Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Music Review

Bao Skillfully Shows Versatility of Quanzi

March 27, 2000|DON HECKMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Listening to Chinese music is experiencing living history. On Saturday at the Zipper Concert Hall, a Pro Musicis program of ancient and contemporary Chinese music showcased the quanzi, an instrument that traces back 2,000 years to the Western Han Dynasty.

The small, double reed pipe, related to the shawm and the oboe in Western music, the shenai in Indian music and the duduk in the Middle East, was played with extraordinary virtuosity by Bao Jian, a pioneer in the quanzi's contemporary use. Performing solo or in duet with Hu Jianbing (who played the sheng--a multiple-pipe, mouth organ-like wind instrument that first surfaced nearly 3,000 years ago), Bao) clearly defined the quanzi as a musical voice capable of reaching far beyond its early roots.

In Bao's hands, the instrument's low notes resembled the dark warmth of the clarinet's chalumeau register, its higher lines recalled the plangent top octave of the oboe. For the opening portion of the program he focused his timbral colorations upon a group of traditional Chinese themes. The combination of the quanzi's dancing melodies with the multi-tone, melody/rhythm accompaniment of the sheng was magical, a remarkable expression of the depth and range that exists within the pentatonic orientation of traditional Chinese music.

On the second half of the concert, Bao moved into a more contemporary setting, performing modern works for the quanzi in duo combinations with the pipa (a lute-like instrument), piano and alto saxophone. The latter combination, with guest saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky, offered the Los Angeles premiere of composer Lei Liang's "Extend (2000)." Positioning the saxophone in written passages using long held tones contrasted with such unusual sound-producing techniques as slap-tonguing, the work allowed Bao to expand upon the work's melodic contour via improvised pitch fragment enhancements. Here, as elsewhere in the program, Bao's virtuosity was the key element, delivering vanguard music from one of the world's most ancient instruments.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|