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12 Girls Band: Live from Shanghai

4.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Prepare to be captivated by the graceful beauty and infectious energy of the 12 Girls Band! Two years after their best-selling, chart-topping US debut, Eastern Energy, the group returns with a brand-new album (Shanghai) and concert DVD (Live from Shanghai), showcasing an eclectic mix of traditional Chinese folk melodies and selections of jazz, classical, and pop music.

Formed in 2001, their 2003 debut album in Japan, Beautiful Energy, sold 2 million units, and ranks as the highest-selling Chinese band in Japan. These 12 talented young women playing traditional Chinese instruments — the erhu, pipa, yanguin, and gu zheng — create masterful music on a broad musical canvas in an unforgettable and distinctive style all their own.

American audiences will witness the worldwide phenomenon in concert when 12 Girls Band embarks on a major 30-city U.S. tour in the fall of 2007.

More from 12 Girls Band


Eastern Energy

Shining Energy

Best of 12 Girls Band

Romantic Energy

Amazon.com

PBS darlings the 12 Girls Band captivates fans all over again in their dazzling concert DVD Live from Shanghai. The band actually consists of 13 (a baker's dozen?) comely virtuoso young Chinese women, who play both traditional Chinese melodies and Western classical and pop tunes on their classic East Asian instruments, the erhu, pipa, yanguin, dizi, and guzheng. The spectacle is just as entertaining as the tightly delivered musical offerings, and this concert, which also showcases the gorgeous setting and skyline of Shanghai, is about as close to a trip to China as you can get without a passport.

Highlights include the band's renditions of Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach--the last an especially accomplished, memorable version of the Concerto for Violin in A Minor. Traditional Chinese melodies are striking on pieces like "High Mountain and Floating Water." The band is joined by the talented singer Lila Downs for such vocals as "La Habanera" from Carmen--for which goosebumps are the order of the evening. Even a hoary jazz standard like "Take Five" sounds fresh in the hands of these enthusiastic musicians. (Tip: Skip over the theme from Titanic, or that refrain may haunt the rest of the concert.) Music fans from across the globe should be dazzled by the talent contained on this single stage. --A.T. Hurley


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Manhattan Records
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2007
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PDZIZY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,572 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Herb Schulsinger on June 9, 2007
Format: DVD
Brian Kohler wrote: "how can there be 13 girls in the 12 girls band? Thats craaazzzy!!!!"

Not so craaazzzy. There are 13 doughnuts in a baker's dozen and the Three Musketeers had four members, Porthos, Athos, Aramis, and d'Artagnon. Gotta learn to think outside the box.

But, more to the point, the Twelve Girls Band is outstanding, especially, I think, for their masterful renditions of Bach and Beethoven. I had my doubts that European classical and baroque music could be played appropriately on Eastern instruments, but they quickly disabused me of that idea. I felt the same way about Bela Fleck playing Bach on the banjo, but he proved that good music could be played by talented musicians on any instrument and made to sound as though it had been written for that instrument. Terrific DVD...highly recommended!
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Having enjoyed considerable time in Shanghai, and listening to and watching the Twelve Girls Band's performances on CD and DVD for several years, I confidently invite you to an audio-visual delight! This DVD provides not only an unforgetable late-evening visual tour of the Shanghai-Pudong area, but also a lasting exposure to some of the finest music available in the world today. These very attractive young ladies are incredibly competent musicians who employ ancient, traditional Chinese musical instruments to turn their renditions of contemporary songs into glorious listening experiences.
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This is The Girls' ninth DVD. Unlike others, this one is filmed live in Shanghai in an open stage with a few songs by guest singers.

There is a mix of old songs and new songs. The new ones are mostly played excellently. The Bach's Concerto for Violin in A Minor outperforms the usual violin version. This will become another hit after New Classicism. The La Habanera (from Carmen) sung by Lila Downs is my favorite. Fragile deserves special mention here. The instruments do not seem to tie in well with My Heart Will Go On, perhaps due to the fact that the tone of erhu is too "sorrow" for the song, which requires a touch of romance and softness. Carnival is an old song but played in this DVD much better than other previous DVDs.

Overall, I would rate this DVD my second best after Miracle Live DVD (performed in Beijing, now out of stock) and is a must buy for new (as well as for returning) customers. Two other must buy DVDs include the Romantic Energy 2005 DVD and A Tribute to Wang Luo Bin DVD (for those who are familiar with Chinese folk songs). The Eastern Energy CD is also a must buy.
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I've always been a fan of Twelve Girls Band. I love the sound of the group of Chinese instruments, the song selection is mostly upbeat, and it's nice to play as background music. There are only two song on this playlist which I don't care for - one of them has a section where the girls sound like they are going "ahhhhhhhhhh" in this awful high pitched voice, and the second is "My Heart Will Go On". Outside of those two songs, the rest of the compilation is quite good. Recommended.
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This group is tops for musicianship and you get the treat of hearing unfamiliar instruments play old favorites. Everyone that I've loaned this to has fallen for this group and their music.
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Don't get hung up counting the band members, yes there are thirteen on the cover... The name is probably more lyric/significant in the native Chinese. But just forget about all this, put on the disk and listen! It may not sooth those looking for atmosphere music, but these ladies bring the spirit of their ancestors right into the 21st century. Driving drums and big production values join with contemporary arrangements to deliver a sound unlike any you have heard before. Lovely and wonderfully adept, 12 Girls Band is an absolute aural delight!
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I have watched this production on PBS twice and again on the dvd. I consider this one of the finest cross-cultural offerings I have ever seen. My only disappointment was that there aren't notes about the various oriental instruments being played. An astounding production - beautiful music with beautiful girls in a beautiful setting.
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This performance is right up the alley for a typical, highly produced PBS performance: a grandiose setting replete with high production value, frequent dramatic flourishes, cameras all over the place, and costume changes galore. Fortunately it's a really good show, and I'd recommend this to almost anyone desiring an upbeat musical experience.

These 13 girls (yep, count 'em) possess the perfect made-for-feature-DVD combination of expert musicianship and beauty pageant good looks (all of them!). They play strictly traditional Chinese instruments, although a backup band (rock music instrumentation) is there to fill in the gaps and get the toes tapping of as many international viewers as possible.

For those who are wondering about the instrumentation, it was mostly like this:
- Erhu (5), two-string "Chinese fiddle," bowed next to a small resonator covered with python skin
- Pipa (3), China's main lute, and probably its most popular plucked instrument
- Guzheng (1), a zither with movable bridges
- Yangqin (2), Chinese version of a hammered dulcimer
- Dizi (2), wooden, transverse flute, with an extra hole covered by a tissue-thin reed
One of the dizi players moved to the xiao, a long, end-blown vertical flute, for several numbers. Also, on one number only, an erhu player showcased the duxianqin, a single-string zither employing a flexible rod to vary string tension (quite captivating).

Arranging pop/jazz/classical tunes for oriental traditional instruments is a hit-or-miss proposition, in my opinion, and I was hoping for fewer of these numbers and more traditional Chinese folk melodies. Handel's (Royal Fireworks) came across like a funky march. Mozart (Symph #40) and Beethoven (Symph #5) were also relegated to a Top 40-ish feel.
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