MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin Sonata in G minor The Devil’s Trill (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [14:55]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Chaconne from Partita in D minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1004 [15:16]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
Légende in G minor, op.17 (arr. Gustav Saenger) [7:49]
Variations on an Original Theme for violin and piano in A major, op.15 [12:09]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Violin Sonata in A major [28:53]
Ray Chen (violin), Noreen Polera (piano)
rec. Teldex Studio, Berlin, 19-20 April, 21-25 June 2010.
SONY CLASSICS 88697829672 [79:02]

Experience Classicsonline

Rising stars should be wary of the adman - the TV series is not named “Mad Men” for nothing! I’m sure that people’s backs are put up when they read the title of this disc as ‘Ray Chen Virtuoso’ when they’ve never heard of the artist in question. Well, maybe it’s just me but I was prejudiced from the outset though, as I discovered after listening, for no good reason. Still I don’t believe it helps an artist to have their marketing implying something best left to the listener to decide for themselves. This I did and can say that Ray Chen is certainly a name to look out for in future. At only 22 Chen is already a master of his craft and this disc ably demonstrates that. Opening the disc is a piece that most violinists of note have recorded and Chen makes a great case for it. The legend goes that having denied that a spirit Tartini had dreamt of was the devil, as it claimed to be, the spirit then produced a violin and played the most amazing piece Tartini had ever heard. Upon awakening he rushed to pen as much as he could remember but because of a curse the devil had placed upon him he could not remember any of it and regretted it for the rest of his life. Well he did a pretty good job with what he did write down and the work has always been popular … and rightly so. It is played here without any mannered approach; Chen just allows the music to speak for itself and I enjoyed it more than I have before. Bach, by contrast requires even greater virtuosity - yes I know! - to make a memorable impression and Chen achieves this with the Chaconne from the Partita in D minor for Solo Violin. Again there are no musical histrionics in evidence here, just a beautifully measured and perfectly rounded performance of a work which, in less able hands, can seem harsh.

Moving through the centuries we come to Wieniawski, a composer Ray Chen writes in the liner notes, is his favourite “virtuoso violin composer” as is evidenced by his choice of two works by the Polish composer. The Légende he first performed aged 8 at a competition in Brisbane. He clearly knows the piece well and his rendition is beautiful in its simplicity. He really knows how to play quietly which adds to the overall sense of, as he puts it, “the cream-puffiness” of the work. The other Wieniawski piece, the Variations on an Original Theme, is one he describes as “this massive-monster-mammoth of a piece in terms of technical licks dangerous enough to cause sparks to go flying from the fingerboard.” He says he did not attempt it until “much later in life” – this from someone who was only born in 1989! Again he makes a powerful case for it presenting it in an engaging way that lets the music speak for itself just as in the Tartini. That’s a good thing for a work that is not heard so often these days.

The final work on the disc is the Franck violin sonata which is so often played on such discs and is, says Chen, one of his “favorite pieces of all time” – mine too. I recently reviewed a disc of Shlomo Mintz and Yefim Bronfman playing this along with the Debussy and Ravel sonatas. I rated this disc highly and said I’d never heard it played better. I stick by that but this performance is certainly excellent in every way. That the work is so clearly loved by Chen is self evident and there is reverence embodied in every note. His sweet tone is perfectly in keeping with the music and with the fact that it was Franck’s wedding present to Ysa˙e; what a present! The whole work is beautifully played and Noreen Polera’s accompaniment is a wonderfully judged and sympathetic one as it is in the Wieniawski. Overall this disc is a powerful argument that Chen is on his way to becoming the virtuoso the disc says he is!

Steve Arloff





Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.