Sarasota Orchestra presents tour de force under guest conductor Chen

"The deeply-resonant opening chords [of Rimski-Korsakov's Scheherazade] contrasting the near transparent pianissimo wind chords that followed stand as a simple testament to the extreme capabilities of these musicians. What seemed simple at first carried through the musical and technical demands of the entire work. The string tone, magnificent in the lush romantic melodies, was coupled with excellent solo turns by all the winds and brass. By the conclusion we were spent by Chen’s exhilarating tempos of the tour de force performance."

Gayle Williams, Herald Tribune (Sarasota, FL)
Review of Delights and Dances

"This album contains three twentieth century works for string quartet and orchestra in the baroque concerto grosso tradition: where a smaller ensemble (here the string quartet) is contrasted with a larger ensemble – the orchestra. ...Delights and Dances lives up to its title.... ...Benjamin Lees (1924-2010) Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra (1964) is a more serious and modern work. ...This is an exhilarating and significant American concerto, and the Harlem Quartet and Chicago Sinfonietta play it for all it’s worth. Chinese composer An-Lun Huang’s Sabei Dance is a crowd-pleasing four-minute work whose oriental lyricism clears the palate and prepares the listener for conductor, composer and arranger Randall Craig Fleischer’s West Side Story Concerto. ...the performance and recording of Fleischer’s arrangement is superb....  ... the whole album is easy to enjoy."


John Sunier/Robert Moon, Audiophile Audition
Mei-Ann Chen makes an auspicious CSO debut

"But like the Sultan’s wife who heads off her own death by telling her husband wondrous tales for 1,001 nights, Chen worked some enchantment of her own on the CSO Thursday night. Often performed as a mixture of overly perfumed lyricism and ersatz exoticism, Sheherazade became something much more powerful and intimate. Setting a deliberate rather than rhapsodic pace throughout the work, drawing pristine yet expressive phrasing from the orchestra, Chen transformed the story.
Without losing any of her mysterious aura, Sheherazade became a cool-headed beauty, a worthy adversary to the mighty sultan. Passions ran high in the stories she told. But this self-possessed young woman was smart enough to keep a tight rein on her own passions, which made her all but irresistible. ...Chen’s blending of orchestral forces was equally deft in Mendelssohn’s overture, which runs from sunny evocations of a dappled, free-flowing river to darker eruptions."

Wynne Delacoma,
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