Classical Chinese Folk Music [Arc]
It is a touch misleading to list this album under "Various Artists," because a single ensemble with three soloists performs on it. The soloists are Cheng Wu on lutes, Li He on flutes, and Chen Dacan on the erhu, the Chinese two-string fiddle. The soloists are not mentioned on the front cover, although you can figure out the score from the rear. The rest of the ensemble consists of a Chinese bass, hammer dulcimer, and bamboo flute. There are no vocals. The title is also misleading, or at least enigmatic. What is "classical folk music"? The album sounds like light classical music, possibly based on folk sources, but played by a classical ensemble. Whatever it is, it is immensely accessible. The instruments, all unusual to Western ears, blend together to make a harmonious sound, but without surrendering their individuality. The music is carried along by a lilt and a verve that makes it spiritually akin to Celtic music. It offers up a lot of wonderful melodies supported by virtuoso playing on the part of the soloists, especially Dacan on the erhu fiddle. ARC are the people who brought you Hossam Ramzy, who produced this album for them. He's done a good job: The sound is great and the sequence of tracks keeps it interesting. It's a two-CD set and a real find for someone looking for this kind of music or for the curious beginner.