Chinese Traditional Yang-qin Music is Anna Guo's first album produced and released outside of China. A master of the yang-qin, a Chinese hammered dulcimer with 170 strings, Guo performs mostly solo here, accompanied in two pieces by Ting Hong on zhang and Samuel Hong on small percussion in two more. The yang-qin is a peculiar instrument with a frivolous harmonic table. Played softly, it lets rich overtones rise slowly. Hammered more energetically, both in terms of volume and speed, it saturates the spectrum of harmonics because of its slow note-decay rate. As a result it is difficult to make it sound convincing on record. Most of the eleven pieces presented here are peaceful and pleasurable. In a few, like "Galloping Over the Vast Grasslands," the part calls for more feverish movements and oversaturation of the recording signal occurs. That's not enough to rob the listener from his or her enjoyment though. Guo picked her program from the traditional repertoires of various provinces of China and even stepped out of the's yang-qin songbook, borrowing Wang Hui-ran's pipa piece "The Dance of the Yi People" (see Liu Fang's Chinese Traditional Pipa Music for the original arrangement). The musician's agility is obvious and her touch is light and lively, even in the more serene or lyrical pieces. But she truly shines in the exuberant ones, like "Harvest Celebration" and "Festival in the Tian Mountains" (despite the impact on sound quality).
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AllMusic Review by François Couture