Rachel Barton Pine

Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos; Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364

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Chicago-based violinist Rachel Barton Pine bounced back from a devastating accident (she was dragged for several hundred feet by a commuter train after her case strap was snared in the automated doors) and has delivered innovative programs in recordings for Chicago's Cedille label and, increasingly, for major labels. Here she tackles mainstays of the violin concerto repertory, the five Mozart violin concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola, and orchestra, K. 364. It's often a charming set, not only because of Barton Pine's efforts, but also because of the nature of her interaction with the conductor, 90-year-old Neville Marriner, leading the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. In the solo concertos (the Sinfonia Concertante is more straightforward and quite confident in carving out the big spaces the work needs), she offers some quite adventurous moves, but is answered by Marriner with perfect suaveness and smoothness. Consider the slowed-down entrance of the soloist in the first movement of the Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219 (CD 2, track 1), where Barton Pine pushes the tempo possibilities of the classical style almost to their limit but is met by the equally persuasive arguments of the orchestra. It's one of those rare performances where soloist and conductor delightfully emerge as distinct personalities, and it's both a fine document from the great Marriner's late career and a strong entry in the catalog of a still-rising American violinist.

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