Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Latin music for solo violin, with a surprise ending

From November 20, 2011:


In Rachel Barton Pine's new disc of solo violin music this highly talented musician presents a variety of pieces from Spain and Latin America. Some of the music was written for the violin, both practice pieces and show-pieces written to show off the violinist's virtuosity. As well, there are arrangements of music originally written for guitar. Two well-known works in the latter category stand out. Barton Pine's own version of Albeniz's great Asturias (Leyenda) is very impressive, though I find Francisco Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra (in Ruggiero Ricci's arrangement) fits less well on the violin. Both pieces are played here with precision and strong feeling.

Technical skill is pretty much a given here, but I find the more evocative pieces of more interest than those that focus on playing lots of notes all in the right order. The three tango-related pieces, by Jose Luis Gonzalez, Jose Serebrier, and Astor Piazzolla, are alternately driving and passionate, and beautifully played. Virtuosity is always on display, but more importantly, so is musicianship of the highest order.

But wait, there's more! The disc ends with a real surprise: Alan Ridout's Ferdinand. The actor Hector Elizondo narrates the beloved Munro Leaf story Ferdinand the Bull, while Barton Pine provides the musical accompaniment that helps to make this story every bit as entertaining as the Oscar-winning Disney cartoon from 1938.

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