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Violinist Stella Chen speaks about playing Schubert’s Fantasie, ahead of the release of Stella x Schubert  with pianist Henry Kramer on Platoon.

’My love for Schubert blossomed unexpectedly during a performance analysis class with Robert Levin, a brilliant musician I knew as the phenom who completed Mozart’s Requiem for hisundergraduate thesis,’ says Chen in the album liner notes.

’Known as he is for his encyclopedic knowledge of Mozart, Levin surprised me when he revealed that his favourite piece was Schubert’s G major quartet, D. 887. He spoke about the music in a way that brought tears to my eyes, despite having never heard the piece myself. Thus began my deep and unwavering love affair with Schubert.

’For me, no composer conceives of more beautiful melodies than Schubert’s, in large part due to his extraordinary ability to translate vulnerability into music. Exposed, devastatingly fragile, almost otherworldly, his music teeters precariously on the brink of life and death. Rightfully wide-eyed but inevitably futile attempts to reproduce or quantify the magic of Schubert have preoccupied performers and scholars for the last two centuries. Having approached his music from both of those perspectives myself, I can only say: Schubert transports us to another world.’

The recipient of a 2020 Avery Fisher Career Grant and 2020 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, American violinist Stella Chen is the winner of the International Queen Elisabeth Grand Prize - Queen Mathilde Prize in the 2019 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition, as well as the first recipient of the Robert Levin Award from Harvard University, the top prize winner of the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition and youngest ever prize winner of the Menuhin Competition.

She plays the ‘Huggins’ 1708 Stradivari violin on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation, and the 1700 ex-Petri Stradivari violin, on generous loan from Dr. Ryuji Ueno and Rare Violins In Consortium, Artists and Benefactors Collaborative.

Photo courtesy Luke Rattray

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