Chinese Erhu virtuoso Yang Ying appeared at Planet Arlington over the weekend with her ensemble. Yang Ying is among the finest erhu artists around, and what made her additionally standout was the skill and authority with which she played her jazz and rock’n'roll tunes. Her ensemble is comprised of superb performers at every instrument: flute, piano/synth, double bass, drums, and guitar.
The problems inherent in playing Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight were exquisitely overcome by Yang. Artistry and intonation prevailed. Moving around repertoire outside the traditional Chinese musical language is dangerous water for the erhu player. Yet Yang Ying seems to easily override the problems that other erhu solists have in this area, notably in intonation. I highly recommend listening to her performance of Sanmen Gorge Capriccio and her own pieces at her MySpace site. Her music includes intricate unison figures, remisicent of the ‘fusion’ era, and her colleagues pull it off in startling fashion.