The composer Liu Xing is a famous instrumentalist on the ruan, also known as the Chinese guitar. He wrote the concerto in the mid-1980s, getting the inspiration for the work from a friend's description of a trip to Yunnan. The piece Reminiscences of Yunnan helped him to establish himself in Chinese music circles, and he later married the girl who provided him with the inspiration for the piece. Let's take a moment to enjoy Reminiscences of Yunnan. This is an excerpt from the third movement, which many music critics think perfectly displays the charm of ruan,, a traditional Chinese plucked instrument.
Born in 1962, Liu Xing entered the Traditional Chinese Music Department of Shanghai Music Conservatory in 1978. During his study at the conservatory and after his graduation, he composed many small orchestral works, including the Animal Suites and various pieces for plucked-strings instruments.
When talking about Liu Xing and his music, you can't ignore the plucked musical instrument, the ruan. The instrument plays a major role in most of the musician's works. It is said that the ruan developed from the pipa, another traditional Chinese plucked musical instrument, during the Western Han Dynasty, more than 2,000 years ago. Zhongruan refers to the middle-sized instrument, which has a peaceful and mild sound with great poetic flavor. When Liu Xing composed the zhongruan concerto, Reminiscences of Yunnan, in the middle of 1980s, the plucked instrument didn't have the high profile that it enjoys today. But today, the ruan is playing a significant role in the composition of both traditional and modern Chinese music. The piece we'll listen to next is called Mountain Song.
Wanting to introduce the ruan to the world, Liu Xing didn't want to confine himself only to traditional Chinese instruments. Rather, he wanted to write for the instruments of orchestras that are found universally throughout the world. In 1998, Liu Xing played zhongruan with a Russian symphony orchestra to display his music, realizing his dream to combine the traditional Chinese music instrument with the western orchestra. Let's enjoy one of the pieces with their combined efforts, named Free Clouds and Lonely Crane.