Erhu or Pipa: Choose Your Chinese Instrument

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In honor of WQXR’s China in New York festival, this week’s Showdown is between two concertos for traditional Chinese instruments: Gu Guanren's Concerto for Erhu, "Gazing at the Moon," and Tan Dun's Concerto For String Orchestra & Pipa.

Leading all morning with more than half the vote was the erhu, the two-stringed spike fiddle. We played Guanren's "Gazing at the Moon" at noon.


An Example of an Erhu:

An Example of a Pipa

Comments [18]

Fletch from Lijiang China

Possibly something wrong with the streaming recording of the Pipa? I could not hear a single sound coming from the instrument. It was totally overpowered by the other instruments in the orchestra. Clearly others did not have that problem. I certainly loved the Erhu (er is the number 2 in mandarin and hu refers to stringed instruments). I would love to here at the Pipa (pronounced peewee ba) but sadly could not hear a single note on this recording,

Aug. 05 2015 03:09 AM

I am so sad I missed the two pieces of music. I would love to hear more erhu and pipa music. I listen to CDs of traditional Chinese music but would love to hear more, especially as modern music with or without Western orchestras.
I think WQXR listeners would like this piece - Happy Birthday mashed in with the Butterfly Lovers Concerto. It really amazed me>

Jan. 27 2012 02:50 PM
Kat from New York

I must chose both er hu and pipa as favorites and cannot break up this couple. Regarding is not heard enough in the west. What ever happened to the fantastic recording of Little Sisters of the Grasslands concerto with the Boston Symphony? This was the first performance I ever hear with pipa and symphonic orchestra and it was spine tinglingly beautiful. As a tour manager taking trips to China in the 1980s, I carried a "boom box" and played a tape of this (and the Butterfly Lovers violin concerto)on the domestic flight airplane in China. Western tourists and the local Chinese (many who has not heard these pieces or..not for a long time) were enthralled. I lost the tape and have not been able to replace it. It is extremely thrilling to hear all of the new music and musicians coming from China now. (But do not forget the Cultural Revolution and suffering and do not take the freedoms for granted!) K. Xi

Jan. 26 2012 08:39 AM
Nancy from Singapore

Erhu is so elegant ! Love this rendition

Jan. 25 2012 02:36 PM
Heather Walters from Brooklyn, NY

Loved the erhu piece, especially having once tried to play the instrument myself. I would like to hear more of it.

Jan. 25 2012 12:35 PM
Lauren Scott

Hearing the erhu piece on WQXR was really enjoyable and unusual. Please play it again and other Chinese music pieces.

Jan. 25 2012 12:33 PM
Scott Shifrel from Brooklyn

My third-grade son is doing a project building a pipa for his class China museum and asks that I vote pipa.

Jan. 25 2012 11:58 AM
jean rinaldo from Union city NJ

I voted for the erhu concerto Nr. 2 It is amazing the sounds that can be released by two strings....

Jan. 25 2012 11:57 AM
Kilian S. from Yonkers

I'll never forget being in Juneau, AK for the summer of 2010 and having the great blessing and thrill of hearing a recital given by the great pipa player, Wu Man. It would be lovely to hear more of the pipa repertoire on WQXR :)

Jan. 25 2012 11:31 AM
Mark Bagshaw

The erhu is pronounced "AR-Huu." (ARE-WHO)

Jan. 25 2012 11:28 AM
Steven Fruh from New York

A real New Yorker must vote for the ERHU. It is the true subway artist's instrument.

Jan. 25 2012 11:04 AM
peter winn

Both instruments are extraordinary and too seldom heard on WQXR
--but Tan Dun is the more interesting composer and his concerto repays repeated hearing,

Jan. 25 2012 10:56 AM

For me the Erhu is one of the most beautiful sounding instruments in the world. So full of emotion and heart. It really does sweep you away to a colorful world of spiritualism and mysticism. Absolutely beautiful!

Jan. 25 2012 10:11 AM

Well, silly me, I didn't realize that clicking on the blue line was a vote--I thought it was to just hear the instrument. I really meant to vote for the pipa, but I'll take either one.

Jan. 25 2012 09:33 AM
Frank Lotz from Fort Lee

I find the Ehru to be very disconsonant. It sets my teeth on edge.

Jan. 25 2012 08:44 AM

The pipa is from China, not Japan. Love both instruments, especially the Erhu because of it's similarities to the violin.

Jan. 25 2012 08:43 AM
Bernie from UWS

I love the Erhu players that I see in the subway stations sometimes. Those guys are probably rock stars in their home towns and over here are just part of the regular NY backdrop. I never see any pipa players down there, though. Wonder why.

Jan. 25 2012 08:32 AM
Richard from Astoria

I've heard the Erhu played in both a classical & jazz setting. I love it's Haunting tones & it's versatility.

Jan. 25 2012 07:09 AM

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