Arts Blog

Rachel Barton Pine: Testament (Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin)

Any serious violinist is going to be well-acquainted with the unaccompanied works of Johann Sebastian Bach.  Several violinists have taken on these seminal, almost mystical works, in recordings.  Rachel Barton Pine brings not only the artistic sensitivity and talent to these six pieces, but also great credentials:  She’s the only American Gold Medalist of the J.S. Bach International Violin Competition in Leipzig.  Pine’s meticulous details (bowing, articulation, etc.) will appear in a major new book about the sonatas and partitas by Carl Fischer.  Her newest CD, “Testament” (Avie Records) displays Pine’s deep knowledge of the score, and her ability to express her own personality through the music.

Ms. Pine has made a lifelong study of Bach’s manuscript and, for context, the great composer’s contemporaries who wrote music for unaccompanied violin.  Until Brahms’ friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim, made the case for these 6 suites to be played publicly, they were thought of as “didactic exercises”, as Rachel explains in my recorded conversation.  We also talk about her recent visit to Portland (via the Friends of Chamber Music), and her live appearance on our own Thursdays @ Three

As well as Rachel’s love of so many other styles, including Scottish fiddle and heavy metal (Rachel cites a recent London study that showed that classical music listeners and heavy metal fans have much in common:  deep knowledge of their respective genre, and great passion for the music.  A “testament” which Ms. Pine will readily proclaim.

Testament: Complete Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin by J. S. Bach
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