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Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, July 2012

This CD presents the music of Karol Jósef Lipiński…the op. 27 set combines dazzling technique with “the depth of Spohr, Tartini, and Viotti’s musical philosophies” to create richer, more meaningful music. Yet even in the earlier set of capriccios, the music is quite rich in invention and ingenious devices, particularly the way he starts No. 3 with an introductory Adagio before moving into an Allegro con fuoco.

Chen Xi has an absolutely dazzling technique but, more importantly, also has a beautiful tone and superb musical style. Even in the earlier set, his playing of Capriccio No. 2 in F♯-Minor is sensitively phrased and shaded, not merely display for display’s sake. Thus, his music is more consistently interesting in development and thematic relationships.

The op. 27 Caprices are…written with different sections in contrasting tempos. There is considerable interest in this music, as the technical marvels soon become an integral part of the evolving musical thread. Later in this piece, you hear a lot of themes…that remind me a great deal of some of Fritz Kreisler’s music. Likewise, the Caprice in G♯-Minor leads into an Allegro section of considerable involvement, not only multiple themes but interesting development using the technique of the instrument as part of the music. This kind of musical brinksmanship is the hallmark of a fine composer, and Lipiński certainly qualifies in that respect. This kind of brinksmanship continues throughout the op. 27 Caprices, making of them truly creative and interesting music. These are, then, highly creative pieces for unaccompanied violin…

As mentioned, Xi is an outstanding violinist but, more importantly, he brings attention to the music, not to himself as a technical wizard. This is the hallmark of the true servant of music, to focus the attention on the score and not the messenger of the score. Very highly recommended, to lovers of violin music or lovers of music in general. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Joseph Magil
American Record Guide, July 2012

The Three Caprices Op. 10 are full of octaves and other double stops. The Three Caprices Op. 27 are more interesting musically and are more complex formally.

Chen Xi does a good job playing these works…Good sound. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2012

Entombed in music’s reference books, Karol Józef Lipińsky was one of the great touring violin virtuosos of the early 19th century and a rival to Paganini. Polish by birth in 1790, he was, after the partition of Poland, to move with his parents to the part annexed to Austria, his later life becoming almost nomadic. It was a very stop-start existence as he tried to rival the many famous violinists of his time, punctuated by periods leading orchestras, and times when he closed himself away to refine his technique. As a composer he was aware that much around him was written purely for show, and he tried to bring more intrinsic musical values to his pieces. His two sets of three pieces, with the title Capriccios, are all of substantial length, and if musical values were important to him, he certainly throws a whole catalogue of challenges to the performer. Not least are the pages of double-stopping that call for an exactitude of intonation particularly when they flash around the instrument. When compared with Paganini’s works, the missing ingredients are those catchy melodies which the Italian maestro could readily produce. Still they offer Chen Xi—the youngest ever winner of a major prize in Moscow’s International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition—scope to exhibit his prodigious technique. He also has the immediate benefit of a very special Guarnerius del Gesu violin of 1725, which sings eloquently for him, and has bell-like harmonics. Investing considerable in warming vibrato he resists the temptation of hacking into chords, the mercurial passages—there are not that many—are dispatched with a very dexterous left hand. The sound quality is fine. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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