Jiang Jian Hua


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In untalented hands, the two-stringed Chinese violin known as the erhu can sound unbearably squeaky and tuneless. For those who have only heard the instrument played badly, this CD is a revelation. Not only does the instrument have wide tonal range, in the hands of Jiang Jian Hua it also can have a wide emotional range. She coaxes delicate quavers, subtle shifts in tone, and note-bending that isn't entirely unlike a dexterously played Irish fiddle. The music here includes some of the atmospheric, almost mathematical sounding traditional Chinese pieces, but also a few showy pieces that have a more free style and improvisational feel that is almost similar to Arabic music. The result is an album that is far more accessible to non-Chinese audiences than might be expected, and adventurous listeners are encouraged to search for this recording.

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