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Instrument of the Devil Import

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, December 2, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On Instrument of the Devil, gifted young violinist Rachel Barton displays her technical prowess and the instrument's emotional range in an unusual, virtuosic program that. The CD opens with a dramatic prelude: the violin-made sound of bells tolling midnight in Saint-Saens' arrangement of his symphonic poem Danse Macabre, Op. 40. With a penchant for historically informed performances, Mss Barton performs Tartini's Sonata in G minor ("The Devil's Trill") from a 1798 first edition, rather than Kreisler's familiar, romanticized version. Liszt's Mephisto Waltz is a piano piece that depicts the Devil playing a frenzied dance on the violin. In a turnabout, Miss Barton performs Nathan Milstein's monstrously challenging arrangement for solo violin. Bazzini's Round of the Goblins is one of Miss Barton's standard encores. Even without the theatrics of live performance, this addictive musical confection is a crowd-pleaser. Miss Barton co-wrote and performs, with pianist Sinozich, and original transcription of Berlioz's Dream of a Witches' Sabbath from Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 -- a familiar theme in an unusual guise. Polish violinist Pawel Kochanski, a contemporary of Manuel de Falla, transcribed several of the Spanish composer's works. Miss Barton performs his version of the Dance of Terror from El amor brujo (Love, The Magician), depicting the ill-timed appearance of a lover's angry ghost. Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst's Grand Caprice on Schubert's Der Erlkönig, Op. 26, is considered one of the most difficult works ever written for solo violin. The violin assumes three vocal roles and the piano's ubiquitous galloping-horse leitmotiv. No disc exploring the associations between the Devil and the violin would be complete without a work by the great nineteenth-century virtuoso Niccolo Paganini. Miss Barton has chosen to include Paganini's The Witches, Op. 8.

Stravinsky's The Devil's Dance comes from the trio version of his L'Histoire du soldat. Of the many instrumental fantasies based on Gounod's Faust opera, Wieniawski's is the most familiar for violin -- and the most physically challenging. But Miss Barton and producer James Ginsburg felt Pablo Sarasate's version was musically superior and more in the diabolical spirit of Gounod's original. Miss Barton earned a reputation as a stellar Sarasate interpreter with her acclaimed CD, Homage to Sarasate.


The title and garish cover photo give little indication of how excellent this disc is. Rachel Barton's powerful musical personality lifts virtuoso showpieces (Bazzini, Paganini, Sarasate) almost into the realm of high art. She plays Ernst's virtuoso arrangement (for solo violin!) of Schubert's Der Erlkönig with drama intense as any singer's. Her version of Tartini's Devil's Trill isn't quite as crazy as Andrew Manze's, but it's similarly wild and heavily embellished. Among fascinating novelties are Milstein's solo violin version of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz and the performers' own arrangement of the "Witches' Sabbeth" from Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. This is a unique and wonderful disc, not to be missed by any lover of the violin. Sinozich and the other collaborators all play as well as Barton. --Leslie Gerber

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Danse macabre, symphonic poem in G minor, Op. 40
  2. Sonata for violin & continuo in G minor, B. g5 ('The Devil's Trill'): I. Larghetto Affectuoso
  3. Sonata for violin & continuo in G minor, B. g5 ('The Devil's Trill'): II. Tempo guisto della Scuola Tartinista
  4. Sonata for violin & continuo in G minor, B. g5 ('The Devil's Trill'): III. Sogni dellautore: Andante
  5. Mephisto Waltz (I & II), for piano No. 1 (Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke), S. 514 (LW A189)
  6. La Ronde des Lutins, scherzo fantastique for violin & piano, Op. 25
  7. Symphonie fantastique for orchestra ('Episode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties'), H.48 (Op. 14): Dream of a Witches' Sabbath
  8. El Amor brujo, chamber version for 2 violins, viola, cello, bass & piano, G. 48: Dance of Terror
  9. Grand caprice on Der Erlkönig, for solo violin (after Franz Schubert), Op. 26
  10. Le streghe, variations for violin & orchestra in E flat major, Op. 8, MS 19
  11. L'histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale), suite transcribed for violin, clarinet & piano: The Devil's Dance
  12. Fantasy on Gounod's 'Faust,' for violin & orchestra (or piano), Op. 13

Product Details

  • Performer: Rachel Barton, Sinozich, Tartini, Liszt, Paganini, et al.
  • Audio CD (December 2, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Cedille
  • ASIN: B00000DGNA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #624,352 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Rachael Barton is a very unique artist, overcoming her disastrous subway incident in which she lost a leg and an ankle to win and earn high honors in many prestigious competitions. Her unparelleled virtuosity shines in the Paganini, and, though the Bazzini has rhythm problems in the melody, the overall depth and scope of her playing is astounding. This is a violinist not to be reckoned with.
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A few times a year a committee of artists, politicians, and the like (the Paganini committee), allows the revered violin which once belonged to Nicolo Paganini to be played. Exacting standards by the committee must be met for a performer to play Paganini's "Cannon." In my opinion, Rachel Barton truly deserves a "shot" at the "Cannon" (pardon the humor.) I bought this CD after reading about the Ernst transcription of Schubert's "Erlko"nig," checked out the reviews of a host of violinists who performed it--and was totally shocked when I heard Barton's performance of the piece. She actually gets the "four voices" of the narrator, child, father, and Erlko"nig on a solo violin!! One listen and I could not believe that this was a solo violinist!! All of the compositions are just as memorable, and the two other artists who appear on the album are also excellent!!
Paganini wrote compositions which were pronounced "unplayable" by virtuosi of his era--in Paganini's flamboyance, he would not only perform them, but often carry a razor and, after the double/triple stops, would cut the strings, sometimes finishing an "unplayable" composition on one string.
I hope that if/when Rachel Barton plays the "Cannon," she leaves the razor at home!!
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Verified Purchase
This is fantastic, I have played violin for 55 years, this young lady most assuredly plays beyond excellent. If you like clasical violin music then you will certainly enjoy this CD. I played it through twice on the first sitting. I will put it in my player for continued play. WNL
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