Mozart, Violin Concertos and Sonata, R. Chen, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra, C. Eschenbach (Sony, 2014)
Tchaikovsky / Mendelssohn, Violin Concertos, R. Chen, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, D. Harding (Sony, 2012)
Ray Chen launched his career with decisive wins at the Menuhin and Queen Elisabeth Competitions, in 2008 and 2009, respectively. For the last few years he has made the rounds of the local recital venues, including Dumbarton Oaks (2013), the Embassy Series (2012), and the Young Concert Artists series at the Kennedy Center (2009). This was his local orchestral debut, although given that he has just released a Mozart CD with Christoph Eschenbach, Chen's appearance on the NSO young artists series (unofficial) is likely around the corner, although not not next season. Alas, he did not quite have the Tchaikovsky concerto fully in his hands, mostly because of some intonation issues and harshness of tone high on the E string (including the crucial flautando notes in the solo part, which were not all there), possibly because he seemed to be trying to squeeze as much sound as he could from the instrument. The husky growl of the G string and overall big, juicy tone on the 1702 "Lord Newlands" Stradivarius, on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation, were gorgeous, though, as was his often melting legato, especially in the second theme of the first movement and the Canzonetta. An encore, Paganini's 21st caprice, showed effortless technique.
Tim Smith, Rousing Baltimore Symphony concert with conductor Hans Graf, violinist Ray Chen (Baltimore Sun, May 23)
Robert Battey, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra welcomes musicians new and old at Strathmore (Washington Post, May 26)
Next week's concerts from the BSO will feature Mendelssohn's incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, with parts of the play performed by actors (May 29 to June 1).