Rachel Barton Pine: Mozart Violin Concertos

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Rachel Barton Pine: Mozart Complete Violin Concertos and Sinfonia Concertante K364
"She is one of the most honest of violin players I have ever heard. And it's a great attraction in this [project], there is no utter embellishment, everything is there for a purpose and musically speaking it makes such good sense with her," said Sir Neville about the collaboration.

"I was elated to record Mozart's violin concertos with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. I grew up on their performances, and working with them exceeded my expectations. Sir Neville's energy, focus and commitment to every detail of the music was incredibly inspiring," Pine says.

As a child, Pine was influenced by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields' interpretations of Mozart's music on the soundtrack to Amadeus, one of her favorite films.

"I always recommend Amadeus to students. While the story may not be factually accurate, the film definitely captures Mozart's personality and his operatic side," says Pine. Having learnt about Mozart's life through recordings and books, the young Chicago violinist broadened her understanding of the composer by studying his operas via the "Live from the Metropolitan Opera" television program.

"Listening to Mozart's operas, I gained an appreciation for the drama and playfulness of his violin concertos. They are filled with constantly changing characters - now happy, now angry and - boy - is there a lot of flirting! Each concerto tells a story, and as the soloist, I get to be the storyteller. I always aspire to base my interpretation within the larger context of historical research and knowledge of other pieces by that particular composer beyond the violin repertoire. This frees me up to connect to and communicate the emotion of what I am performing," Pine adds.

Cadenzas by Pine
Mozart did not leave any written cadenzas or embellishments for his violin concertos as he did in those for the piano. Soloists from Mozart's time created cadenzas extemporaneously. Today's soloists often choose to play cadenzas composed and published by great violinists of the 19th and 20th Centuries, particularly those of Joseph Joachim. However, Pine prefers to play her own. She feels that this is the most personal and organic way to express her feelings about the music. Pine's cadenzas for K211, K216, K218 and K219 are included in The Rachel Barton Pine Collection, a book of sheet music published by Carl Fischer.

Crafting her Interpretation
Pine's love of research fueled additional insights which aided her interpretation of each of the compositions. More details can be found in the recording's program book essay which she authored. K207 in B-flat major and K211 in D major are modeled on the baroque concerto grosso. The first movement of K216 in G major begins with a theme which closely resembles the shepherd-king Aminta's first-act aria 'Aer tranquillo' from Mozart's opera, Il rè pastore, K208: "Tranquil air and serene days, fresh springs and green fields, these are the prayers to fortune of the shepherd and his flocks." In the aria-like second movement, flutes replace the oboes, the only time Mozart includes flutes in his violin concertos. The cheerful third movement features a rustic folk song from Strasbourg. This tune, which was featured in the 2003 film Master and Commander, includes a drone accompaniment and fiddle variations featuring left-hand pizzicato and chromatic triplets.

K218 in D major is more extroverted and virtuosic than are Mozart's first three concertos. Composed in the traditional key of trumpets and horns, the opening tutti and the soloist's first entrance begin with a brass-like fanfare. Interestingly, the fanfare never returns....

K219 in A major features some daringly imaginative structural experiments. The first movement is marked Allegro aperto ("open," "frank"), a rare marking in Mozart's instrumental music but more common in his operas. The joyful opening tutti is followed by a surprise; the soloist enters with a tender Adagio, a type of interlude that does not appear in any of his other concertos. The Adagio material never again appears in the movement. After this brief digression, the soloist continues to startle by playing an entirely new Allegro melody while the orchestra repeats the original opening theme of the exposition, now transformed into an accompaniment. The soloist introduces additional new material of such a dramatic nature that one can almost imagine an operatic dialogue taking place between two characters, at times flirtatious, sentimental, anxious, and even angry.

The last movement of K219 in A major is a gracious minuet. Halfway through the movement, aggressive, exotic-sounding music suddenly intrudes. Menacing and march-like, this music is typical of the "alla Turca" style that was immensely popular in the Classical period.

"Alla Turca" is not Turkish music but a style invented by Europeans to imitate the sound of a Turkish military band. In this case, Mozart references the clanging percussion of a Turkish military band by directing the cellos and basses to bang the wooden parts of their bows against the strings.

The "Alla Turca" style stems from deep-seated cultural and political attitudes that reflected the Western world's fascination with -and in some cases fear of- Eastern and Arabic cultures. Mozart certainly wasn't alone. "Alla Turca" music was fashionable music to play and listen to at the time and was used by such composers as Gluck, Haydn and famously by Mozart in his K331 piano sonata and The Abduction from the Seraglio. So widespread was the fad for this type of faux-Turkish music that pianos built for home use often included an extra pedal that operated a pair of cymbals.

Says Pine, "During my 2011 Turkey debut, I had the opportunity to ask my colleagues in Ankara's Bilkent Symphony how they felt about this rather stereotypical characterization of Turkish music specifically in relation to Mozart's Violin Concerto in A major. They embraced it, and even augmented the orchestra with authentic Turkish percussion instruments in the section where Mozart imitates the percussion of a Turkish military band."

A history
Born on January 27, 1756, Mozart began his musical education when he was three under the primary tutelage of his father, himself a gifted musician and teacher. The young Mozart began to compose at five, started violin lessons at six, making his violin debut at age eight at a concert for the Archbishop Sigismund of Salzburg. As a touring child prodigy, Mozart performed on both violin and keyboard throughout Europe and started to receive coverage in the press and support from patrons.

At age 13, he became second concertmaster to Michael Haydn (brother of Franz Joseph) of the Archbishop of Salzburg's court orchestra. He led the orchestra frequently and took solo parts, often in his own works. The last three of Mozart's five violin concertos were composed in 1775 when he was 19. From analysis of his handwriting and manuscript paper, scholars have concluded that the first concerto was composed two years earlier. For stylistic reasons, it is believed that the second concerto also must have been written prior to 1775.

Mozart has played an important role in the life of Pine, who - for as long as she can remember - has known herself to be a violinist. She began studying the instrument at age three and made her professional debut four years later at age seven with the Chicago String Ensemble. Homeschooling enabled her to practice violin for eight hours a day and gave her the ability to delve deeply into her musical studies. She first learned a Mozart concerto when she was eight, and performed it at the age of 10 with a professional orchestra at her church. "I still rememberthe program's title, 'All Amadeus,' and it included a vocal soloist and orchestral numbers as well as the Mozart Requiem, for which I got to sit in with the orchestra. It was such a thrill," Pine recalls.

By age 14, Pine was contributing significantly to her family's expenses by taking jobs playing at weddings and in orchestras. Soon after she traveled to Europe to compete in international competitions, garnering prizes including a gold medal at the 1992 J.S. Bach International Violin Competition in Leipzig, Germany. She was the first American and, at age 17, the youngest person to ever win this honor.

In 2011, three weeks after the birth of her first child, Pine performed the complete five Mozart Violin Concertos in a single evening's concert. Having played these concertos individually on numerous occasions, practicing them as a cycle greatly deepened her relationship with them. She has since had the opportunity to tour this program across the U.S.

About Rachel Barton Pine
In both art and life, violinist Rachel Barton Pine has an extraordinary ability to connect with people. Celebrated as a leading interpreter of great classical works, she plays with passion and conviction across an extensive repertoire. Audiences are thrilled by her dazzling technique, lustrous tone, and infectious joy in music-making.

Pine has appeared as soloist with many of the world's most prestigious ensembles, including the Chicago, Montreal, Baltimore, and Vienna Symphonies; the Philadelphia Orchestra; the Mozarteum, Scottish, and Israel Chamber Orchestras; the Royal Philharmonic; and the Netherlands Radio Kamer Filharmonie. She has worked with such renowned conductors as Charles Dutoit, Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Neeme Järvi and Marin Alsop. She has performed all 24 Paganini Caprices live in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C. and at Ravinia.

Pine's prolific discography of 24 recordings includes her performance of the Glazunov Violin Concerto with the Russian National Orchestra, conducted by José Serebrier, which is featured on Glazunov Complete Concertos on Warner Classics. Her Violin Lullabies performed with pianist Matthew Hagle and released on Cedille Records debuted at number one on the Billboard classical chart. Her Brahmsand Joachim Violin Concertoswas recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Carlos Kalmar.

With the publication of The Rachel Barton Pine Collection, a collection of original compositions, arrangements, and cadenzas penned or arranged by Pine, Pine became the only living artist to join musicians including Fritz Kreisler and Jascha Heifetz in Carl Fischer's Masters Collection series. Her Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation assists young artists.

Pine performs on the Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu (Cremona 1742), known as the "ex-Bazzini, ex-Soldat," on loan from her patron.

About Sir Neville Marriner
Like his mentor and hero, Pierre Monteux, Sir Neville Marriner began life as a violinist, playing first in a string quartet and trio, then in the London Symphony Orchestra, during which period he founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

After his studies in America with Maestro Monteux, he began his conducting career in 1969, when he founded the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, at the same time developing and extending the size and repertoire of the Academy, and guest conducting orchestras all over the world.

In 1979 he became Music Director and Principal Conductor of both the Minneapolis Orchestra and the Südwest Deutsche Rundfunk, Stuttgart, positions he held until the late into the 1980's.

Subsequently he has continued to work with orchestras round the globe - Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Milan, Athens, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Tokyo. His recording career is well documented and his touring schedule extensive.
He made his opera debut conducting Le nozze di Figaro, at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, his U.S. debut in Los Angeles with La Cenerentola, then a Salzburg Mozarteum production of Il rè pastore. He opened the new opera house in Athens in 2005 with a production of The Magic Flute.

Twice honored for his services to music in his own country, he has recently been awarded honors in France, Germany and Sweden, as well as the 2014 Gramophone special award for Outstanding Achievement.

About Matthew Lipman
Violist Matthew Lipman has been hailed by the New York Times for his "rich tone and elegant phrasing" and by the Chicago Tribune for his "splendid technique and musical sensitivity". Engagements as soloist include the Juilliard, Minnesota, Grand Rapids Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber, Ars Viva Symphony, Montgomery Symphony, Capital City Symphony and Southwest Symphony Orchestras, and as recitalist, the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. and the ShortGrassFestival in Cimarron, New Mexico.

Lipman is the First Prize winner of the Washington, Stulberg, and Johansen International Competitions; the Minnesota Orchestra and Juilliard Competitions, and is a top prizewinner of the Tertis and Primrose International Viola Competitions. He recently joined the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as a member of CMS Two and is a participant of the Music@Menlo, Ravinia, Marlboro, Caramoor, and Perlman Music Program festivals. His chamber music collaborators include David Finckel, Miriam Fried, Paul Katz, Ani and Ida Kavafian, and Itzhak Perlman.

Born in Chicago in 1992, Lipman is a student at the Juilliard School, where he is a recipient of a Kovner Fellowship and serves as teaching assistant to professor Heidi Castleman. He has also studied with Misha Amory, Roland Vamos, and Matthew Mantell. Lipman performs on a fine viola by Matteo Goffriller, 1700, on generous loan from the REB Foundation. This is his recording debut.

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