The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Virtuoso. Tartini: Violin Sonata in G minor ‘Devil’s Trill’ (arr. Kreisler). Bach: Chaconne from Partita in D minor BWV1004. Wieniawski: Légende op.17, Variations on an Original Theme op.15. Franck: Violin Sonata in A major
Tuesday, 01 February 2011
Ray Chen (violin) Noreen Polera (piano)
Tartini, Bach, Wieniawski, Franck
SONY classical 88697 72320 2
Success in the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Competition has brought the Taiwanese-born violinist Ray Chen an exclusive recording contract with Sony. It is pleasing to find that his debut release is not simply a showcase of his remarkable virtuosity, though he certainly does not disappoint as he parades many of his technical credentials in Wieniawski’s Variations on an Original Theme.
The warmth, delicacy and radiant poetry that he brings to César Franck’s Sonata points us to a very special musician, one who is not yet 22. Every single bar shows affection – the passionate moments generate a free approach to tempos that some may question, but they breathe new life into a familiar score. At the appropriate moments Noreen Polera takes over the forward thrust of the work: her playing is excellent throughout, with the duo working in totally accord.
The disc includes a charming reading of Wieniawski’s Légende, and there are no pretensions of Baroque rectitude in Chen’s big and bold view of Bach’s Chaconne. I enjoyed listening to the whole disc so much that I can forgive his expressive license in Kreisler’s arrangement of the Tartini sonata. Very well-balanced sound quality.
From the February 2011 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.