Tomoko Sugawara

Along the Silk Road

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The kugo, or chang -- the name varies with the country -- is an old, L-shaped harp that died out in about 1700 after being played for many centuries in countries situated along the length of the Silk Road. These compositions, several of them modern with others taking ancient fragments and elaborating on them, illustrate the instrument's melodious delicacy, whether alone or played with the flute or with percussion. It's not a purely academic exercise, but it's almost like slipping back through time. The final two pieces date from the late 1200s and Spain's King Alfonso X. The modern work sits perfectly comfortably next to the old material, and in the comfortable hands of Sugawara, a window opens on another world.

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