In Chinese music, the zheng zither is the favourite solo instrument and has been played and revered for more than 1,000 years. Alongside the pipa lute, also called the queen of instruments, it is looked upon as the most subtle instrument in the Chinese repertoire. At the hands of a master, it brings forth ethereal harmonies and the finest glissandi. In classical compositions for the zheng, meditative-contemplative melodies are resolved in dramatic climaxes. Silence is as important as sound. The poetically iconic titles of the pieces are reflected in corresponding contents, music as intoned philosophy.
Louis Chen is regarded as the most outstanding virtuoso of the southern Chinese zheng school. Professor at the University of Hong Kong, he has been performing publicly for forty years and has gained worldwide popularity for the zheng repertoire. Ya Dong has been playing the pipa since she was six years old and gave her first solo concerts at the age of 13. She worked as a lecturer at the School of Music in Shanghai and has been awarded numerous prizes (among them the Chinese National Prize for Solo Playing). As a contrast to the solo and duet pieces with the pipa, virtuoso performances on three other instruments are included: the Chinese violin or erh-hu, whose history can be traced back more than 3,000 years, the sheng, the great-grandmother of the mouth organ, and the ti-tse or flute. One of the highpoints in the much-lauded WDR concert series "Nachtmusik" is finally available on CD.