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Savage Beauty — Take two

Three months ago I blogged about Min Xiao-fen’s exceptional new recording, “White Lotus,” in which her pipa is mated with Rez Abbasi’s guitar. The music comes from her soundtrack to a classic Chinese silent film: “The Goddess.”

I’m delighted to see that NPR has now done an enterpirising seven-minute feature.

Here’s an excerpt:

ABBASI: And there is that scene [in “The Goddess”] where the principal comes to visit the mother and son. And we both dig into a kind of the blues . . . It’s like a blue pipa.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIN XIAO-FEN’S “HATHA (SUN AND MOON)”)

MIN: It’s a little bit like the swamp kind of idea, because, you know, Chinese [music] has a blues, too. . . . And so that’s why I feel this American style for blues swamp is the perfect match with the Chinese blues.

ABBASI: Yeah. Chinese opera’s drenched in the blues, actually.

How I wish the musical fusion of East and West more frequently attained the synergies explored in this remarkable recording. One father of all such synergies was the master American composer Lou Harrison, who in his majestic Piano Concerto fused gamelan with Brahms. It worked because he dealt not only with intermingling surface attributes, but intermingling creative idioms: from the inside out. 

an ArtsJournal blog