Lost Sounds of the Tao: Chinese Masters of the Guqin

WA 2004CD WA 2004CD

2017 remastered edition. Discovered on the shelf of the late Teresa Sterne who created the Nonesuch Explorer series, Lost Sounds of the Tao was first published in 2001 and now comes back through new cutting-edge restoration software. Lo Ka Ping, guqin. recorded 1970, 1971. The guqin was Confucius' instrument, used by scholars and nobles for self-purification. Lo was a Taoist priest (1896-1980) who lived in the remote lands of the New Territories behind Hong Kong, recorded by a pupil in 1970. These rare archival tapes were assembled after an extensive hunt in Hong Kong, New York, California and Taiwan." From the liner notes: "A tape ready of four traditional pieces (Side I) and four original pieces (Side II) for ch'in, played by an old master who lives in a country home in the New Territories. There emerged a vibrant expressive art, its first impression the forthright spirituality of a Blind Willie Johnson (yes, some scales have the blue note intonation!) who made his Ming Dynasty qin state and moan out visions, as panoramas of ancient brush paintings danced before my eyes, attaining life in sound, all their varied densities in depicting nature now breathing amidst sonic rainbows unleashed through the qin's harmonics. The scratching of the silk strings as one changes the finger positions is referred to as the instrument's respiration. Lo's non-thematic use of the fundamental tones in the beginning of the first piece were akin to a veena beginning a raga, causing one to wonder if this manner had become embedded in his music from the early visits by Indian Buddhists, who had brought their own instruments to China. What so casually endows Lo's playing with profundity and depth is the philosophy behind the music, entering the sound through the Tao rather than displaying the fruits of a learned craft, for he was completely self-taught and thus freed from any burden of tradition. His performances, compared to most other players, brim with vitality and spirit, like found objects emerging forth into independent existences, unlike the imposed rhythmic regularity and extremely slow tempi the works are often given by scholars. Lo was alive until 1980 (age 84).