of an old Chinese folk form with the Western classical and avant garde aesthetics, and it comes off relatively well, although a bit schizophrenic. There's too much dead space and incoherence between the parts to make a complete work of music, but the performers carry it along decently by sheer force of virtuosity. The pieces for solo pipa and erhu (or in combination with one another) are the real treats on the album though, as they give the performers room to stretch out and show their virtuosity on old standards of showmanship. Xiang's erhu wails through the old River Melody quite well, and Wei's pipa follows a full ancient path followed later by Hendrix mimicking the sounds of cannon fire, swordplay, and scared troops in Ancient Battlefield. Pick this album up for the Chinese classical music; but, for the fusion aspects, look to the full Silk Road project or to recordings from other players on the scene, such as Wu Man.