Chinese Virtuoso Instrumental Music
Throughout a rich five thousand year history, China has developed a highly sophisticated musical culture. The classics of ancient Chinese music not only call for instrumental virtuosity but also rely upon the musician’s skill in bringing to life the rich extra-musical representations and imagery. Ancient Chinese music is in fact, poetry in sound; or similarly, a landscape painting in musical tones, drawing inspiration from and even competing with the subtle and allusive language of classical Chinese poetry, for the ideas and the emotions of the composers or the players. The abstract musical forms of the Western classical tradition, as the sonata or symphony is alien to Chinese musical thinking, rather the focus was always to provide a mental image in sound of a place, or time or person.
On this album, we present ten of the most famous works of Chinese instrumental music interpreted by six top instrumentalists.
The rich variety of Chinese instrumental music founds its inspiration in natural beauty, military heroics and human sorrow. “Ambush on All Sides” is a musical depiction of an ancient battle between Chu and Han tribes during the Warring States period of China’s history. “Waterfall from An Overhanging Cliff” is performed on the Zheng (Chinese zither) and Xiao (bamboo vertical flute) and vividly depicts the natural beauty of a waterfall on a high cliff. “Three Variations on Yangguan” is a piece about the sadness of separation of two good friends. In the piece “Deep Night” you can hear the sounds of a variety of traditional percussion instruments that were used in traditional Jing Ju (Beijing opera) to evoke the excitement of the noisy audience. “Folk Tune” is performed on the bangdi (a high-pitched horizontal flute, made of bamboo) accompanied by a marimba and xylophone, depicting a noisy marketplace. “Flamboyant Dress of Jade and Velvet” is a piece for the Pipa (Chinese lute), Guzheng (zither) and Arabic drum, inspired by the exotic sounds of caravans from the Ancient Silk Road. “General’s Command” is another piece depicting a battle scene. This melody may be familiar to many westerners as the theme from Jet Li’s “Once Upon A Time in China.” While “Reflected Moonlight on Er-quan Spring” tells of the frustrations and sadness of an impoverished street musician. And “Remembrance of Xiaoxiang” is a musical tale of nostalgia and loss of one’s hometown.
琵琶 大鼓 京剧锣鼓
1. Ambush On All Sides
In this music you can envision the fierce conflict of battle. The piece describes a famous battle from 2200 years ago. You can hear the cries of the warriors, the moaning of the wounded, and the clashing of weapons and armor.
“Ambush on All Sides” is one of the most famous works composed for the Pipa. The Pipa is a Chinese lute that first appeared during the Han Dynasty. The Pipa is one of the most thoroughly documented of all traditional Chinese instruments, and appears in many ancient poems and musical manuscripts.
笛子 二胡 大提琴 木琴 马林巴
2. Folk Tune
The Bangdi is a kind of high-pitched flute (or Dizi) popular with local opera troupes in Central China. This piece is a musical evocation of a busy market place, and the morning chores of local farmers. Several different playing techniques were employed in performing this piece to imitate the sounds of the marketplace.
The Bangdi is a member of the Dizi instrument family. The Dizi has a history of over two thousand years and can be made of various materials and comes in various sizes, but the “soprano” bamboo version is the most popular version.
古琴 箫 碰铃 木鱼 大提琴
3. Three Variations On Yangguan
Themes of sorrow, separation and loneliness frequently appear in Chinese classical poetry. In “Three Variations on Yangguan”, the musician is challenged to convey the poet’s melancholy to his listeners. You will be reminded of the suggestive verses of the great classical poets Li Bai and Bai Juyi.
“Three Variations on Yangguan” is performed on the Xiao - a vertical flute dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.– 220 A.D.)
The earliest examples of the Xiao were found in an archeological excavation of pottery dating from the Han Dynasty. The Japanese flute (the Shakuhachi) is actually a variant of the Chinese Xiao.
大鼓 板鼓 京胡 京剧小打
4. Deep Night
On this selection, you are transported to the magical world of traditional Jing Ju (Beijing Opera). However, our arrangement has transferred the vocal parts to an instrumental ensemble, making it a Chinese opera without words.
The instruments used here are the Jinghu (a sopranino erhu usually used in Jing Ju< Beijing Opera >), Bangu (a small, high-pitched drum used in Beijing Opera), Dagu (large bass drum) and other percussion instruments.
古筝 箫 琵琶 低音提琴 碰铃
5. Waterfall From An Overhanging Cliff
This is a piece telling the story of the friendship between a sophisticated musician named Bo Ya and his devoted audience, a solitary man called Zi Qi. Bo Ya was a Guzheng player possessing great skill and technique but he became frustrated than no one was able to understand his music – until he met Zi Qi, a simple man who responded to Bo Ya’s music with deep emotion.
When Zi Qi died, it is told that Bo Ya broke his instrument and ended his musical career, since no one other than his faithful friend would be able to comprehend his music.
The Guzheng is one of the most beloved and popular Chinese instruments, enjoying a status similar to that of the piano in the West.
The Guzheng is a Chinese zither that traces its origin to antiquity and is similar to the Japanese Koto and Korean Kayum. The instrument is built from a half-tube wooden body with strings arched across movable bridges along the length of the instrument for the purpose of tuning. In the early times the Guzheng (or Zheng, for short) had 5 strings; later on developed into 12 to 13 strings in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907A.D.) and 16 strings in the Yuan and Ming dynasties (from the 10th to 15th century). The present day zheng usually has 21-25 strings. In the hands of a master, this instrument can both create a tranquility of sound and a rolling glissando over the open strings.
二胡 箫 竖琴
6. Reflected Moonlight on Er-quan Spring
This is another piece depicting an evocative landscape, as the name implies. The music’s sadness tells the story of the street musician A Bing (a famous Erhu player) whose suffering was a result of his blindness, loneliness and poverty. The melody sounds very simple but the music is full of complex emotions. “Reflected Moonlight on the Er-quan Spring” is A Bing’s most famous composition, but only a master of the Erhu can reveal all the nuance of the composer’s deceptively simple melody.
The Erhu, is a two-stringed, bowed instrument that originated from the Tang Dynasty, and later became popular in the Northern regions of China. For much of the Erhu’s history, it was regarded as a folk instrument, too coarse and unrefined for the music of the Court. Only during the Ming and Qing Dynasties did many music works began to be composed and written down for this instrument. Today, the plaintive sound of the Erhu has become one of the most popular traditional music instruments, and is known even outside of China.
古筝 琵琶 笛子 二胡 阿拉伯鼓
7. Flamboyant Dress Of Jade And Velvet
The earliest versions of the piece “Flamboyant Dress of Jade and Velvet” date from the Tang Dynasty. The original song tells of the legend of Emperor Xuanzong’s visit to the Moon Palace. During his stay, the Emperor saw the fairy dancers, wearing beautiful clothes, adorned with jewels and flowers, gracefully moving in slow circles, like the falling of snow. The music reflects many exotic, foreign musical influences from the travelers of the Silk Road and gives some small indication of the refinement and beauty of how the music at the Tang Court may have sounded.
古琴 中胡 扬琴 笛子
8. Remembrance Of Xiaoxiang
The piece, “Remembrance of Xiaoxiang” is one of the most popular of all Qin melodies, surviving in at least 55 collections of music from 1425 to 1946. The variety of versions as well as the number of publications attests to its popularity. The origins of the work are also well known, being attributed not only to a specific person, the famous Song dynasty Qin player Guo Chuwang of Yongjia (by the southern coast of Jiangsu province), but also apparently connected with specific events in his life: trips to Jiuyi mountains, which run along the border between Hunan and Guangdong provinces. The scenery of the Jiuyi Mountains and of the Xiao and Xiang rivers is mentioned often in Chinese poetry, and it is also a famous theme in painting.
The Guqin in one of the most ancient Chinese instruments, with a history of nearly three thousand years, and has enjoyed continually throughout its long history an unparalleled prestige. Despite the Guqin’s simple construction (a flat bodied, five or seven-stringed zither without bridges), the instrument’s pure, subtle tone has been idealized as the most perfect of all musical instruments and has accumulated a rich symbolic and mythological lore associated with its influence. A Guqin master is venerated as a sage more than as a musician. Mastery of the Guqin was considered one of the Five Gentlemanly Arts to be practiced by the literati. Since November 2003, the Guqin has been registered as one of the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations' Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO).
琵琶 笛子 二胡 古筝 音束
9．A Flower And Its Shadow
This piece features the Guzheng and depicts the falling of a flower into a calm lake. The music traces the ripples across the water’s surface. The sound of this song is very similar to some of Debussy’s Oriental-influenced compositions. Though this is an ancient Chinese composition, its sound world is very modern and Impressionistic.
大鼓 定音鼓 排鼓 唢呐 琵琶 镲
Our program concludes with another piece describing a scene of battle, “The General’s Command.” China’s long history is populated with many brave heroes, fearless generals and Emperors fighting against impossible odds. The stories of their exploits, sometimes triumphant and sometimes tragic, have been the inspiration for many works of art, poetry and of course, music. This piece features a variety of traditional Chinese drums and the piercing sound of the Suona (Chinese Oboe).
The history of drums and other percussion instruments in China date back to the origins of civilization. Many examples of ancient, beautifully decorated drums have been excavated, dating back to the Zhou Dynasty (1122 B.C. – 256 B.C.). Drums were used in nearly every aspect of life, from religious and divination rituals, to signaling on hunts and of course, in battle. The Chinese drums appearing on this recording are the Yao Gu (waist drum), the Da Gu (large bass drum) Ban Gu (a small, high-pitched drum used in Jing Ju ), and Pai Gu and (a pitched set of drums, played vertically) – each with a distinctive timbre and representative of China’s varied and sophisticated drum traditions.
The Suona, (popularly called laba or trumpet, first appeared during the Wei and Jin Dynasties (220-420). Owing to its loud sound and strident, penetrating tine quality, the Suona is admired for its wide expressive range especially for the imitation of the singing of hundreds of birds. Experienced players can control their breath with double lips to produce the characteristic soft tone (called the tone of xiao) for plaintive or sentimental effect. The instrument is commonly used in the accompaniment of local theaters or singing and dancing, and also for solos or ensembles on such occasions as weddings, funerals or other ceremonies and celebrations.
The Introduction of Musicians： Song Fei, Erhu
Song Fei is one of the best loved Erhu players in China. She is a member of the Chinese Musicians’ Association, Director of China Erhu Association, and Deputy Secretary General of Chinese Traditional Instrument Orchestra. She graduated from the China Conservatory of Music and studied with respectively An Ru Li, Liu Ming Yuan, Chen Chong, Li Xiang Ting and Zhangzi Qian (for Guqin).
In 1995 she launched her nation-wide concert tour and received standing ovations where ever she played. In 1996 she organized the ensemble “Nine Chinese Beauties”, an ensemble dedicated to the preservation, study and performance of traditional Chinese music. This ensemble has toured widely, both at home and aboard, including performances at Carnegie Hall (New York), Musikverien (Vienna) and the Berlin Philharmonic. Song’s performance style is characterized by rich imagination, deep emotion, and humor.
Zhang Qiang, Pipa
Zhang Qiang is one of the leading Pipa players in China today. He is Associate Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, and a member of the Chinese Traditional Music Association. He began to study the Pipa at the age of nine with his father, Zhang Li Hua. For many years, Zhang has been committed to introducing the great classics of Chinese traditional music to new audiences, through performances characterize by there virtuosity, creative programming and stylistic variety.
Zhang has worked with many famous orchestras outside of China and frequently performs throughout Asia, Europe, and North America and is a favorite performer at many festivals in Hong Kong, Taipei and Edinburgh (UK). He has released many CDs and has recorded for television, radio, film and opera and even for some pop music. His name has become a household word.
Du Cong, Flutes
Du Cong is one of the best known flautists in China. It seems the he can play anything that his lips touch. He began to learn the flute at a very young age, later attending the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where he studied with the great Dizi masters Lu Chun Ling and Zhao Song Ting. He graduated in 1985 and since has worked with the Shanghai Traditional Instrument Orchestra and is now featured soloist with the Song and Dance Troupe of PLA, China.
Du Cong possesses consummate skill and a natural musicality that has enabled him to master the performance on all types of flutes, especially on Panpipe which earning him the name “The Prince of Panpipe.”
Zhao Jia Zhen, Guqin
Zhao Jia Zhen is considered one of the finest Guqin players in China and has been hailed by the New York Times as “…One of the Best of the Best Musicians!” Zhao is currently Professor of Guqin at the Central Conservatory of Music, Director of the Beijing Guqin Study Association, a member of the Chinese Traditional Instrument Orchestra and juror of most competitions in Guqin performance . She graduated from Central Conservatory of Music where he studied with Wu Jing Lue, Zhang Zi Qian, Gong Yi, and Wu Wen Guang.
Her concert tours have taken her to many countries including USA, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Zhao has performed with the China National Symphony Orchestra, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Brussels National Symphony Orchestra and the Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra. She has recorded the soundtracks for many films, including “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, “Dreams of the Red Chamber” and “Torching Yuan Ming Yuan Resort.” Zhao’s many solo albums have received critical acclaim. In 2006, Zhao was organizer of several national symposiums on the Guqin.
Wang Jian Hua, Percussion
Wang Jian Hua is considered one of the best percussionists in China. Presently, he is the Deputy Director of the Chinese Percussion Association, a member of Chinese Traditional Musical Instrument Association, and Associate Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music. He studied percussion in his youth and attended the Tianjing Opera and Theater School where he continued to work after his graduation. Wang was accepted to the Central Conservatory, where he graduated with honors, and has remained as Associated Professor. From April 1994 to December 1996 he was Principle Percussionist with the Singapore Chinese Traditional Instrumental Orchestra. Wang has received numerous honors and has won many competitions, in addition to having recorded a number of albums. Wang tours frequently and has performed at many festivals.
Chang Jing, Guzheng
Chang Jing is one of the most popular, young Guzheng players in China today. Chang began her studies at the age of eight with Long De Jun and entered the China Conservatory of Music in 1991, where she studied with Li Wan Fen and Qiu Da Cheng. Chang was accepted to the Chinese Song and Dance Group in 1995. Chang has performed in France, Portugal, and Japan in addition to a 15-city tour of the United States. In January 2002 she was invited to be the Guzheng tutor for the Princess of Thailand. In December 2002 she was invited to the Barcelona Music Festival in Spain. And in 2003, Chang toured Germany. She has played with many orchestras, including then China Philharmonic, the Central Dance Company Orchestra, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the French National Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. Chang has released many solo albums and is one of the most versatile performers in China today, and displays a mastery of many styles, ranging from ancient Chinese traditional music to newly composed avant-garde scores, from dance music, to World Music and even pop song arrangements.
音乐制作人, 美国格莱美协会会员 , 创立中国声誉卓著的音乐品牌“瑞鸣音乐”，并任制作人，中国金唱片奖最佳音乐人特别奖获得者。从事音乐创作、制作多年，获海内外重要音乐媒体高度评价，部分作品被海外唱片公司收录出版，所制作的音乐作品在高端音乐市场得到较大认同，并远销海外，销售成绩斐然。担任制作人的唱片及音乐作品曾多次获“美国独立音乐大奖”“中国金唱片奖”“中华优秀出版奖”“华语音乐传媒大奖”等百余个奖项，在中国城市广播联盟评选“中国十大发烧唱片”中数次入选，作品多次入选“CD圣经”等海内外专业评比。因多年与国际音乐制作及出版行业的密切合作经历，音乐创作理念及制作手段具有国际化的开阔视角。
About the Producer:
Ye Yunchuan，Producer, composer, arranger, graphic designer, Grammy member, and the founder of one of China’s most prestigious audiophile recording labels, Rhymoi Music, Ye Yunchuan is further distinguished as the first Full Voting Member of the American Grammy Awards (The National Academy for Recording Arts and Science – NARAS) representing the Chinese music industry. He is, without any question, one of the rising stars in China’s growing music industry. Prior to his current activities, Ye established an international reputation, as a composer and producer, being awarded several American Independent Music Awards, Chinese Golden Album Awards, numerous rave reviews in CD Bible (China) in addition to being included on China City Radio Association’s “Ten Hottest Albums” roundup. Years of cooperation with international music production and publication circles has provided him with a truly global perspective. As founder of his own recording label, Rhymoi Music, he is committed to establishing new standards of excellence for recorded music in China. Rhymoi Music recordings are immediately identifiable - with their innovative approaches to programming, world-class musical and artistic standards, beauty of presentation and packaging, cultural relevance, and their conscious desire to introduce the treasures of Chinese music to an international audience - Rhymoi Music is without peer. With his deep commitment to the traditions and national music of his homeland, Ye Yunchuan is committed to building new and ever more creative and beautiful bridges between the musical heritage of China and the musical traditions of the world. Ye Yunchuan continues to realize his vision with each new recording.
Erhu/Alto Opera Erhu: Song Fei
Pipa: Zhang Qiang
Dizi: Du Cong
Percussion: Wang Jian Hua
Guqin: Zhao Jia Zhen
Guzheng: Chang Jing
Erhu/Alto Erhu: Deng Jian Dong
Jinghu(a sopranino erhu): Wang Cai Yun
Suona (Chinese Oboe): Zhou Dong Cao
Ruan: Wang Jia
Dulcimer: Liu Yin Xuan
Percussion: Liu Gang / Li Cong Nong / Wang Shuai
Arabic Drum: Kasemu
Beijing Opera Percussions: Ma Li / Gao Chao/Gao Yao/Bai Long
Harp: Li Li
Cello: Xu Yu Lian / Cheng Xu / Liu Yan
Double bass: Wang Shuang / Liu Zhen
翻译： Joshua Cheek
Producer: Ye Yun Chuan
Executive Producer: Ye Yun Chuan
Arrangement: Du Wei
Recording Engineer: Li Xiao Pei
Assistant Recording Engineers: Wang Heng / Liu Bo
Booklet Notes: Yang Qian
English Translation and Editor: Joshua Cheek
Proofreading: Veronique L. Ke
Graphic Design: Zhang Hong Ke Design Studio
Mastering Engineer: Tanaka, Koji
Recording Venue: The 480 square Meter Recording Studio of CCTV
XRCD Mastering: JVC Mastering Company, Victor Company of Japan
Produced by: Rhymoi Music. Co., Ltd www.rhymoi.com
Copyright Statement: The music and arrangements appearing on this album have been licensed in accordance with the copyright laws of China. If there are any errors, please contact us.
1．《十面埋伏》Ambush On All Sides
3．《阳关三叠》Three Variations On Yangguan
5．《高山流水》Waterfall From An Overhanging Cliff
6.《二泉映月》Reflected Moonlight On Er-quan Spring
7．《霓裳羽衣》Flamboyant Dress Of Jade And Velvet
8．《潇湘水云》Remembrance Of Xiaoxiang
9．《花弄影》A Flower and its Shadow