MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in e. SCHUMANN Violin Concerto. BEETHOVEN Romances Nos. 1 and 2 • Rachel Barton Pine (vn); Christoph-Mathias Mueller, cond; Göttinger SO • CEDILLE 90000144 (71:20)
Rachel Barton Pine’s new release on Cedille Records contains a pairing of the violin concertos by Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann, plus the two short Romances by Ludwig van Beethoven. WhenRead more Mendelssohn became Kapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1835, he made his friend Ferdinand David the concertmaster. In a letter dated July 30, 1838, Mendelssohn wrote to him: “I should like to write a violin concerto for you next winter. One in E minor runs through my head, the beginning of which gives me no peace.” He worked on it for six years, during which he kept up a regular correspondence about it with the violinist. David premiered it with his orchestra in1845, the last year of the composer’s life.
Barton Pine plays this most familiar piece with quite a distinctive interpretation. Her first movement is light, fast, and dripping with passion. She lets you know she is enjoying the pace as she rises to the challenge. Her blazing bow work and perfectly intoned notes are always impeccably smooth as the fingers of her left hand fly through the movement with seeming ease. The imaginative phrasing of her expressive Andante soars over the orchestra with limpid, poignant beauty. She plays the beginning of the third movement with ardor and the wonderful Finale marked
Allegro molto vivace with amazing artistry and technique. As we all know, the most renowned violinists of the 20th and 21st centuries have recorded it so the competition is fierce. Joshua Bell recorded the Concerto for Sony in 2002 with Roger Norrington and the Camerata Salzburg. His performance is tasteful and inviting, but I think it lacks some of Barton Pine’s intensity and excitement. Recording in 1995 on Deutsche Grammophon, Anne Sophie Mutter plays beautifully, but her interpretation lacks some of the individual flair and drama heard on the Cedille disc. A more recent release is Alina Ibragimova’s Hyperion recording, a historically informed performance of the Concerto with Vladimir Jurowski and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Her playing is exciting but she does not have Barton Pine’s depth of understanding. Reaching back into history, there are some great performances by artists such as Henryk Szeryng, but their sound is nowhere near the present state of the art.
Like the Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann’s Concerto has many renditions despite its difficult birth. Although Clara Schumann, Joseph Joachim, and Johannes Brahms consigned it to a shelf, by now it has earned a place in the hearts of the music-loving public. Barton Pine plays it with a deep emotional commitment that is palpable throughout her performance. Henryk Szeryng plays it together with the Mendelssohn Concerto on a Mercury Living Presence CD released in 1994. On a Teldec disc, also released in 1994, Gidon Kremer’s rendition of the Violin Concerto is paired with Martha Argerich’s interpretation of Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Known for his individualism, Kremer plays the first and third movements much slower and with greater deliberation than Barton Pine, but his second movement is faster. Barton Pine’s first two movements are slower than Szeryng’s, but she plays the finale faster than either Szeryng or Kremer. All of that pales in comparison to these fine artists’ interpretation of this great but much maligned work. With her judicious use of rubato and a tasteful interpretation, Barton Pine has put her indelible stamp on the Schumann. She has come to love it intensely and she is teaching her fans to love it as well.
The two Beethoven Romances are a charming addition to this excellent disc. Since one is placed between the concertos and the other is at the very end, they add moments of contemplation that allow the listener to fully absorb the untrammelled joy of the Mendelssohn and the deeply compelling lyricism of the Schumann. Christoph-Mathias Mueller and the Göttinger Symphonie of Lower Saxony give stellar performances of the orchestral parts of each work. Except for one slightly muddy note at the very end of the Mendelssohn, the sound on this Cedille recording is brimming with life and it allows you to feel as if seated in the 10th row center of a fine concert hall. I heartily recommend this delightful recording.
Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64by Felix Mendelssohn Performer:
Rachel Barton Pine (Violin)
Gottinger Symphonie Orchester
Period: Romantic Written: 1844; Germany
Concerto for Violin in D minorby Robert Schumann Performer:
Rachel Barton Pine (Violin)
Gottinger Symphonie Orchester
Period: Romantic Written: 1853; Germany
Great CDDecember 18, 2013By Joe S. See All My Reviews"Ill leave it to you to look up the violinist Rachel Barton Pines story (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/arts/music/years-after-a-calamity-rachel-barton-pine-prospers.html?_r=0 is a good start), but her work speaks for itself without the narrative, especially on her new CD with the Göttinger Symphony Orchestra under Christoph-Mathias Mueller. The album features Mendelssohn and Schumanns Violin Concertos and Beethovens 2 Romances for Violin and Orchestra. The album is almost worth it for the program notes alone. Pines program notes are lucid in their analysis of the works and the parallels between them. She augments her sound academic work with honest accounts of her experiences of the works, from her reticence to learn the Schumann to her always thinking Yeehaw! when she plays the last movement of the Mendelssohn. The Mendelssohn is a fun, lighter piece from the standard repertoire. The form is basically classical, but there are moments here and there where he strayed from the classical conventions, including the cadenza and the transitions between movements. These moments shine. The audio quality is great and the orchestra never overpowers the soloist. Great stuff. The album notes detail how the inclusion of the Beethoven Romances was an afterthought because they were ahead of schedule during the recording. If youre a sucker for slow Beethoven rondos like I am, youve got the right album. The form is light and predictable, but the emotional content jammed into the form makes these pieces stand out. The Schumann Violin Concerto has had a hard time entering the standard repertoire, and frankly you can hear why. The piece feels very long compared to other works on the album, and the virtuosity and difficulty for the violinist doesnt come off as artistically gratifying or entertaining. Its no fault of Pines, she SHREDS. Its just not the best thing Schumann wrote. He composed the piece in a period of waning sanity and had no time to consult with performers on whether the violin part was playable, so there are some technical problems with the work. This album features Pines own alterations to the part to make it more playable. The piece has an interesting, checkered history, from its appropriation by the Nazis and a 75-year period after Schumanns death of it never being performed. Whether its history justifies it being brought into the repertoire is for some other discussion. The piece is interesting, but I wont be listening again anytime soon. All in all, though, the album is worth it for Pines playing, the great album notes, and the Mendelssohn and Beethoven pieces on the album."Report Abuse