Wu Man Featured on ELEGANT PIPA CLASSICS by Wind Music
Taiwanese-based independent record label Wind Music has released the new album Elegant Pipa Classics, featuring internationally renowned pipa player, Wu Man. The album, which is available on iTunes and the website CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com/cd/wuman), is comprised of a total of six tracks each featuring both ancient traditional Eastern tunes and modern works inspired by those ancient melodies. Joining Wu Man on the album are Taiwanese instrumentalists Li Kong-yuan on guqin, Huang Jheng-ming on erhu, and Xu Man-xuan on guzheng.
The tracks on the album are: Thinking of Spring (solo pipa); Rainbow Raiment Song (pipa, erhu, and xiao); Nothing to Do With Romantic Affairs (pipa and guzheng); Autumn Moon over Han Palace (solo pipa); King Chu Removes His Armor (solo pipa); and Three Stanzas of the Plum Blossom (pipa, qin, and xiao). Program notes are available below.
Recognized as the world's premier pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Grammy Award-nominated musician Wu Man has carved out a career as a composer, soloist, and educator giving her lute-like instrument - which has a history of over 2,000 years in China - a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. Through numerous trips to her native China, Wu Man has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China's ancient musical traditions. Her adventurous spirit and virtuosity have led to collaborations across artistic disciplines allowing Wu Man to reach wider audiences as she works to break through cultural and musical borders. On December 6, 2012 Wu Man was named Musical America's 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, the first traditional musician ever to receive this prestigious award.
Born in Hangzhou, China, Wu Man studied with Lin Shicheng, Kuang Yuzhong, Chen Zemin, and Liu Dehai at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first recipient of a master's degree in pipa. Accepted into the conservatory at age 13, Wu Man's audition was covered by national newspapers and she was hailed as a child prodigy, becoming a nationally recognized role model for young pipa players. She subsequently received first prize in the First National Music Performance Competition among many other awards, and she participated in many premieres of works by a new generation of Chinese composers. To find out more about Wu Man, visit www.wumanpipa.org or visit her Facebook fan page.
1. Thinking of Spring "Sih Chun"
Qing Dynasty(1636~1912), Original Scores by Shen Hao-chu (1889~1953 )
Scores Edited by Lin Shi-cheng (1922~2005)
Pipa (Chinese lute): Wu Man
This piece was originally based on the classic tale "Zhaojun Departs for the Frontier". Supposedly when Wang Zhaojun left the capital for the frontier she was full of sorrow, so the piece has a melancholy, grief-stricken mood. In order to convey this emotion, the piece is played primarily with the left hand, so that "abstract" or ephemeral sounds are more prominent than "concrete" or solid sounds, creating a feeling of sighs and sobs. Usually in this type of composition, the performer will intensify the cadence of the melody to express the feeling of grief, but Wu Man quietly and naturally expresses the mood and in the elegant charm of her delicate left hand technique, thoroughly reveals the woman's deep, unspoken feelings without the need for heat or fire.
2. Rainbow Raiment Song "Ni Shang Cyu"
Folk Melody of Jiangnan
Pipa: Wu Man
Erhu (Chinese fiddle): Huang Jheng-ming
Xiao (Chinese flute): Shih Mei-yu
"Hare Rises in the East," "The Silver Moon Toad Spits Color," "The Bright Moon Hangs in the Sky," "Chang'e Weaves with Her Shuttle," and "The Jade Moon Hare Sets."
Even though "Rainbow Raiment Song" is a well-known Jiangnan sizhu ("silk and bamboo" music) classic, this version is a fresh, unusual experiment, performed using only three instruments - erhu, pipa, and xiao. What makes this piece special is that all the instrumentals play the main theme together in unison or at the interval of an octave in an orderly and unhurried fashion, layer upon layer sketching out a beautiful impression of roaming the Moon Palace. As a native of Hangzhou (where this piece is said to originate), Wu Man is filled with delight when she talks about it. She believes that the three instruments together express the free, nimble character of Jiangnan (southern China) folk music and allow listeners to feel simple, natural character of the local culture as if they were sitting in a tea shop by the side of West Lake (Xi Hu) in Hangzhou.