Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jiang Jian Hua: The Earth

The Chinese two-stringed violin known as the erhu has gained public exposure of late, both in traditional settings and in east-meeting-west hybrids in the classical world. The instrument’s newfound appreciation in the west is thanks partly to the new crop of Chinese composers, such as Tan Dun and Chen Yi, now living in the U.S. and seeking out ways to synthesize cultures from their respective old and new homes. Erhu player Jiang Jian Hua’s album, entitled simply The Earth (Rhythms of the World/JVC 3506; 58:19), is a good introduction to relatively pure uses of the instrument, which, compared to the western violin, produces a somewhat hollow, yet delicate and singing tone, in good hands like hers. On this album, Hua, born in China but now based in Japan, covers a set of Chinese folk songs from different vintages and regions, including the ethereal Mongolian air of “On the Grassland” and the haunting tune “Moon Reflections in the Fountain,” by the blind street performer Hua Yanjun. The melodic qualities on the album are sweet and flowing, by any cultural barometer.

Originally Published