Liu Fang; Malcolm Goldstein
Philmultic PMPCD809 www.philmultic.com
This double album reflects what appears to be a mini trend: skilled performers of disparate instruments and music genres who once never would have thought of sharing the same stage, coming together in collaborative un-scored improvisation.
The violinist Malcolm Goldstein (b. 1936) is an American born composer and violinist, specialising in free improvisation. Active in the new music scene since the early 1960s, he has developed a totally individual and original approach to violin playing, one which on first hearing sounds distinctly unorthodox. Goldstein’s approach is not to make the violin sound as it “should” in a conventional sense, but to explore making music on it from scratch. Far from being a naïf however, his approach is solidly rooted in the 20th century avant-garde music mainstream and also in Eastern European violin playing traditions.
Based in Montréal, the pipa soloist Liu Fang (b. 1974) has shown a commitment to crossing boundaries. Having obtained a solid foundation on her plucked lute-like instrument at the Shanghai Conservatory for Music, she has performed throughout the world and released 10 albums. In addition to her repertoire of Chinese traditional music Liu Fang has also embraced the culture of her adopted homeland. Her premieres of works by Canadian composers including R. Murray Schafer and José Evangelista demonstrate that. Along the Way is the latest installment of what she calls her “Silk and Steel” projects in which she collaborates with leading non-Chinese musicians from various traditions.
These two master musicians first performed together in 2003 and their years of mutual respect and musical understanding is audible on this album. They seem to be aiming to create 15 very different nature-referenced soundscapes in their improvisations. On track 1, CD 2, the predominant mood is dramatic, while on others it ranges from furious to quiet and silent, to sections sounding disputatious, furious, even bellicose. The dominant texture however is an eloquent musical dialogue with occasional virtuoso flourishes on both instruments; some on the violin would not be out of place in a European 20th c. concerto. Make no mistake, this is sophisticated, richly layered music