Various Artists

Music of Vietnam [Celestial Harmonies]

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For anyone whose knowledge of Vietnamese culture is limited to memories of war gleaned from gritty Oliver Stone films, this three-CD box set will prove quite an eye- (and ear-) opening experience. Thanks in part to their long history of struggles with Chinese, French, Japanese, and American invasions, Vietnamese music comes in a remarkable array of varieties, ranging from Chinese-influenced ensemble works and folksy solo pieces played on traditional instruments to the theatrical music of the imperial court of Hue. Strangely enough, Vietnamese music sounds much more familiar than you might expect, and this box set makes a wonderful introduction.

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