poetic imagination and drama
For me, though, Chen's drily witty performance of Alkan's Le festin d'Esope at another Dublin venue, the Hugh Lane Gallery (which house Francis Bacon's preserved studio), has stayed longer in the memory than anything else.
Michael Dervan, International Piano Magazine
A great talent, both as instrumentalist and musician... a virtuoso... and shows a wide spectrum of deep emotions and understanding for the musical structure.
Ralf Gothoni, pianist, composer and conductor
The grand gesture, whether of gorgeously full tone or daring velocity, seems to be at the heart of Chen’s approach to romantic repertoire. The eagerness with which he launched himself into the most daunting of challenges suggests a fiery temperament, and the necessary elements of technique are there to support it.
Michael Dervan, The Irish Times
Archie Chen joined the Spokane String Quartet in a splendid celebration of the 200th anniversaries of the births of Robert Schumann and Frederic Chopin. Chen combines a solo virtuoso's fluency and excitement with the sophistication and intelligence of an artist who thinks deeply about the music he plays. I was highly impressed by the six solos works by Chopin -- two sets of two Impromptus , the first set followed by the Third Ballade and the second by the Scherzo in B-flat minor. Chen made clear the subtle relationships among the Impromptus and between them and the larger Ballade and Scherzo at ended the two groups. Chen also showed himself to the a fine chamber music partner in Schumann's famous Piano Quintet. Chen and members of the quartet made the most of Schumann's long, lyric lines and his startling changes of mood.
Travis Rivers Senior Music Correspondent of the Spokesman-Review
Archie Chen has fulfilled the promise of his youthful talent with this beautiful Chopin disc. What distinguishes his performances at once is his complete understanding of the composer's contrapuntal writing, an approach which puts Chen on as high a level of musicianship as his fleet-fingered technic and myriad colors prove his commanding pianism. He is a "patrician" pianist, but not an aloof one -- he plays with the poetic imagination and drama that is necessary to truly represent Chopin's greatness.
The opening Impromptu, in A-flat major, is a joyful outpouring, Chen opting for a more relaxed tempo than some performers, with restrained rubato and a thoughtful middle section. The Ballade No. 3 is graceful and elegant, with tasteful rubato and an enjoyably lilting tempo, which calls to mind the chime of a carriage clock (perhaps on the mantelpiece at Nohant?). In the Scherzo, once again a more spacious tempo allows us to enjoy all the contrasting elements and drama of this work. Likewise in the Sonata, tempos are measured and well thought out, in particular in the final movement (marked Presto non Tanto, far too many pianists, in my opinion, take this movement at such a gallop many of the details of the music are lost). Clean and expressive playing throughout, coupled with considered tempos and spare use of rubato, make this a CD to enjoy over several listenings.
Frances Wilson, The Cross-Eyed Pianist