Stravinsky: Suite after Pergolesi

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COMPOSERS: Stravinsky
WORKS: Suite after Pergolesi; Divertimento; Duo concertante; Chanson Russe; Danse Russe
PERFORMER: Ray Chen (violin), Timothy Young (piano)

On the Stravinsky disc the Suite after Pergolesi isn’t the familiar Suite Italienne, but an earlier version which the composer wrote for Paul Kochanski in 1925. Although it uses virtually the same movements from Pulcinella, it’s more of a virtuoso display for the violinist. It’s realised here in violin playing of the highest order. It’s not just Ray Chen’s superb technique, but his sense of pacing in the music that is so striking: there’s always time for the music to unfold, even at speed.
In the Divertimento, arranged from the Tchaikovsky-based ballet, The Fairy’s Kiss, Chen rightly adopts a more Romantic sound. Both he and Timothy Young are right inside the music, and this carries through to the Duo concertante, where their sense of poise and timing allows the ‘Gigue’ to dance, rather than just be a scramble, and the two ‘Éclogues’ and the final ‘Dithyrambe’ are passionate but not overblown. These are hugely exciting debut albums. Martin Cotton