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Ray Chen - Mozart: Violin Concertos & Sonatas / Audiophile Audition review

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Recorded 21-23 July 2013 at the annual Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, these refreshing Mozart performances rather elevate the "virtuoso" status of Ray Chen into someone more "musical." The suave solo writing by the nineteen-year-old Mozart for Salzburg in 1775 combines affectionate lyricism in K. 216 with an unfettered brio that Chen and Christoph Eschenbach engage with breezy affection. Some may feel Chen's approach remains over-refined, perhaps too restrained. Chen supplies his own cadenzas that exploit the rich verve of the opening Allegro while adding fioritura within the tasteful standards of Mozart's time.

The endless miracle of song in the central Adagio benefits from some lovely dialogue from Chen with two flutes. The young Mozart had absorbed the French style into his own expressiveness, along with the Italianate lyricism he knew from Boccherini and the Cremona violin masters.  Double stops and harmonic runs proceed from Chen in his cadenza, still meditative and arioso in the spirit of the heavenly sonority of the song. The movement ends with a drone figure applied from Eschenbach's responsive ensemble that provides the aerial music an earthy folk idiom. The charming French Rondeau invokes a flighty, witty spirit, rife with sudden injections of fortes and instrumental curlicues.  The brilliant filigree will become fertile in the manner of Tartini and the French court, at once. Nice horn work from the Schleswig-Holstein players to fill out the frothy mix. Chen's brief cadenza adds a martial note or two in playful colors. The last pages ring with affection and youth, of which Mozart possesses an endless supply. READ THE FULL Audiophile Audition REVIEW.