Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Béla Bartók, Gabriel Faure, Robert Schumann




“What is remarkable about this recital...is not only the varied character of the music, but how effective they are in interpreting each piece. From the earnest early romanticism of the Schumann to the breezy lyricism of the Fauré to the knotty, mysterious modernism of the Bartok, they don’t make a wrong step anywhere. I am especially impressed by the Schumann, as the most effective tempos elude almost everyone else… If you want all three of these pieces on one disc, though, this is definitely the one to get.”
Magil, American Record Guide [July/August 2015]
“[The] program opens with Fauré’s First Sonata, with Chen incorporating rhythmic nuances into the opening of the sonata’s first movement; so does Shi upon her entry… the two individually play convincingly and with glowing tone… they exercise masterly control over dynamics throughout the movement. They’re timbrally insinuating at the outset of the second movement, with Shi’s Pressenda awakening almost gustatory sensations. And their soaring climaxes in that movement raise goose bumps... the beauty of Shi’s tone and its purity in the upper registers provide select pleasures in themselves; Chen serves as a most sympathetic partner throughout the sonata... If possible, the duo sounds even more commanding in the opening movement of Schumann’s First Violin Sonata… Szigeti and Bartók didn’t enjoy the advantage of the voluptuous recorded sound that Ryan Streber provided for Shi and Chen. And the duo makes the kind of rhetorical flourish that I’ve seen Isaac Stern bring to works on the stage—yet the Jade Duo doesn’t need to enhance those flourishes with that kind of visual element... Urgently recommended.”
Robert Maxham, Fanfare [July/August 2015]
“This is [the Jade Duo's] debut album, and I have to admit that it blew me away. Initially, I was somewhat dubious of a program containing three such seemingly unrelated and incompatible works, but it only took a few seconds of hearing the inexpressibly beautiful sounds these two players make for me to cast aside any and all reservations. Resistance was futile... If proof be needed that Shuai Shi possesses the forged-in-steel technique to overcome every difficulty Bartók throws at her, that proof is here in this recording. But her even more extraordinary accomplishment, in concert with her equally brilliant pianist Zhen Chen, is to transform this “ugly duckling” of a sonata, if not quite into a graceful swan (which may be beyond anyone’s ability), then at least into a well-prepared goose with all the trimmings; and that, in itself, is miracle enough. Definitely one of the best violin recitals and debut albums to come my way, and recorded in stunning sound at Octaven Audio’s studios in Yonkers, New York, in 2014. Urgently recommended.”
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare [July/August 2015]
[ * * * * ] “It shouldn’t work at all, coupling these composers together, but the results are amazing... by some miracle the Jade Duo’s brilliance in coming to terms with the notion of this conglomeration was inspired from on high if anything ever was... The Jade Duo, China-originated and only three years on the scene, appear here for the first time on record, and I was little prepared for the bold and almost throwback nature of these readings. They don’t shirk on big-band presentation, and are not afraid of wearing each composer quite heart-on-sleeve... MSR has given them a fine beginning, and I certainly hope they plan on following up this wonderfully-recorded studio disc.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [May 2015]
"We all tend to expect sensational technique from Chinese soloists...but quietly the rising Chinese musicians are becoming well versed in style, too. That’s clearly evident in the lovely, idiomatic readings of three violin sonatas from the Jade Duo. Given how different Fauré, Schumann, and Bartók are, I’m impressed by the stylistic range of violinist Shuai Shi and pianist Zhen Chen… Together and individually they play with complete assurance... As a calling card for their superior level of musicianship, this CD does very well by two musicians highly esteemed in China.”
Huntley Dent, Fanfare [July/August 2015]
“This is the debut recording of the Jade Duo and from the evidence here I would say it bodes well for the two young performers... In performance the one outstanding trait of this duo is their ability to adapt with seeming ease to the style required to play the various repertory here: they capture the elegant yet passionate Romanticism of Faurè, the mood swings of Schumann from the playful and sweet to the stormy and angst-ridden, and the exotic but often percussive folk-inspired character of Bartok... The sound reproduction is very good... The album notes are informative. Overall, this is a fine debut disc for this young duo and augurs well for their continued success on the international stage. Recommended.”
Robert Cummings, ClassicalNet [April 2015]
“Fauré, Schumann and Bartók understood how to move beyond the piano – which they all played – just as Hummel did; but the three did so in very different ways, as a new MSR Classics disc featuring the Jade Duo makes clear. The first of Schumann’s two violin-and-piano sonatas...gets a strong, vibrant performance from Shuai Shi and Zhen Chen. [Fauré’s violin sonata] comes across in this performance as unified and carefully structured... The Jade Duo’s ability to present three such disparate works convincingly bespeaks the performers’ considerable sensitivity to the composers’ varying musical styles and approaches.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [March 2015]
“Fauré’s First Violin Sonata... has been a favorite of violinists since at least 1927, when Jacques Thibaud recorded it with Alfred Cortot…. There are much more recent versions than those as well, by Joshua Bell with Jean-Yves Thibaudet… But for sheer beauty of tone, fluent and fluid playing, and emotional refinement, Shi and Chen strike the perfect balance."
Fanfare Magazine [March 2015]
“The debut album of the Jade Duo is noteworthy... an auspicious recording debut for these young Chinese artists... With luck, we should be hearing of them for years to come.”
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Society [January 2015]
Sonatas for Violin and Piano

This recording brings together three sonatas for violin and piano that may seem to share little in common. What we discover, though, are certain intersections between the music and composers, which the Jade Duo has highlighted in their selection. The most obvious connection between Robert Schumann, Gabriel Fauré and Béla Bartók is their instrument—the piano. Though substantially different in style, their works are expertly written, with an intimate knowledge of the instrument’s versatility. Furthermore, each of these composers worked closely with violinists who played a role in shaping the violin writing, making the sonatas idiomatic examples for both instruments within their respective styles.

Since its establishment in New York City in 2012, the JADE DUO has been dedicated to interpreting piano and violin sonata repertoire with the highest artistic standard. The Jade Duo won first prize in the 2013 Artur Balsam Competition for Duos in New York and the second prize of the 2013 J.C. Arriaga Chamber Music Competition in Stamford, Connecticut.

Violinist Shuai Shi is recognized as one of the most remarkable young violinists in China, and has appeared in such notable venues as the Victoria Theatre and Concert hall of Singapore, Athens Concert hall of Romania, National Art Center of Canada and in China at the National Center for the Performing Arts and Shanghai Concert hall. The recipient of numerous awards, Shuai received top prizes in the Jeunesses Musicales International Violin Competition, Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition, and several other notable concerto competitions, including the Abington Concerto Competition in Great Britain and Eisenberg-Fried Competition in the united States. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree with a full scholarship from the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2011. While in London, she won the
Music education Award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund and her Royal highness Princess Alice’s Prize. At the Manhattan School of Music, she has pursued graduate and post-graduate study with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec. In 2014, Shuai joined the faculty of Zhejiang Conservatory of Music in China.

Pianist Zhen Chen has performed on important concert stages throughout the united States and China, including the Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital hall at Carnegie hall, Avery Fisher hall at Lincoln Center and the National Center for Performing Arts as a solo pianist and chamber musician. Zhen won the first prize of the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, New York in 2009 as well as the second prize at the hong Kong-Asia Piano Open Competition in 2007. In 2012, he was invited to the Castleman Quartet Program at the College of Music at the university of Colorado in Boulder and presented violin and piano duo recitals with Charles Castleman of eastman School of Music. he is the recipient of the helen Cohen Award for outstanding pianist in chamber music. Zhen received a Bachelor’s Degree in piano performance from the Central Conservatory of Music in China and a Master’s Degree in piano performance under Dr. Arkady Aronov at the Manhattan School of Music. As a full scholarship recipient, he also earned a master’s degree in instrumental  accompanying and chamber music at the Manhattan School with Dr. Heasook Rhee.

[ www.JadeDuo.com ]

GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845-1924)
I. Allegro molto
II. Andante
III. Allegro vivo
IV. Allegro quasi presto

I. Mit leidenshaftlichem Ausdruck
II. Allegretto
III. Lebhaft

BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945)
I. Molto moderato
II. Allegretto

MSR Classics