- Hot Pepper, for violin & marimba
- Sweet May Again, for double bass & piano
- Melodies of a Flute, for flute, violin, cello & percussion
- Northern Lights, for cello & piano
Chinese-born American composer Bright Sheng, based in Michigan, devises structures that are deep fusions of Chinese and Western idioms, and has even gone so far as to say that he is 100 percent Chinese and 100 percent Western. He often uses Chinese folk melodies of various kinds in his compositions, integrating them with Western textures and structures, but he has rarely taken a Western folk tradition as the starting point as he does here in the title work, "Northern Lights," for cello and piano. The tradition involved is Norwegian folk music, and at several points the work refers to the Hardanger fiddle, something of a cross between a fiddle and a hurdy-gurdy, with a group of drone strings. Sheng makes the cello stand in for this instrument at several junctures, using various techniques; sample the beginning of the second track for one effect. The other works, all recent chamber pieces by Sheng except for 1990's "Four Movements for Piano Trio," are equally interesting. Two of them involve a marimba, an instrument that is neither Chinese nor Western and that fits nicely with Sheng's use of timbre as a structural element. The music was recorded as part of a new series Sheng has established at the Hong Kong University of Science, and the sound is excellent. Recommended, not least for what the album suggests about the nature of the Chinese encounter with the music of the West.