Chinese classical music is a much larger field than Western classical music. It covers a huge geographical area as well as a time frame of thousands of years. Although some of China's musical instruments have changed very little in hundreds or thousands of years, others were adapted to Western standards under the influence of Russian musicians during the middle of this century. In some cases, frets were added to non-chromatic instruments and tonalities standardized. The liner notes of The Hugo Masters: An Anthology of Chinese Classical Music contain extensive documentation of the various instruments used in Chinese solo and orchestral music, with descriptions of their history and modifications, as well as an essay to help Western listeners understand the background of Chinese classical music.The instruments fall into four categories, each constituting a separate compact disk:
Volume One: Bowed Strings
Volume Two: Plucked Strings
Volume Three: Woodwinds
Volume Four: Percussion
These disks are available individually or as a collector's series in a beautifully designed silk boxed set. The music itself is highly varied and richly emotional. The music paints pictures of China's people, their culture and homeland, and their dreams and their despair. The Hugo Masters: An Anthology of Chinese Classical Music is a joint effort of the Hugo and Celestial Harmonies labels to bring this definitive anthology to listeners worldwide. This is the first time these recordings have become available to audiences outside of Hong Kong. For listeners unfamiliar with Chinese classical music, these works are a powerful and emotional awakening.