Singing or playing music to a child to make him/her sleepy is as old as humanity, but the lullaby in classical instrumental music is of more temporally circumscribed vintage. The earliest piece on this album of lullabies for violin and piano is probably the Wiegenlied, D. 498, of Franz Schubert; the latest are perhaps Mother and Child, for violin and piano, by William Grant Still, and George Gershwin's Summertime, which is delightful heard in this context. In between, however, the form was extraordinarily popular, and violin and piano were a favored combination; Summertime and several other pieces here are arrangements, but the majority were originally composed for this medium. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine indicates that the birth of her first child inspired her to issue the album, and identifies new mothers as a possible marketplace, but the collection also ought to be heard by those interested in the domestic significance of the smaller Romantic genres. There are some lovely works here that aren't much heard except as encores, such as Grieg's Vuggevise (Cradle Song, track 19), and others by composers now all but unknown. Twenty-five lullabies in a row is a lot, but Pine has taken steps to keep you from nodding off: she classifies the pieces as "warm," "delicate," or "mysterious," and uses a different mute for each. The temptation to give this as a baby shower gift is strong, but that's not its only use.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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