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Founder of Taipei’s International Music Festival, Cho-Liang Lin was the first Taiwanese violinist to attain significant international renown. His enterprising spirit was evident early on when he made his own way to Australia at the age of twelve in order to find a suitable violin teacher. At fifteen he gained a place at The Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay, who trained many other Oriental students and whose influence is apparent in his playing, and made his public début with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 at nineteen. His solo career has taken him around the globe, performing concertos with many major orchestras and conductors. His development of the SummerFest at La Jolla, California, has been particularly significant, as he has transformed it from a chamber music festival to one that celebrates various disciplines including jazz and contemporary music.

Lin’s playing in many ways epitomises the extraordinary surge in prominent string-players from the Far East during the post-war decades. Often the approach of such artists is seen as derivative (or at least commensurate with contemporary Western mainstream style) and so it is with Lin whose well-nourished tone, rich vibrato, firm articulation and well-projected bowing are all common traits, especially of American-trained players. This leads to uncontroversial performances of the Bruch Concerto in G minor (1987) and Vivaldi concertos from Op. 8 (2005), where the strongly-delivered violin playing is everything one might expect of a virtuoso of the highest standards today. Lin’s discography does have its ‘unique selling points’ however, both in lesser-known Western repertoire and in East-West crossover music. In the rich yet stylistically disparate Violin Sonata of Austrian conductor-composer Georg Tintner (recorded 2005), Lin delivers suggestions of high Romanticism alongside more experimental atonal writing with confidence. He performs with equal aplomb and absolute conviction two compelling works of Far Eastern origin: Chin’s Formosa Seasons (written for Lin, recorded 2006) with strong, modernist lines and subtle evocations of Taiwanese culture in an otherwise Western-style work; and Chen Yi’s Folk Dance Suite (2002) which displays well from the start Lin’s clean sound and authoritative virtuosity.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)

Role: Classical Artist 
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