Pianist Tony Chen Lin’s debut CD for Rattle a must-hear…

Digressions

Middle C
CD Review: DIGRESSIONS

My first encounter with Tony Chen Lin was in 2008 at Kerikeri’s International Piano Competition, in which he was awarded what I’ve always regarded as a “too close to call” second place to his friend Jun Bouterey-Ishido. Since then I’ve heard each of them some years afterwards give separate recitals in Wellington; and while appreciating the unique excellence of each, I’m still unable to pronounce either of them the other’s superior. Most recently I heard Lin perform at St.Andrew’s, which was less than a couple of years ago, in September of 2016  (the review can be read at the following link – http://middle-c.org/2016/09/tony-chen-lin-piano-evocations-visions-and-premonitions-in-st-andrews/ ), and two of the items he presented on that occasion are now included on this, his first CD, appearing on the Rattle Records label.

The CD’s overall title “Digressions” is borrowed from one of these two pieces, in fact Lin’s own composition. As its subtitle Meditation on R.S. suggests, the piece is a kind of reflection on Robert Schumann’s Humoreske, the work that concludes this recording’s programme. The opening tones of Lin’s piece seemed conjured out of the air, with ...continued

Continue reading...

Otago Daily Times CD Review: DIGRESSIONS

ODT 2 June

Otago Daily Times
CD Review: DIGRESSIONS

DIGRESSIONS - Tony Chen Lin (Rattle) (Rat-D080 2018)

This fine debut album from Lin features three appealing but seemingly unrelated works. Bartok's Piano Sonata in three movements, written in 1926, provides a fresh and lively beginning to the programme, followed by J.S. Bach's French Suite No.5 in G major BWV816, which also has a lively appeal, with seven short dance movements showing Bach in some of. his happiest moments of joy.

The final classical work is Schumann's mercurial Humoreske Op.20, in six slightly longer movements, and where the ''humour'' refers to a study of the human condition. The composer confessed in a letter to Clara that he was ''laughing and crying at the same time'' when he .. wrote it.

In deliberate ''digression'' (echoed in the album title), the soloist has sandwiched in his own five-minute composition Digression, subtitled as '' Meditation on R.S. '', which introduces the Robert Schumann masterpiece, and is itself inspired by the digressive nature of that work.

Lin won the NZ National Concerto Competition in 2007 and other scholarships and honours since then, including being a multiple recipient ...continued

Continue reading...

New Zealand Opera News CD Review: DIGRESSIONS

nzopera digressions review

New Zealand Opera News
CD Review: DIGRESSIONS

DIGRESSIONS - Tony Chen Lin (Rattle) (Rat-D080 2018)

It is clear both from his playing and his notes to the recording that Tony Chen Lin is a deep thinker. Raised in Christchurch and initially studying with Goo Ping he won the Christchurch Junior Concerto Competition, the New Zealand Notional Concerto Competition, and was placed 2nd in the 2008 Kerikeri International Piano Competition. He is now making a name on the international circuit.

The programme on his debut CD is eclectic - beginning with Bartok's tough Piano Sonata. Having studied with Peter Nagy in Christchurch and then at the Liszt Academy in Budapest he has a wonderfully innate understanding of Bartok's style in a very clean, exact performance of the difficult work, without sacrificing any of its drama and style.

The Bartok is followed by Bach's French Suite No. 5 in G Major (BVN 816). Again, the clean, purposeful playing immediately arrests the ear. He never forgets that it this is dance music, hence one of the links to the Bartok. Although played on a piano, there is a nod towards authentic performance practice with very light pedalling, ...continued

Continue reading...

A Provocation of Rattles (2018): Digressions, sojourns, shadows and sonorous sounds

Digressions

Elsewhere
CD Review: DIGRESSIONS

Tony Chen Lin: DIGRESSIONS

Bartok, Bach and Schumann form the bulk of this debut album by the award-winning China-born, New Zealand-schooled pianist now based overseas. The title piece however is an elusive composition of his own which very slowly comes to life like a flower unfolding and doesn't quite establish any particular motif in its five-plus minutes but suggests a number of directions and teasingly follows few for any duration.

It is an oasis of reflection and as he says in the liner notes he often uses it as hors d'oeuvre before Schumann's Humoreske (which here follows) because it too is a piece which seemingly does not begin.

That said Humoreske is a beautiful, melodic and sometimes reflectively melancholy cycle which is by turns whimsical, sprightly and gently effervescent and at others broods among the joy of life around it, making connection with pleasure only when it suits. Chen Lin captures all of these moods.

The Bartok Piano Sonata BB 88 from '26 opens the album with a work which straddles the worlds of classical structure and folk idioms so there is that earthy second movement which seems to pull ...continued

Continue reading...

Review: Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s Pathétique

eight_col__DSC9437

Radio New Zealand
Masterworks: Pathetique
Christchurch Symphony Orchestra with Tony Chen Lin (piano)
Charles Luney Auditorium

Ravel – Piano Concerto in G (1929-1931)

But, even so, the highlight of this concert was Ravel’s G Major Piano Concerto.

The soloist was former Christchurch pianist Tony Chen Lin who, we were told, was making his professional concerto debut with this performance. And what a performance!

This is, technically, a very difficult work, but every colourful nuance and detail was fully projected by the soloist with masterful variety of light and shade and an almost chamber music feel in the way he worked with the orchestra; and the orchestra here were equal stars in the way they brought Ravel’s colourful magic to life.

For much of the piece, I’m aware of watching and listening to the orchestra just as much as the pianist and so many special details were just so brilliantly done. There are just so many solo contributions from the orchestra, but I specially have to mention the CSO’s long-time ‘crack’ percussion section, who also, incidentally, shone in the Leonie Holmes piece.

But Helen Webby’s harp solos were simply ...continued

Continue reading...

CSO: Why emoting has never sounded as good as this

1522012556687

The Press
Masterworks: Pathetique
Christchurch Symphony Orchestra with Tony Chen Lin (piano)
Charles Luney Auditorium

This was Tony Chen Lin's big night, but the lanky Chinese-New Zealander showed few signs of nerves as he walked on stage at Christchurch's Charles Luney Auditorium on Saturday.

This was a return home for Lin, who won the Christchurch Junior Concerto at the age of 14, before graduating from the University of Canterbury with string of accolades and moving to Europe to complete his classical music studies.

Now he was back to make his professional debut with the CSO. Greeting him was conductor Benjamin Northey, a full house and one of the most demanding piano concertos in the repertoire – Maurice Ravel's dazzling Piano Concerto in G major.

Unfazed, Lin conquered this seductive Gallic siren in a fastidious, yet full-blooded performance, marked by total control and diamond-hard precision. It was also a partnership made in musical heaven, as the CSO and Lin together tackled Ravel's slightly louche jazz inspired moods with exceptional clarity and control. Lin played the wistful slow movement with such sensual intensity that you could almost sense an audience holding its ...continued

Continue reading...

Piano and Violin in Perfect Sync

Christchurch Mail

Christchurch Mail
Tony Chen Lin (piano) and Jun Hong Loh (violin)

Review: Patrick Shepherd
The Piano, Christchurch.
10 April, 2017

Tony Chen Lin is very familiar to Christchurch audiences, having lived here when he was younger and made numerous trips back to perform since studying and work­ing overseas, but he has now introduced us to another fine musical talent in violinist Jun Hong Loh.

Every note, phrase and inflec­tion were carefully considered, both players extremely expressive in their playing and demeanour as they explored every avenue open to them in the three quite different works on show today.

From the opening bars of the Allegro from Mozart's troubled Sonata in E minor K.304, it was clear that here were two performers totally in sync with each other, both playing with the same intent, understanding and musical direction.

The two movements presented today showed both the sadness and the optimism that pervade the sonata.

In the Tempo di Minuetto the duo achieved a sense of aching from the plaintive violin opening and the frequent mood shifts were well done. I particularly liked how they created a sense of space by taking plenty of time.

Gao Ping's Questioning the Mountain was ...continued

Continue reading...

Musical Game of Twister Impresses

Christchurch Mail 23.11.2017 - Jun and Tony Duo Review

Christchurch Mail
Tony Chen Lin and Jun Bouterey-Ishido (piano)

Review: Patrick Shepherd
Chamber Gallery, Rangiora.
15 November, 2017

Both these exceptional young pianists are making names for themselves performing in Europe and studying with some of the best teachers. Their combined CVs are formidable and both Tony Chen Lin and Jun Bouterey-Ishido are pursuing careers that already feature awards and acclaim that promise so much. That the pair show dazzling technical confidence and ability is a given for all the works they performed but what was really exciting was the conceptualisation of the programme and the deep thinking behind it.

Playing four hands at the piano (piano duets, if you like) is not something that one hears often although, having said that, in recent years there have been a number of concerts where this genre has been explored. It takes a certain kind of connectivity between the performers, a degree of anticipation and musical thought that has to be totally in step otherwise it becomes merely an interesting exercise. Chen and Bouterey-Ishido had this, seemingly thinking as one and working together very convincingly.

For me this concert was always going to be about Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, one ...continued

Continue reading...

Tony Chen Lin & Jun Bouterey-Ishido

Christopher’s Classics

Christopher’s Classics
Piano Four-hands

Tony Chen Lin & Jun Bouterey-Ishido
The Piano, Christchurch – 2 November 2017

Reviewed by Tony Ryan

The standing ovation at the end of this recital was affirmation of some very special music-making and certainly, for me, one of my top two highlights from an intensive year of concert, opera and recital-going. As it happens, my other musical high point from 2017 was also a concert in the Christopher’s Classics series; that one featuring Diedre Irons and string principals from the NZSO.

Each of these concerts included a major, if less well-known, work by Schubert. The Piano Quartet from Irons and co proved an exciting and captivating encounter because of a truly exceptional and virtuosic performance and, while Tony Chen Lin and Jun Bouterey-Ishido delivered similar excitement and virtuosity in other parts of their piano duet programme, their interpretation of Schubert’s Grand Duo Sonata was the one minor disappointment of the evening. It may not be one of Schubert’s finest pieces, but, played with less romantic indulgence than we heard last night, it can survive its more-than-forty-minute duration more effectively. Lovingly played as this sonata was, perhaps Schubert’s greatest piano duet masterpiece, ...continued

Continue reading...

Tony Lin Leaps to Dizzying New Heights

Tony C Lin Chch Mail review 21.10.2016

Christchurch Mail
Review: Patrick Shepherd
The Piano.
21st October, 2016

Slotting in this extra concert in his home town after a New Zealand-wide tour, Tony Lin gave a performance that was assured, thoughtful and full of musical interest. Unafraid to tackle meaty major works from memory (the only piece that wasn’t was, paradoxically, one of his own compositions), Lin approached his performance with a reverence and focus, projecting a Zen-like intense calm harking back to many of the great exponents of the instrument. When the sparks fly they did so with great power and weight but Lin’s gestures were never facile and one felt throughout that everything fed into a deep understanding of the music.

Bartok’s Piano Sonata opened the programme and in many ways laid out the palette for what was to come. Lin brought out the improvisatory nature of the Allegro moderato, a fine contrast to the rhythmic bite of the typically folk-inspired ideas that drove much of the rest of the piece. No mean feat but Lin managed to draw together the slightly schizophrenic threads into a coherent whole, which was also a feature of the Schubert’s massive Piano Sonata no.21 in B flat major concluding the ...continued

Continue reading...