I was very impressed by his playing
and the pieces he chose were perfect.
Very seldom I have heard
such a Russian Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.
He is one of the greatest virtuosic violinists of our time.
I said to myself, "How can Xiang Chen play so effortless
on such impossible things"
Xiang Chen (b. 23 December 1970 in Xinjiang, China's most northwestern province) grew up in a musical family; his father was a violinist and managed the orchestra associated with the Xinjiang Song and Dance Troup. Xiang's extraordinary gift in music was cultivated by his father, who taught him to play the violin at the age of four. Xiang made rapid progress in grasping the basic techniques and could play extremely difficult compositions by ear.
In 1979, three years after China's Cultural Revolution, Sir Yehudi Menuhin made his first concert tour in China. He was so impressed by Xiang's talent that soon afterwards he made it possible for Xiang to study in England.
Independence characterizes Xiang. He enjoys finding more efficient ways of playing by following his own path. In 1980, at the age of ten, he made a two-hour long recording featuring three caprices by Nicolo Paganini, one solo sonata by Bach, a sonata by Handel, a concerto by Beethoven under the baton of his father conducting a local orchestra in Xinjiang, all in one take for China's TV program.
In 1985, Xiang Chen immigrated to Australia with his family and continued his violin study in Melbourne. In 1986, Xiang traveled to Europe and took private lessons from several great violin teachers such as Igor Ozim, Ruggero Ricci and Vladimir Spivakov. Xiang developed into a unique violinist of his own style. He won several international competitions, but considers competitions as not much more than a contest to show off technique and to please the jury, rather than encouraging young musicians to develop their own musical culture and style.
While Xiang has a solid violin technique that dazzles his counterparts and amazes his audience, what makes Xiang so impressive is his musicality born out of a rare talent as well as from rich and diverse life experiences.