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Ray Chen's Valentine's Playlist: February 10, 2012

Ray Chen
Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ray Chen


Sony Classical
Rel. 7 Feb 2012

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Since Medieval times, the name of St. Valentine, a Christian martyr from the 3rd century, has been associated with the love-themed feast of February 14 – a day when lovers express their affection through flowers, sweets, gifts, and cards. Valentine’s Day is likewise a holiday when the world embraces romantic music, a domain in which classical composers have excelled through the centuries. Classical Archives is pleased to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2012 with our first official Celebrity Playlist – here presented by the rising star Taiwanese-Australian violinist Ray Chen. Mr. Chen, who was a featured Interview by Artistic Director Nolan Gasser last year, is boasting a new CD from Sony Classical, dedicated to two warhorses of the violin repertory: the Violin Concertos of Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn, from which he features a track on his Playlist – and which likewise includes other beloved romantic works from the Baroque to Modern periods. Beyond the Playlist, the Feature also includes a lovely message from Mr. Chen, introducing the contents of the concert in his warm and engaging style. So, grab your partner, crack open a nice bottle of wine, and celebrate Valentine’s Day with this lovely concert presented by Ray Chen and Classical Archives!

“I've personally gone through and handpicked each track and have come up with 12 tracks that are soothing yet heartfelt, and are sure to make your Valentine’s celebration more enjoyable.”
– Ray Chen

Hello Classical Archives listeners! A very happy Valentine's Day to you all! Whether you're spending it with just friends or family – or if you're lucky enough, with the love of your life – be sure to impress them with the following playlist!  

I've personally gone through and handpicked each track and have come up with twelve tracks that are soothing yet heartfelt, and are sure to make your Valentine’s celebration more enjoyable. I have envisioned that these tracks be enjoyed over a candlelit dinner, or a quiet glass of wine and some conversation, because they are all pieces which create a mood that is very intimate and personal.

The first two pieces are all works that feature the piano, and although I myself never became very good at this instrument, I still love to play it in my spare time. We have Erik Satie's Gymnopedie No.1 followed by Schubert's “Ständchen” from his collection of songs titled Schwanengesang, or "Swan Song". These were originally written for voice and piano, but this piano transcription by Liszt is so profoundly simple yet beautiful, that I felt that it was even better than the original. The third is a piece by the young French composer Yann Tiersen, from his film score for Amélie, called “Poulain” – which alongside the Satie is colored like a French impressionist painting. Oh, and by the way, if you can gather some time to sit down and learn some of these pieces (they aren’t technically so difficult – in this case it’s all about the musicality, and who’s to say that yours isn’t right…?) then I guarantee you will have to fend off the hoard of admirers who will be running your way.  You will never spend a Valentine’s Day alone. Ever!

Next, we have a few tracks which feature violin music – including two works which I have personally recorded, and they are perfect for warming hearts: we’ve got the 1st movement of the Franck Violin Sonata, followed by the 2nd movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.  Then there is Rachmaninoff's Vocalise – which was also originally composed for voice and piano, but the violin transcription... well, listen to it and I think you'll agree that it’s wonderful this way.

The next part of the playlist features works that include more orchestral music, such as Pachelbel's very famous Canon in D and Bach’s Double Violin Concerto, BWV1043. It also includes pieces such as the 2nd movement of Beethoven's Violin Concerto and even Astor Piazzolla’s “Invierno porteno” from his Four Seasons of Buenos Aires – which will make you want to bring out your inner tango.

The playlist ends with two tracks that are quieter and more subdued: the first of the two being George Gershwin’s Lullaby, and then ending with Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” transcription for violin and piano, one of my favorites.

I hope you enjoy your Valentine’s Day wherever you may be.  

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