The Golden Age: Works by Bruch, Kreisler, Debussy et al

Ray Chen; London Philharmonic Orchestra/Robert Trevino (Decca)

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The Golden Age
Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26; plus works by Kreisler, Debussy, Ponce, Koncz and Gershwin
Ray Chen (violin); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Robert Trevino
Decca 483 3852 53:26 mins

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Don’t be put off by the glitz surrounding this new release from superstar violinist Ray Chen. Yes, the album is accompanied by a custom-built computer game and much is made of Chen’s online popularity (with numerous viral YouTube hits to his name), but there’s no false glitter to his playing. Having won the 2008 Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition, Chen is the real deal and this well-produced album, though a hotchpotch in terms of repertoire, makes for highly enjoyable listening.

A celebration of the violin’s ‘golden age’, the album features Bruch’s much-loved Violin Concerto, performed with splendid warmth and character by Chen and the LPO. Otherwise there’s a blend of popular classics and inventive new arrangements, including ‘A New Satiesfaction’ (sic), an unexpectedly fizzing and uplifting arrangement of Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1 performed by Chen’s excellent Made in Berlin quartet (comprised of players from the Berlin Philharmonic). Other highlights are a gossamer-light quartet arrangement of Clair de lune, and Kreisler’s Schön Rosmarin for violin and piano, which Chen plays with his signature vivacity and a wonderfully full-bodied sound.

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Kate Wakeling