Passionate and wildly talented traditional Vietnamese instrumentalist and composer Van-Anh Vanessa Vo knows where the soul of her music lies: in her left hand.“It brings out all the colors, everything you want to hear, the bending and sliding notes. Otherwise, with just the right hand, the melody feels so dry,” explains Vo. “The right hand is the father who sired me, but the left hand is my mother who raised me.”
The left hand’s color and emotive quality burst through the diverse and intriguing pieces of Three Mountain Pass (Innova; release: September 24, 2013 through Naxos USA). A masterful player of the 16-string dan Tranh—a zither with moveable bridges and the springy, bending tones resembling the koto—and the pitch-bending monochord dan Bau, Vo draws on the dozens of traditional genres found in Vietnam to craft new arrangements and compositions.