EUGENE YSAYE: 6 SONATASfor Solo Violin, Op.27
KEJIA HE, violin
"Kejia He tackles these six sonatas with remarkable resolve. What’s striking in M. He’s technique is his resolute diction, impeccable texture, clean lines and methodical approach. However, a deeper enrichment can be found when listening to headsets in order to capture the full spectrum of arresting details and also finding the subtle complexities that are buried deep inside the music... One can sense a firm chemistry between composer and performer, and for Kejia He, it’s a stunning entrée of greater things to come. Strongly recommended."
Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet [January 2022]
"If this were the 10th album from a seasoned veteran of the concert stage, I would still be amazed. That it’s He’s first album, I’m gobsmacked. This belongs on the shelf of anyone who plays violin, aspires to, or is thrilled by listening to the instrument played in a way that seems almost impossible to believe. I promise you, it’s not too good to be true. Urgently recommended."
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare [January/February 2022]
"I like [Kejia He's] Ysaye very much... when it comes to a place like the harrowing left-hand pizzicato run in the `Danse Rustique’ of Sonata 5, he can pull it off flawlessly... If you like your Ysaye muscular and indomitable, [Jejia] He is among the best out there."
Thomson, American Record Guide [November/December 2021]
"it was a wonderful surprise for me to encounter Kejia He’s [performances] of Eugene Ysaye’s 6 Sonatas... Kejia demonstrates his own virtuoso ability to play the violin while assuming Ysaye’s role to personally pay homage to great violinists of the past... If Ysaye were alive today, he might eventually be inspired to create a seventh sonata to pay homage to Kejia, whose recognition in the music world is fast unfolding. Listening to this CD, Kejia’s debut recording, you may readily appreciate his talented, skillful command of the violin."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [August 2021]
"The performances are very fine on a new MSR Classics release featuring the [violin sonatas] by Eugène Ysaÿe. These works are a challenge for any violinist... the sonatas need to work on a purely musical basis for audiences that can scarcely be expected to be familiar with the particular abilities and focuses of the original dedicatees. Kejia He knows this, giving very effective performances precisely because he does not treat the sonatas as period pieces or ones focused on individuals’ technical abilities, but as musical offerings that transcend their time and the reasons for their creation... these sonatas are specialty items, endlessly intriguing to violinists... Those who do consider [these sonatas] a pleasurable listening experience will find Kejia He’s sensitive virtuosity very appealing."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [July 2021]
"[Kejia He] has remarkable sound and musical expression. And accurate yet fluent technique of left and right hands."
Lina Yu, Violin professor at Shanghai Conservatory of Music
PROGRAM NOTESBelgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe (1858–1931) was born into a musical family and began learning the violin at age five under the tutelage of his father. Although Eugène wasn’t considered a prodigy, he was revered by many as “The King of the Violin” during his time, and was close acquaintances with many notable and influential musicians, such as Joseph Joachim, Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann and Anton Rubinstein. During his time, Ysaÿe developed close relationships with other prominent composers as well, including Ernest Chausson, Gabriel Fauré and César Franck, all of whom dedicated works to Ysaÿe. Upon hearing virtuosic and expressive performances of J.S. Bach’s solo violin works by renowned Hungarian violinist and pedagogue Joseph Szigeti, Ysaÿe was inspired to compose his own set of solo sonatas for the violin. Showcasing the full potential of the violin, each of his six sonatas is dedicated to a distinguished violinist in the form of a stylized musical portrait.
Violinist Kejia He has been widely praised by audiences for his precise technique and elegant musical taste. He showed musical talent at an early age and began learning the violin at age five. Growing up in Du Jiang Yan, Kejia’s musical style was deeply influenced by the natural mountainous beauty that surrounds his home town. Kejia continued his studies at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music’s middle school, where at age 17 he ascended to the final round of the 8th National Youth Violin Competition and won the Great Performance prize. In 2007, Kejia began studies with Yaoji Lin, the most famous violin professor in China, at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. After Professor Lin’s passing in 2009, he continued with Professor Liang Chai, and went on to graduate in 2011 with a First Place award in violin performance. In the same year, with full scholarships and a Starling scholarship and others, Kejia came to the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati and began studies with professor Kurt Sassmannshaus. During his study, he performed numerous times in Starling Showcase Concerts as a soloist. In 2015, as the concertmaster of College-Conservatory of Music Concert Orchestra and Teaching Assistant of Sassmannshaus, he won First Prize in the Concerto Competition there, performing the Wieniawski Violin Concerto No.2 and Sibelius’ Violin Concerto to high acclaim from audience and CCM faculty members alike. In the same year, Kejia took part in founding the Cincinnatus String quartet, playing first violin. The new quartet received tutelage from the Ariel String Quartet and Ying String Quartet, and after numerous performances in local venues and music festivals, they participated in the 2016 Schoenfeld International String Competition and won the Award of Excellence prize. He returned to China in 2017, and subsequently won Third Prize in the 2019 Jeunesses International Music Competition in Romania. Currently, Kejia He is on the violin faculty of the Shenyang Conservatory of Music. This is his debut recording.
PROGRAMEUGÈNE YSAŸE (1858–1931)
VIOLIN SONATA NO.1 IN G MINOR (à Joseph Szigeti)
I. Grave (Lento assai)
II. Fugato (Molto moderato)
III. Allegretto poco scherzoso (Amabile)
IV. Finale con brio (Allegro fermo)
VIOLIN SONATA NO.2 IN A MINOR (à Jacques Thibaud)
I. Prelude – Obsession (Poco vivace)
II. Malinconia (Poco lento)
III. Danse des ombres (Sarabande; lento)
IV. Les furies (Allegro furioso)
VIOLIN SONATA NO.3 IN D MINOR, “BALLADE” (à Georges Enescu)
I. Ballade (Lento molto sostenuto)
II. Allegro in tempo giusto e con bravura
VIOLIN SONATA NO.4 IN E MINOR (à Fritz Kreisler)
I. Allemanda (Lento maestoso)
II. Sarabande (Quasi lento)
III. Finale (Presto ma non troppo)
VIOLIN SONATA NO.5 IN G Major (à Mathieu Crickboom)
I. L’Aurore (Lento assai)
II. Danse rustique (Allegro giocoso molto moderato)
VIOLIN SONATA NO.6 IN E Major (à Manuel Quiroga)
Allegro giusto ma non troppo vivo