A Taste of History

To date, this album stands as one of the only recorded compilations of these solo pieces.

May 31 saw the release of Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst’s Solo Violin Works by Chia-Chien Goh. 

This classical debut album by Dr. Goh provides listeners with not only a wondrous exhibit of his skills on the violin, but also provides listeners with a taste of history. In the span of 45 minutes, across seven tracks, he takes us through the solo works of renowned composer Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1812-1865). To date, this album stands as one of the only recorded compilations of these solo pieces. 

The album opens with “Etude I,” a 6-min long track that provides listeners with a sound that is airy and calm. “Etude 1” sets the scene well – allowing listeners to close their eyes and imagine it being Spring again. Without a doubt, focusing on this track you’d hardly realized that 6 minutes had passed.

The second track, “Etude II,” starts with a similar energy to “Etude I,” one that is calm. But as the track progresses, shifts in volume and tempo continue to grab your attention. Most akin to traversing hills, the decreasing shifts in intensity provides much needed relief in preparation for the next coming increases in intensity. This track is able to keep you awake, and a few seconds later steadily guides you back down to a level of calm experienced in the previous track. 

“Etude III” immediately starts off sounding completely different from the previous tracks. If “Etude I” and “Etude II” most closely represents the energy that comes from being out on a sunny Spring day, then “Etude III” would best fit the feeling that comes before taking a well-needed, peaceful nap. This track is much slower and drawn out compared to the other tracks thus far, which wonderfully shows the full depth of sounds available in this compilation by Dr. Goh. There are moments, mainly during the last quarter of this track, in which the energy rises, but all in all, this track serves as a well constructed bridge between the differing sounds found in this album.

Using a single word to describe “Etude IV,” it would be dreamlike. Listening to this track makes you feel as if you’re watching a scene play out, and although you’re able to watch the events taking place, you are merely spectating and cannot be seen nor heard. That is the feeling felt when listening to this track – one of being able to fly over a city and see and hear all going on around you. “Etude IV,” as so, serves as a great follow up to “Etude III,” a track that felt as if it were preparing you to rest.

“Etude V” follows suit by continuing to provide a sound that is a bit slower than the tracks found in the beginning of this album. Despite this, this track seems a bit more awake compared to the previous track. “Etude V” seems as if it represents the moment upon waking up from slumber — moments of grogginess, followed by recognition of the time of day, and the building of momentum in becoming fully awake. 

The penultimate track, “Etude VI (The Last Rose),” is 11 minutes long. Don’t take this as a warning, take it as something to marvel at  – Dr. Goh’s performance of this track is unreal. This final etude perfectly captures all of the feelings felt in the previous five tracks and brings them all together for one last show. Through all the ups and downs felt within each track, “Etude VI (The Last Rose),” manages to take you back through them all and get you ready for the final track.

“Der Erlkonig Grand Caprice”, the concluding track to this album, is a piece filled with suspense in the first few minutes. From the comfort of my own home, I suddenly felt as if I were in a play awaiting for the remaining members of the crew to come barging in and beckoning me to make my way on stage. By the halfway point, this feeling departs and is replaced with one that puts me in the crowd – being able to lay back and relax as the song makes its way to completion. By the end, the suspense is back but is quickly replaced with a slow finish that serves as a great place to close the curtains and provide a huge round of applause. 

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst’s Solo Violin Works by Chia-Chien Goh is a trip, and I mean that in the best way possible. It will energize you, calm you, and keep you on your toes – yes all of those things, sometimes even on a single track. Dr. Goh not only manages to provide a stellar showcase of his talents but also provides a look into the past with this compilation of the solo works of Ernst. As someone who hasn’t had much exposure to classical music prior to this review, this was a wonderful experience. To listen to Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst’s Solo Violin Works by Chia-Chien Goh, head on over to FREETHE Entertainment’s Bandcamp.

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