Award-winning recording artist Ray Chen, dubbed “the ray of sunshine in the violin world” (The Times), announces his new studio album fully professionally recorded and released from home during the global lockdown. Entitled ‘Solace’, Ray shares works from J. S. Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, released digitally on 7th August on Decca Classics.
The events of 2020 which brought the world to a standstill have also created a time for self-reflection, and a renewed appreciation of the power of music. Ray explains, “Music heals the soul, it calms us, centres us, and creates focus in our lives. Bach’s music, in particular, written so far ahead of its time, reminds us of an important message: that humanity struggles onwards despite the odds.”
To achieve ‘Solace’, Ray built a professional studio from scratch in his very own home. He sourced the best recording equipment possible and remotely enlisted the help of record producer Jonathan Allen to handle the logistics of installing and setting up his ‘studio’ to perfection.
The violinist has selected six of Bach’s movements to represent the personal and powerful feelings he has experienced during this year. Opening with Preludio from Bach’s E Major Partita No. 3, Ray sets out a familiar sense of joy and connection. The Fugue from Bach’s G Minor Sonata No. 1 follows, meandering and searching for truth through a filter of anxious worry.
The Sarabande from his D minor Partita greets our senses with darkness and vulnerability, faced with the feeling of loneliness. This evolves into the frustration of trying to find the end of the thread which is expressed through Ray’s surrendering of Bach’s A minor Sonata No. 2 titled simply: Allegro. The album concludes with two of the most delicate Bach movements, Largo from his C Major Sonata No. 3 to evocate the feeling of hopefulness and Gavotte en Rondeau.
Whether it be through a virtual competition or performance video, Ray’s fan engagement across his social channels has seen an unprecedented increase thanks to his innovative approach. Ray will expand his relationship with fans around the album and he is incredibly excited to share his music with them. In addition to the album, Ray is also sharing a new documentary which illustrates the process of creation of the project.
On choosing to record these particular works, Ray reflected on the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his music-making: “My mentor Christoph Eschenbach once told me, ‘music when it repeats itself, cannot be played the same because by then you are already a few seconds older and wiser.’ Certain events have the power to change the way we look at the world forever. Music has that same power.”