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Bill
The WSCL Blog, November 2010

The musicians chose this program (light favorites by Massenet, Kreisler, Schubert, Handel, Mozart, Bizet, Grieg, Satie, etc.) as “a soundtrack for a daydream, or a twilight accompaniment for a romantic dinner.” On a nicely recorded and sequenced Superaudio CD.



Steve Marsh
Classical Guitar Magazine, November 2010

If ever a performer had that indefinable quality we tend to call ‘charisma’, Chinese violinist Chen Yi oozes it throughout this programme of some of the most beautiful melodies ever written down. This is not to demean the very accomplished accompaniment of Lars Hannibal in any way, but the arrangements put Yi firmly at the foreground for the majority of this recital and it is her performance one remembers long after the disc has finished.

The selection of music is well made with no low points in evidence. The style of much of this material is such that in lesser hands performances could be dripping with sentimentality and make the whole project distasteful; these two musicians are far and away above any of that nonsense. The arrangements are skillfully and sensitively done, so much so that one is hardly conscious of the fact that these are arrangements (with the exception of the Paganini), which is how it should be.

The recording quality is one of the best I have heard of this combination of instruments. The balance is excellent between Yi and Hannibal and I don’t doubt that producer Preben Iwan had something to do with it so he gets a mention here. The packaging too is no less impressive: attractive front cover and informative booklet with colour photographs. This is a first-rate release and for lovers of superior musicianship and good tunes this is a must.

Recommended.



Steve Marsh
Classical Guitar Magazine, November 2010

If ever a performer had that indefinable quality we tend to call ‘charisma’, Chinese violinist Chen Yi oozes it throughout this programme of some of the most beautiful melodies ever written down. This is not to demean the very accomplished accompaniment of Lars Hannibal in any way, but the arrangements put Yi firmly at the foreground for the majority of this recital and it is her performance one remembers long after the disc has finished.

The selection of music is well made with no low points in evidence. The style of much of this material is such that in lesser hands performances could be dripping with sentimentality and make the whole project distasteful; these two musicians are far and away above any of that nonsense. The arrangements are skillfully and sensitively done, so much so that one is hardly conscious of the fact that these are arrangements (with the exception of the Paganini), which is how it should be.

The recording quality is one of the best I have heard of this combination of instruments. The balance is excellent between Yi and Hannibal and I don’t doubt that producer Preben Iwan had something to do with it so he gets a mention here. The packaging too is no less impressive: attractive front cover and informative booklet with colour photographs. This is a first-rate release and for lovers of superior musicianship and good tunes this is a must.

Recommended.




Pizzicato, September 2010

Sweet classic hits by Massenet "Meditation", Kreislers "Liebestod", Händels "Largo", Schuberts "Ave Maria" to "Gymnopedié" by Eric Satie., arranged for violin and guitar, and played with grace and great technically precision by Chen Yi, whose seductive violin sound is supported by Lars Hannibals empatic guitar sound.



Robert Maxham
Fanfare, July 2010

Guitarist Lars Hannibal adapted all the pieces in this program with violinist Tina Chen Yi for violin and guitar—with the exception of Paganini’s Cantabile, originally conceived for that combination of instruments. But whatever the performing medium, the program continuously pours out melodies, each of which has become familiar to aficionados of the violin’s salon repertoire. The program’s having been recorded in Karlebo Church in Denmark may explain its reverberant atmosphere (possibly not entirely natural)—I listened in the CD format. But no amount of extra reverberation, real or artificial, could create the warmth of Chen’s soaring sound on the E string in Massenet’s popular Méditation (she plays a Chinese violin made by Shen Fei in 2004, which sounds suave in all registers, particularly in the highest and lowest ones).

Kreisler’s Liebesleid sounds almost too richly characterized by the atmosphere the recorded sound has created (so does Schön Rosmarin, perhaps to an even more pronounced degree), but in the popular Largo from Xerxes, Hannibal’s bewitching accompaniment provides a foil to Chen’s understated, subtle performance. In Schubert’s Ave Maria, a chestnut made popular for the violin in a ubiquitous arrangement by August Wilhelmj and Jascha Heifetz, Chen doesn’t take the second statement in octaves, repeating it instead on the G string; the recorded sound makes the performance sound almost as though it had been given underwater, especially at the beginning. The same holds true, at least of the recorded sound, in Mozart’s similarly religious Ave verum corpus. By the time the program has reached Paradies’ Sicilienne, the similarities of the pieces’ tempos will most likely have begun to take its toll on many listeners. The opening tutti of the Andante from Lalo’s celebrated Symphonie espagnole demonstrates just how vibrantly Hannibal re-creates accompaniments written for other instruments or even ensembles. Here, in a part exceptionally well written for the violin, Chen makes a stunning effect together with her accompanist, playing with all the fiery Spanish flavor the work itself suggests and at the same time projecting the big personality of a concerto soloist even in the intimate surroundings she and Hannibal have chosen. Coming immediately after this reading, Chen’s playing of Bizet’s Entr’acte seems more restrained by the bounds of its slower tempo and cooler temperature. Handel’s Larghetto, however, taps a richer interpretive vein—as may, for many listeners, Grieg’s haunting Cattle Call. Gluck’s Dance has become a violinistic chestnut in Fritz Kreisler’s arrangement, and it’s effective in Hannibal’s as well, providing Chen many opportunities for heartfelt expressivity. Much of the interest in the duo’s reading of Grieg’s Lullaby arises from Hannibal’s sensitively wrought accompaniment (seemingly both in conception and performance). Chen and Hannibal, once again, step more confidently to the fore in Paganini’s Cantabile, in which they raise Paganini’s soaring melody to an Italianate bel canto life, replete with violinistic touches that keep it consistently fresh despite its familiarity. The concluding Gymnopédies, creating a static though somewhat hypnotic emotional ambiance, reverts in these performances to the more reverberant, lower-voltage playing that characterizes so much of the program.

Chen indulges an occasional portamento, but the effect of her musicianship doesn’t depend on such devices. Nevertheless, it’s hard to listen to such a long program of similar pieces without noting that earlier violinists (the same I so often mention—Heifetz, Milstein, Stern, Francescatti, Oistrakh, Kreisler, Szigeti, and so on) would likely have given it a more striking profile overall while differentiating the pieces more distinctly. It’s in programs like these that they’re most sorely missed; Chen, despite her clean and expressive musicianship, doesn’t dispel the sense of nostalgia. Recommended primarily to those in search of this kind of playing in this kind of program.




Kenneth Keaton
American Record Guide, July 2010

In the past, a release like this might be presented as encores, but maybe just calling it Melodies does the trick. Let’s see, what do we have? Handel’s ‘Largo’ from Xerxes, Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’, the ‘Meditation’ from Thais, the ‘Entracte’ from Carmen, some Kreisler, some Grieg Lyric Pieces, Satie’s ‘Gymnopedies’—17 in all.

I might be tempted to brush this off as a high-calorie bon-bon collection, but I have to say I was captivated. The sound is a bit too reverberant, but the playing is just so loving and luscious!

This music is easy to love, and Yi and Hannibal give it the royal treatment. Everything is perfect, nothing overdone or tasteless. The arrangements, all by Hannibal, are uniformly effective.

I am unfamiliar with Ms Yi, but I hope to hear more of this gifted player in the future. I had encountered Danish guitarist Hannibal before in his work with violinist Kim Sjorgen. Indeed, their release Journey (May/June 2008) was one of my top picks for that year.

There’s nothing particularly challenging here, just glorious melodies beautifully performed. And that’s more than enough for me.






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7:34:56 PM, 29 July 2014
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