Capricho Latino / Rachel Barton Pine

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From start to finish, I was absolutely mesmerized by this CD. There isn’t a really weak link among the 14 pieces, and Barton Pine’s prowess as a violinist has, I think, never been more boldly or excitingly displayed.


CAPRICHO LATINO Rachel Barton Pine (vn); 1 Héctor Elizondo (narr) ÇEDILLE 125 (79:41)

ALBÉNIZ Asturias (Leyenda). CORDERO Rapsodia Panameña. TRADITIONAL Balada Española. ESPÉJO Prélude Ibérique. QUIROGA Emigrantes Celtas. Terra!! Á Nosa!! YSAŸE Sonata No. 6. GONZÁLEZ Epitalamio Tanguero. J. WHITE Etude No. 6. TARREGA Recuerdos de la Alhambra. RODRIGO Capriccio. SEREBRIER Aires de Tango. PIAZZOLLA Tango Etude No. 3 con Libertango. 1 RIDOUT Ferdinand the Bull

I was at a bit of a disadvantage in reviewing this CD as the promo copy I received had track listings by the composers’ last names but no identifiers of the works or composers’ first names and dates. Of course, I knew who Albéniz, Ysaÿe, Rodrigo, Serebrier, and Piazzolla were, but the only two pieces I recognized by ear were the Albéniz Asturias and Rodrigo’s Capriccio (though I’d forgotten the title of the latter). A few days later I received a full track listing but no liner notes, yet I noticed that the Serebrier piece was dedicated to Rachel Barton Pine, and the González to both Rachel and her husband, Greg.

Despite the confusion, I enjoyed the CD immensely. Judging from her other CDs I’ve listened to after this (Handel sonatas, Instrument of the Devil, and Violin Concertos by Black Composers ), Barton Pine’s style tends more toward the lyric than the dramatic, but her playing here is very dramatic indeed, with sharp attacks, cleanly articulated pizzicato, and impeccable turns. One thing that surprised me was the rich, dark quality of her tone, almost viola-like in places. I would describe it (not negatively) as a “junior Oistrakh.” Every note in her range has a full, rich sound at every dynamic level and, aside from those moments when she is purposely vehement, her bowing is never rough.

Despite the extreme challenges of doing an entire CD unaccompanied, Barton Pine never lets up in creating a rhythmic underpinning for herself. I assume that Roque Cordero’s Rapsodia Panameña is based on different folk music and rhythms than the Panamanian music that reached our shores in the early 20th century, as those were essentially in habanera rhythm and this piece is not. Of course, since Cordero was a late 20th-century composer, the language has elements of bitonality throughout, and there are very quick changes from short but intense lyrical passages to rhythmic outbursts and back, but the piece holds together very well indeed. Jesus Florido’s arrangement of a traditional Spanish ballad consists of almost continual contrapuntal 16ths in which the violinist must emphasize the melody without sacrificing cleanliness of attack. César Espéjo’s Prélude Ibérique, written for Szeryng, has a very similar style though the tonal base is less spiky, and there is a long passage in 16ths that is exciting but more in the nature of a continuous melody than rhythmic accompaniment.

Manuel Quiroga, also known as Quiroga Losada, is the only composer represented by more than one work: a passionate lament in C Minor ( Emigrantes Celtas ), punctuated by short, staccato stabs; and a fiery, rhythmic piece in Terra!! Á Nosa!! which, at times, resembles a Celtic tune in melody and construction. The Ysaÿe sonata—dedicated to Quiroga Losada—has a strong Andalusian flavor. Typically of Ysaÿe, the music is more passionate and evocative of mood than an academic theme-and-devlopment. Later passages of this sonata, using a rhythmic underpinning to the melody, show his knowledge of the unaccompanied partitas of Bach. Compared with this dense piece, the etude by José White sounds almost jolly and simplistic, even repetitive, but nonetheless pleasing. The Serebrier Aires de Tango is really something, feeding into Barton Pine’s reputation for having one of the best staccato techniques on earth, but if anything her transcription of Piazzolla’s Tango Etude is even wilder, and in fact practically steals the show. Those who remember the Disney version of Ferdinand, the Bull with the Delicate Ego will not necessarily like all of Alan Rideout’s more modern version, but it’s a very amusing piece. Héctor Elizondo has a somewhat hoarse speaking voice, but is an interesting and whimsical narrator.

Bottom line: From start to finish, I was absolutely mesmerized by this CD. There isn’t a really weak link among the 14 pieces, and Barton Pine’s prowess as a violinist has, I think, never been more boldly or excitingly displayed.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: CDR 124

  • UPC: 735131912426

  • Label: Cedille

  • Composer: Alan Ridout, Astor Piazzolla, Cesar Espejo, Eugène Ysaÿe, Francisco Tarrega, Isaac Albeniz, Joaquín Rodrigo, José Serebrier, José White, Luis Jorge Gonzalez, Manuel Quiroga, Roque Cordero, Traditional

  • Performer: Héctor Elizondo, Rachel Barton Pine