Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream

Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream

The Pipa [pear-shaped lute] at its most succulent
Gao Hong
Lin Shicheng
Biplap Bhattacharya
David Hagedorn
Gao Hong
Joseph Schad
Kenny Endo
Michelle Kinney
Nirmala Rajasekar
Shubhendra Rao
Catalog Number: 

Beijing, China

Release Date: 
Aug 31, 2010
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream: New Chinese Pipa Music by Gao HongiTunes Artist's PageiTunes Album Page
Song TitleTimePrice
2.Mother-in-law Arguing with Daughter-in-law05:14$0.99
4.Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream09:25$0.99
5.Flying Dragon Concerto08:43$0.99
One Sheet: 
Gao Hong is an acknowledged virtuoso of the Chinese pipa (pear-shaped lute), touring the world playing major works by Tan Dun, Zhou Long and others. But she is also a composer of distinction, elegantly weaving international styles into a tangy new cosmopolitan chamber music. In addition to her captivatingly energetic playing, “Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream” – her first album devoted to her own compositions – features an all-star cast of international musicians from India, Japan, and the U.S. It’s a rich and profound journey that explores several autobiographical elements; from the death of friends to the joy of her own daughter’s triumph over leukemia. The title track blends Chinese and Indian flavors in the form of a pipa-sitar duet where Gao Hong and superstar Shubhendra Rao playfully depict the healing powers of forests and streams. The hauntingly tender voice of Nirmala Rajasekar introduces “Butterfly”, dedicated to those who have brought beauty into our lives but left too soon. Gao Hong’s passion for preserving her beloved Pudong style of pipa playing is marked by the world premiere recording of the comical “Mother-in-Law Arguing with Daughter-in-Law”, a piece lost for over a century that was recently reconstructed by Gao Hong’s mentor - the late pipa master, Lin Shicheng - and passed on to Gao Hong during her travels to Hong Kong and Beijing. Gao Hong’s young daughter provided the inspiration for “Courage” thanks to her incredible will to live while undergoing (successful) treatment for leukemia over more than two years. In a similar tale of overcoming, Gao Hong’s own tale of emergence from the Cultural Revolution into a globe-trotting citizen is told in “Flying Dragon Concerto”. The final track, “Celebration”, unites all the artists (along with taiko hero Kenny Endo) in a festive romp of polyglot vocal percussion; a suitable way to mark the various life journeys and reflect on 35 years of travel shared closely with a beloved instrument.

Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream is quite an achievement. Ms. Hong plays with a real virtuoso's mastery. He has for this album created six quite varied musical contexts. He can be found playing a fascinating Chinese-Indian hybrid, a contemporary-improvisation-meets-Chinese-meets-Japanese-Taiko-drumming piece, in a quasi-Western-classical mode, and in a solo context where the pipa tradition is invoked with sensitivity and musical bravura. I've certainly never heard anything like this one before. What's most impressive is not so much that he attempts these unusual and unprecedented stylistic szygys. It's that the resulting music wholly succeeds; so much so that it even sounds like a natural and inevitable thing that's been happening for centuries, which of course it has not. If you want to branch off onto a quite different musical path, listen to this one. It's rather incredible really.

- Grego Edwards, Gapplegate