We are sad to announce the death of an accomplished humanist musician, an enthusiastic, competent and demanding discoverer. Chen Liang-Sheng, for 33 years conductor of the Geneva University Choir, composed of equally enthusiastic singers, passed away on February 27. We participated together in three significant moments, the first two of which, because of their financial scope, gave our small family enterprise a cold sweat: in 1971, the world premiere recording of the original English version of Handel’s oratorio Saul, for soloists, choir and orchestra, with the OSR and Hugues Cuenod in the role of David. In 1972, recording of Mendelssohn’s Psalms 42, 95 and 115 for soloists, choir and orchestra, completely unknown works which had not been performed in concert since their premiere under the direction of the composer. Also with leading soloists, and the OSR. Both recordings by Claude Maréchaux, who accomplished with musicality and technical prowess. Of profound and joyful beauty, these Psalms are now known, played and recorded all over the world.
A Chinese-American, Chen (he was called by his family name) was involved in the training of classical musicians in China, notably in Beijing and Shanghai, giving courses over long periods. He has performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Geneva University Choir, the Beijing Central Conservatory Orchestra, and Chinese soloists in concerts both in China and Switzerland. We have also published a CD recorded during a concert at the Victoria-Hall.
Being the conductor of an “amateur” choir, and one that changes considerably from one year to the next with the changing of university classes, is not the best position to make a name for oneself. Chen made the best of it, putting his ambition in the quality of sharing works that he found beautiful and that he took the time and the trouble to deepen with a rare professional conscience for the performers and the public. (Photo: Jean-Rémy berthoud)