“Rising star of the violin Ray Chen , winner of the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition, makes his debut recording on Melba Recordings, accompanied by another fast-emerging Australian talent, the pianist Timothy Young , on Diversions, a disc of scintillating chamber music that presents Stravinsky at his most entertaining, his spirit brimming with optimism and bravura.
The pieces—Suite after themes, fragments and pieces by Giambattista Pergolesi, Duo concertante, Divertimento, ‘Russian Maiden’s Song’ from the opera Mavra and the ‘Danse russe’ from Petrushka—are perfect vehicles to showcase Chen’s violinistic bel canto, his luminous tone and his off-the-scale technique, all to be expected given his competition pedigree. But Stravinsky’s music also provides Chen with the perfect vehicle to demonstrate his genius for vivid musical story-telling. This recording marks Chen as an exciting musical personality as well as a remarkable virtuoso.
While Stravinsky’s violin and piano writing of this music is never less than virtuosic, the performers toss off these technical difficulties with the greatest bravura. The impression we are left with is of the most vivid musical storytelling and youthful joy.
Virtuoso performances of the golden age of the great Russian violin school of Leopold Auer (Heifitz, Zimbalist, Elman et al.) could be characterised as possessing a monumental magnitude of technique, a beauty of singing cantilena, a radiant and ravishing tone and most importantly the ability to tell a spellbinding story in music. By this description Ray Chen is truly a virtuoso of the old school.”