Wen-Lei Gu
Wen-Lei Gu performing the Elgar Violin Concerto with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra


Symphony Concert a Dazzling Display of Talents

April 6, 2009

By James Chaudoir
For the Post-Crescent

The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Brian Groner played its fourth subscription concert Saturday night to a full house at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Though curious in its program, there was something to please all in attendance.

Violinist Wen-Lei Gu was featured soloist in Niccolo Pagannini's First Violin Concerto. Pagannini, the virtuoso's virtuoso of violin writing, fully demonstrated his knowledge of the instrument's capabilities in this demanding concerto, creating a challenge that was equally met by Gu. From start to finish, Gu displayed her technical mastery of the violin. Her tone is rich and powerful, carrying to the heights of the auditorium. Add to that impeccable intonation and dazzling skills with the bow, and it is easy to understand how she can master this concerto with apparent ease.

Pagannini gives all the attention to the soloist in his concerti allowing little time for the soloist to rest and gather thoughts before the next entry. Another challenge equally met by Gu. At all times she exhibited utmost confidence and musicianship. A standing ovation showed the audiences approval.
FVSO Plays to Their Strenghts
January 26, 2013
"The second half was devoted, in its entirety, to the Violin Concerto in B minor by Edward Elgar. This massive three-movement concerto, though not frequently performed, can still be considered among the masterpieces of the violin literature. It demands tremendous technical skill, a deep understanding of the work as a whole, and the ability to penetrate through the large orchestra for which it is scored. All these demands were met, and more, by violin soloist Wen-Lei Gu.

The main element of Elgar’s concerto is its rich musical content. This is not only for the orchestration, but also a primary element in the solo violin part as well. Gu's approach to the concerto was one of acceptance, working with the orchestra, and then to soar to the heights of the instrument when allowed to escape from the multitude of instruments surrounding her.

The moments in which the solo violin is not playing seemed to be few and far between. This could easily become overly demanding of the soloist, not so with Gu. I was so impressed with her ability to hold her own, and function within the many layers of sound so as to create her own musical tapestry, always present, always in command, always to the forefront of musical interpretation.

The prevailing tone of the concerto is one of extreme somberness, not truly obtaining a gesture of spirited writing until the final movement. Also, though the effect of a cadenza is implied upon occasion, one does not occur until the latter passages of the final movement, and even this is partially accompanied.

Gu's interpretation allowed the solo violin to break this darkness with the brightness of her playing. At times rising to the upper limits of the fingerboard, while at other times drawing upon the rich color of the low G string, then darting masterfully over passages in harmonics, and later stating a theme in multiple stops, she demonstrated all the instrument had to offer, bringing the concerto to life and displaying an artistry that is rare and welcome.

The Elgar is truly a wonderful concerto, one that progresses from beginning to end with increased animation and color; one that calls for deep musical skills of a soloist like no other. Gu's interpretation reflected all of this to the highest level."

— James Chaudoir, for the Post-Crescent

".... the young violinist Wenlei Gu, brilliant former student of the Juilliard School in New York (and not by chance now resident in the American metropolis): a concert artist of great worth, with her abundant and pliant sound and technical security, capable of rendering an old warhorse like the Sinfonie espanole of Lalo with flexible phrasing and at the same time exciting, unexpected (something not easy to hear today, not even from certain big names of the international concert scene), with fascinating expressive nuances."
- la Provincia Pavese

"Amazing Performance"
- Erlanger Nachrichten

"A musical sensation -- top-notch musicianship and technical perfection rendered the bravura pieces wtih absolutely stunning results.  Every listener could could feel that she played with incredible enthusiasm and with all her heart.... She is on her way to a great career."
- Frankfurter Neue Presse

Profound musicality with well-honed technique and sensitive interpretation, elegant and controlled playing."
- Westphaelisches Volksblatt, Paderborn

Sounds like a poem; looks like a painting."
- Yehudi Menuhin

"The young violinist Gu Wenlei performed her challenging part with clean technique, virtuosic precision, and highly refined tone."
-Augsbürger Allgemeine – Bilder aus China

"Gu Wenlei was an astoundingly sensitive soloist, whose immaculate tone expressed all the subtleties of this musical fairytale. The violin sings tenderly of love and heartbreak , which is only possible because the soloist possesses an immense technical arsenal through which she allows her instrument to both sing and lament."
Nürnberger Zeitung – Romeo und Julia als Schmetterlinge