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Scottish Fantasies for Violin and Orchestra with Rachel Pine (2 CDs)
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Wonderful books by David Johnson and John Purser not only discussed classical music, but exposed me to the connections between Scotland's classical and folk music. It was fascinating to learn about the influence of classical violin playing on traditional fiddling in the 18th century. In turn, Scottish folk music has inspired numerous classical compositions throughout the last three centuries.
19th century Spanish violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate's great affinity for Scotland and its folk music is well documented. Bruch dedicated his Scottish Fantasy to Sarasate. At Sarasate's request, Mackenzie wrote his Pibroch Suite. Sarasate himself wrote a piece called Scottish Airs. Each of these pieces utilizes traditional Scottish folk tunes -- a wonderful theme for a recording project.
As the project evolved, it was suggested that I collaborate with the renowned Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser on a short twin fiddle piece. Alasdair and I first met in 2003, when he headlined Chicago's Celtic Fest. I'll never forget playing a melody from the Prince Charlie Rhapsody and hearing Alasdair pick up his violin and improvise a beautiful descant. Our approach to music was so similar; I was thrilled by the possibility of working together.
Alasdair's contribution to this album goes far beyond our twin fiddle medley. He helped me identify each folk tune in the classical pieces. He acted as a "dialect coach," showing me how the original versions would be played by an authentic fiddler and identifying spots in the music where the limitations of 19th century notation failed to capture an effect accurately. By incorporating as much traditional Scottish flavor as I could, I have tried to bring out the roots of these sophisticated symphonic works.
Given Sarasate's familiarity with Scottish fiddling, I suspect that he also may have added "gaelicisms" to these pieces when he performed them. This raises an intriguing question: If the Scottish Fantasy had been composed in the 21st century, would it be considered a "crossover" fiddle concerto rather than a German classical violin concerto?
I hope that this recording expands your appreciation of Scottish folk music and that you enjoy the glorious works for violin and orchestra that bring these beautiful fiddle tunes into the realm of high art.
Top Customer Reviews
Rachel Barton Pine is a virtuoso, but her musicianship shines and it makes her virtuosity just a tool. She is so much more than the flying fingers. In a winning combination with Maestro Alexander Platt, an immensely talented conductor, they have produced a classic which will be listened to for years to come. There may never be a comparable Scottish Fantasy and Pibroch Suite performance. Mr. Platt leaves no note unexpressed. As opposed to the lesser conductors, who sometimes overpower the soloist, or who seek their own limelight at the expense of the soloist, Mr. Platt achieves a perfect union of the soloist and the orchestra, just as it should be. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is also at its best.
These records' main value is in the interpretation, which is insightful and elegant. There are no over-interpretations, however, in which the soloist or orchestra would push their own detailed view of this music.Read more ›
The trouble with this recording is that it could make one not want to listen to any others, which would be a shame because the Heifetz recordings deserve their status as definitive. (I have in mind the nicely engineered 1961 stereo version with Sir Malcolm Sargent. Bruch: Concerto for violin in Gm; Scottish Fantasy) Indeed, I never thought I would hear a performance to challenge Heifetz's; in one sense this recording does just that: it is now my co-favorite with Heifetz's; but in another way it cannot challenge Heifetz's because the respective approaches operate as if in different dimensions. Both find the heart and soul of the music but in almost opposite ways: Heifetz's is fire-and-ice cool but simultaneously intense (doesn't sound possible; but that's the miracle of Heifetz); Pine`s is more relaxed and overtly soulful. Pine summons as much virtuosity as Heifetz when appropriate, including his fearless tempi. There was one spot in the first movement where Pine had less intensity than Heifetz and less than I would have liked, but she proves later on that that was an artistic choice, as she had plenty of fire to breathe when needed. (I am sorry to bring up the Heifetz so much, but I know of no other recording against which it is worth comparing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is really a four and a half...the playing is superb and the music is wonderful... don't think the recording is quite up to a "five."Published 13 months ago by David
The performance of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy on this release is on the whole good, though it just doesn't come close to the vintage and venerated recording by Heifetz and Sargent on... Read morePublished on December 31, 2012 by J. R. Trtek