Lui Man-Sing

China: Chinese Masterpieces for the Erh-Hu

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Even amongst fascinating ethnic music instruments, the erh-hu is a class act, and Lui Man-Sing is one of the instrument's best players. It is a two-stringed violin which historically predates most of the axes listeners are familiar with, supposedly introduced into China from Tibet during the Chou dynasty, which could mean people were fiddling around on erh-hus back in 300 B.C. One of the finer projects in the Lyrichord catalog, or rather treasure chest, this can serve as both an introduction to the instrument and perhaps a definitive statement, disregarding whatever might have been played on it in the years before recording equipment. Man-Sing plays both solo and in the company of other instruments, building up to larger ensembles on tracks such as "Dragon Boat Race" and "Triumph From the Battlefield." With song titles like this it is a good thing flute, banjo, dulcimer, and assorted percussion are available to make sounds. One of the erh-hu's specialties is imitating bird sounds, presented to great effect on the opening track, "Birds Returning to the Forest." This track is normally all that is needed to make even the most jaded record collector plunk down their cash. Above and beyond simply imitating sounds of nature's creatures, much of the music is a tribute to natural beauty of a more subtle nature.

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