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High Mountain Flowing Water
Gao Shaun Liu Shui
Thursday, October 16
This rare chance to hear new Chinese music proved to be a beautifully poetic experience.
The only complaint is that the venue did not allow the audience to see all of its many elements. There are as many elements to this work as there are creative minds.
Wu Na, specialist player of the stringed instrument, the guqin; Gao Ping, pianist and composer; Dong Fei, Kunqu opera artist; Jingyin He, multimedia installation artist; and Sarah Brodie, director and choreographer, who received artistic advice from Jack Body and literary advice from Luo Hui.
This broad-based collaboration has created a work of significantly fascinating and seamless elegance from an intriguing mix of genres drawn from many centuries and a diversity of cultures.
Sounds alluding to classical Chinese opera, avant-garde and aleatory 21st century, the percussive rhythmics of Western rock and blues music flowed in and out of each other's spaces.
We heard water trickled through fingers and sounded from the keys of the piano, the guqin conjured sweet melodies and the thrashing of branches in the wind; sounds of nature illustrate that age-old story of love won and lost.
Dong Fei's movements were trance-like stylised and organic, his long sleeves were used to whip the air and the floor.
His movements behind the screen where the angle of the lights elongated his limbs exquisitely blurred any line between animal, human and plant. Similarly, the piano and guqin blurred any line between humanly organised sound and that made by wind and water.
High Mountain Flowing Water is a highly intelligent and sensitive work of great majesty which definitely needs to be experienced again.
- Reviewed by Marian Poole