In December violinist Ray Chen returned to Australia to make his debut recording with Melba. As a special treat to Melba patrons, Di and Lino Bresciani graciously opened their home and hosted a delightful soirée where Ray and pianist Timothy Young offered a sample of the repertoire from the recording that they began earlier in the day.

Ray’s performance was a marvellous example of top-flight violin virtuosity: the mood ranging from vigorous and thundering in Stravinsky’s arrangement of his Danse Russe from Petroushka, to the whimsical in Stravinsky’s Divertimento. The evening was also a wonderful opportunity to hear a fine late-period Stradivarius violin in the most expert hands at close quarters, performed in an excellent acoustic. In the muscular Danse Russe, great discretion is usually required on the part of the pianist so as not to obliterate the contribution of the violinist. It was not the case with both players revelling in the rustic dance. It was not an exaggeration to say that the solo violin produced as much sound as an orchestral violin section.

Ray first came to Melba Recordings’ attention with his win in the 2008 International Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition. Ray, at Melba’s invitation, then played at a Melba function at the New York residence of Robert Hill, then Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, where he wowed the audience with a bravura performance and a stage presence that belied his tender years. Maria Vandamme settled on making a recording with Ray on the spot. In the interim, in 2009, Ray won the world’s most prestigious violin competition, Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition in Brussels, setting him on the road to a major international solo career.

little about Ray’s background: Ray was born in Taipei in 1989 and grew up in Brisbane where his first introduction to the violin was through the Suzuki school. His talent was evident early; Ray made his solo debut with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra when he was only eight years old, then at the age of 15 Ray won a place at the renowned Curtis Institute of Music, where he is now completing his studies with Aaron Rosand. 

As a student of Aaron Rosand, Ray joins the most illustrious traditions of violin playing. Mr Rosand, was a student of the great Russian violinist, Efrem Zimbalist (the father of the actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and also a colleague of Nellie Melba). Zimbalist in his turn was a student of Leopold Auer, father of the great Russian School of violin playing and teacher of most of the great Russian violinists of the first part of the 20th century, Heifitz, Elman, Milstein, Zimbalist to name a few.

The repertoire for Ray’ debut recording is from the Russian composer Stravinsky. When we think of Stravinsky’s music often the first thing that comes to mind is the musical revolutionary who produced the challenging and angular music of The Rite of Spring, or perhaps of Stravinsky’s later music which to many seems dry and bleak. In his solo violin music we find Stravinsky in an entertaining mood, Stravinsky as the joker, the life of the party; The piquancy of his harmonies brings life and humour to his adaptations of other composers’ music, ranging from Tchaikovsky’s ballet music in the Divertimento to Pergolesi (and other baroque composers) in the Suite after themes, fragments and pieces by Giambattista Pergolesi, an adaptation for violin and piano by Stravinsky of his Pulcinella Ballet music and of course the recording includes the famous Danse Russe.

All of the music is now recorded and in post production. We await a most exciting release.

Melba Recordings Pty Ltd & Melba Foundation Ltd
PO Box 415, Elwood Victoria 3184 Australia
Phone: 613 9534 5004  Fax: 613 9593 8533  Email:

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