Bloogfolk, Italy - Mei Han has the ability to urge all the expressive possibilities of this instrument. The thrill of this small string ensemble seduces the listener. Magnificent album! Bloogfolk
Songlines TOP of the WORLD - Growing up in Maoist China, Mei Han had to undergo numerous hardships to study her chosen instrument, the guzheng (21-stringed zither). It required hours-long bus journeys to reach her teacher, and she could only pay her with eggs or rice. But Mei Han soon became an accomplished player, and by the age of 19 had ascended to the highest position in the country for a guzheng soloist. Later residing as an academic in British Columbia and currently Tennessee, Mei Han's extensive experience as an ethnomusicologist informs this recording, her first international release.
Rather than retreading standard guzheng repertoire, Mei Han instead chooses pieces derived from historical scores, and performs several original compositions, such as the Balkanesque 'Dark Red Ruby' and 'Girls Picking Flowers'. She also rearranges folk tunes from Bulgaria and Borneo ('Gakino Horo' and 'Datun Jelut' respectively). There is a substantial improvised element, most effective on 'Nokoto', a haunting duet with bassist Laurence Mollerup inspired by the Japanese koto (zither). For most of the album, Mei Han is accompanied by her exceptional plucked-string ensemble, Red Chamber, comprised of the instruments pipa (pear-shaped lute), ruan (moon lute) and sanxian (fretless lute). The ensemble playing is consistently tight and dynamic, exemplified by thrilling ensemble arrangements of pieces traditionally performed by solo traditional instruments. This is a recording that succeeds at continuing a long tradition as well as being innovative and contemporary. Soundlines Top of the World Dec. 2016
World Music Central - Classical & Contemporary Chinese MusicClassical & Contemporary Chinese Music is a globe-trotting delight. Ms. Han and Red Chamber’s Ms. Liu, Ms. Jiang and Ms. Yu are truly impressive in their musical prowess as they are in the musical reach and well worth a listen. World Music Central.org
Monolith Cocktail - Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music is an articulate beguiling showcase; an attentive introduction to both the mastery of Mei Han and her ensemble and the diaphanous sound of the zheng. Monolith Cocktail.co
Ecultura, Hungary - "Gankino Horo” This is clearly the most unexpected item on the disc, as a Bulgarian folk dance in this environment is positively as rare as hens’ teeth.* Despite all my previous assumptions, the four ladies (three of them constituting Red Chamber) perfectly succeeded in conjuring up the Balkan atmosphere and the sound of the bouzouki. (translated by Andrew Timar) Ecultura, Hungary