Canadian-born violinist Shannon Lee makes her Telarc debut with Introducing Shannon Lee, a recital packed with gems by range of 19th and early 20th century composers, including Wieniawski, Kreisler, Ernst and Bazzini.
The violin literature is second only to the piano literature in its richness. However, this has never stopped violinists from delving into other repertoire. Recasting borrowed music in a different form is a tradition that goes back many centuries. Jascha Heifetz and Nathan Milstein both borrowed from the piano and voice literature, appropriating works that begged for the violin’s expressivity. Thanks to such transcriptions, we have numerous lyrical jewels for violin and piano, many of which are blockbuster encore numbers. Add some salon pieces by romantic masters, and the result is a wonderful potpourri of violin classics.
“There is a dearth of fantastic talent in young artists today,” says Telarc President Robert Woods, “so why does any one person stand out from another? To a great extent, it’s the preference of the listener – the person who discovers someone’s playing for the first time. When that happened for me with Shannon, I had the sense I was listening to a very old soul in a young person’s body. Shannon’s maturity was well beyond what I had heard from other young performers.”
Introducing Shannon Lee is a wonderful collection of pieces that include the well known and the rare. Wieniawski’s “Scherzo-Tarantelle” is the most demanding of his shorter pieces, with rapid finger-work that is extremely difficult. Debussy’s “Beau soir” (Heifetz’s transcription), on the other hand, showcases the more lyrical and melodic lines of the violin. Each of these works spotlights the versatility and musicianship of this young violinist and her ability to work well with accompanist Pamela Mia Paul.
Other selections include “Chaconne in G minor,” which has historically been attributed to Vitali, but was most likely not composed by Vitali himself. In Chopin’s “Nocturne in C-sharp minor” (Milstein’s transcription), Shannon shows her lyrical sensibility throughout the piece. Carol Engel’s song “Sea-Shell” (arranged by Efrem Zimbalist), meanwhile, is an excellent representation of a warm and full sound. Shannon’s performance with this piece was inspired by Michael Rabin’s classic rendition.
Several of the works Shannon has recorded belong to the late 19th century salon tradition. Elgar’s beloved “Salut d’amour” is a sentimental classic identified mostly with Menuhin. Kreisler’s “Tambourin Chinois” comes from the lighter salon category of the 20th century. The most weighty piece on the recording is Brahms’ “Sonatensatz,” composed as part of a collaborative sonata with Albert Dietrich and Robert Schumann.
Other highlights include the ever-energizing “Flight of the Bumble-Bee,” Ernst’s “Der Erlking,” Kreisler’s “Recitativo and Scherzo” and Scriabin’s “Etude in Thirds.” Bazzini’s astoundingly difficult “Dance of the Goblins” closes the program.
This recording is Shannon’s tribute to the great players who have made these selections integral to the violinist’s art. Collectively they constitute a pathway to the virtuoso literature and are rites of passage for every violinist.
In the summer of 2005, Shannon Lee made her stunning orchestral debut at age 12 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, performing the Chausson “Poeme” and Franz Wexman’s extremely challenging Carmen Fantasy. Later that same year, she was the featured soloist for the Dallas Symphony’s Texas Tour, performing the Barber Violin Concerto. In November 2006, she performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Charlotte Symphony under the baton of Christof Perick, who immediately invited her to open the next season with the Nuremberg Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany, where she made her European debut.
Shannon moved from Canada to Texas with her family when she was 2, and began studying the violin at age 4. Since 2000, she has studied privately with Jan Mark Sloman, principal associate concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony. At 11, she won her first national award, the top prize among bowed instruments in the junior division of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) Biennial National Solo Competition. Subsequent awards have included the Davidson Fellows Award, the Bayard H. Friedman Award for Outstanding Student in Performing Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts Young Master Scholarship, the Asian American Alliance for the Arts Outstanding Achievement Award, and several top prizes in the Kingsville Competition.
Pamela Mia Paul has performed with the world’s great orchestras. She has given concerts throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia, both as soloist and as chamber musician. In the studio, or in the setting of a master class, she is an internationally sought-after pedagogue whose students have participated in and won competitions including the Naumburg International Piano Competition.