Violin wunderkind Christian Li will release a new album, Discovering Mendelssohn on July 7. Recorded on the Decca Classics label, the first single On Wings of Song from 6 Songs op. 34 is available now. It features players from Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in a new arrangement of the piece for violin and chamber ensemble which includes the harp.
The Australian-Chinese violinist, now aged 15, topped the UK & Australian Classical Charts with his debut album in 2021, becoming the youngest artist to record Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. On Discovering Mendelssohn, Christian Li follows the journeys of Felix Mendelssohn, whose music was influenced by travel throughout his life, recording music written in Leipzig, Düsseldorf, Munich, London and Venice, in some brand new arrangements written especially for Li.
At the heart of the album is Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, recorded with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis. The disc also features the effervescent Rondo Capriccioso op. 14, in a new arrangement for violin and piano. From the Songs Without Words Op.62, Li selects two pieces, both presented in new arrangements. In the Venetian Gondola Song (written 1830-1841) Mendelssohn recreates the gentle rocking of the gondolas. While the original pieces were written for solo piano, Li’s recording features a duet for violin and guitar, played by guitarist Xuefei Yang. The second piece from the collection is Spring Song, which was written during Mendelssohn’s stay in London in 1842.
The album also features music from Mendelssohn’s own inspirations and contemporaries, including J. S. Bach, Mozart and Schubert with Mozart’s Violin Sonata No 21 in E Minor, Schubert’s Serenade and the aria Erbarme dich by JS Bach.
Born in Melbourne in 2007, Christian began plating the violin aged five. In 2018 he became the youngest winner of the Menuhin Competition, obtaining the joint Junior 1st Prize playing and conducting a movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Performing with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, he also received the Audience Prize and the Composer Award. In 2020, Christian became the youngest artist to sign with Decca Classics. His debut album featuring Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with works for violin and piano by Bazzini, Kreisler, Massenet and Li Zilli was released in August 2021 gathering five-star reviews.
In concerts, Christian has debuted with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. He has given recitals in Israel, Norway and the UK. Currently he is a Young Artist in Association with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for three years during which he will perform a range of concertos, chamber music and recitals. He will also makes several orchestral debuts including with Auckland Philharmonia, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Gavle Symphony in Sweden, the Aalborg Symphony in Denmark and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in the UK.
Christian performs on the 1737 ex-Paulsen Guarneri del Gesù violin, on loan from a generous benefactor and uses a bow by François Peccatte. He currently studies with Dr. Robin Wilson at the Yehudi Menuhin School in London and enjoys reading, swimming and bike riding in his free time.