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Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, January 2014

This latest offering from the brilliant young violinist Rachel Barton Pine features one well-known concerto, a controversial concerto, and two short pieces by an acknowledged master.

…what I found interesting about her performance of [the Mendelssohn Concerto] was not the enthusiasm of the last movement—that almost speaks for itself—but the incredible melancholy that she brings to the first movement. I’ve heard about a dozen recordings of this Concerto, and not once in all of my experience have I heard those phrases played with such sadness. It’s a bold and daring interpretation, and I for one applaud her for finding an artistic solution to this music different from her fellows.

The Romances are played with a warm and loving legato.

Overall…an extraordinary disc…This is a great artist who is communicating with the composers…Highly recommended. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Brian Wigman
Classical Net, December 2013

You probably don’t think you need another Mendelssohn concerto in your collection, and you may not think you need the Schumann at all. This could very well be the recording that changes your mind.

In the Mendelssohn, Pine brings her customary freshness and seriousness of purpose to this oft-played warhorse…the violinist is aided by fine podium support and exceptional sound. For her part, Pine opens the concerto with an almost laser-like tone, but one which retains warmth and beauty. It’s frankly a unique sound, and may take you by surprise. The orchestral contribution is weighty and purposeful, and the violinist practically has her instrument singing by mid-movement. It’s around this time that you understand the validity of the approach, and also that there’s something setting this disc apart from the crowd. Mueller’s orchestra plays very well, and is clearly of one mind with Pine. A lovely second movement andante impresses with its forward motion and refusal to drag or linger too long. The result is entirely convincing…It’s a refreshing take, and very special. A really exceptional finale, featuring a terrific rhythmic profile and stunning violin playing, caps off a unique look at this staple of the repertoire.

Pine’s take on the Schumann is to my ears the best on the market. Rachel Barton Pine and conductor Mueller really make the work their own. The first movement is launched excitingly with a real attention to dynamics. Pine’s entrance sounds like an event…Mueller brings tremendous conviction and cogency to the accompaniments. As a result, the entire work is elevated. I loved this. The two Beethoven romances are as wonderful as the rest of the disc, and generous to boot. A clear winner, and a joy to hear. © 2013 Classical Net Read complete review

Laurie Niles, December 2013

Robert Schumann’s Violin Concerto, neglected for so long, seems to be gaining popularity these days. If you have never heard it, this recording is a great place to start, paired with the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. © 2013

Donald Rosenberg
Gramophone, December 2013

Recordings of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto continue to arrive…Only an artist who has a truly distinctive view of the work will catch the ear amid all of the competing versions. Rachel Barton Pine is one such artist. She brings to the Mendelssohn Concerto a simplicity of expression that compels the listener to sit up and take notice.

The performance is but one example of Pine’s versatility. Her Mendelssohn reveals a musician who is always alert to style and phrasing…Pine emphasises the music’s Classical grace and lyricism, producing sounds of lean purity, almost without vibrato, to trace the curve of phrases. She meets the concerto’s technical challenges without hesitation, sailing through the last movement’s fleet passages as if they were natural excursions.

Pine brings the same elegance to Schumann’s Violin Concerto…there is much poetry to mine in the work and Pine shows her commitment to the score in tandem with fine colleagues, conductor Christoph‑Mathias Mueller and the Göttingen Symphony Orchestra. Filling out the disc are refined accounts of the two Beethoven Romances. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

James Manheim, November 2013

This recording by Chicago violinist Rachel Barton Pine has no right to work as well as it does. Funded through Kickstarter, it features the mid-level Göttinger Symphonie Orchester from Germany, and Pine takes on one of the absolute warhorses of the repertory, the Violin Concerto in E minor, Op 64, of Felix Mendelssohn. How could she have anything to add? As it happens, her performance of the Mendelssohn is startlingly good and merits consideration from anybody at all looking for a recording of the work. Her differentiation between the themes of the opening movement is very strong, with the second subject forming its own island of repose within the movement. And her finale is a romping joy: …you can…hear a vigorous fiddling quality in her reading. © 2013 Read complete review

Maria Nockin
Fanfare, November 2013

Barton Pine plays [the Mendelssohn] with quite a distinctive interpretation. She lets you know she is enjoying the pace as she rises to the challenge. Her blazing bow work and perfectly intoned notes are always impeccably smooth as the fingers of her left hand fly through the movement with seeming ease. The imaginative phrasing of her expressive Andante soars over the orchestra with limpid, poignant beauty. She plays the beginning of the third movement with ardor and the wonderful Finale marked Allegro molto vivace with amazing artistry and technique.

Barton Pine plays [the Schumann] with a deep emotional commitment that is palpable throughout her performance. With her judicious use of rubato and a tasteful interpretation, Barton Pine has put her indelible stamp on the Schumann. She has come to love it intensely and she is teaching her fans to love it as well.

The two Beethoven Romances are a charming addition to this excellent disc. Since one is placed between the concertos and the other is at the very end, they add moments of contemplation that allow the listener to fully absorb the untrammelled joy of the Mendelssohn and the deeply compelling lyricism of the Schumann. Christoph-Mathias Mueller and the Göttinger Symphonie of Lower Saxony give stellar performances of the orchestral parts of each work…the sound on this Cedille recording is brimming with life…I heartily recommend this delightful recording. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Terry Robbins
The WholeNote, October 2013

There is…thoughtful and intelligent playing of the highest order on Mendelssohn & Schumann Violin Concertos, where violinist Rachel Barton Pine is joined by the Göttinger Symphonie Orchester under Christoph-Mathias Mueller…The two Beethoven Romances are also included.

[Barton Pine’s] approach [in the Mendelssohn] is sensitive and low-key, but no less effective for that. It’s thoughtful playing with a light touch, and with tempi that are kept moving; no time for wallowing in sentiment here, but no lack of feeling either.

Mueller was responsible for Barton Pine’s deciding to record the [Schumann], and the soloist has done her work here, making judicious changes where she felt necessary; in particular, she and Mueller make the final movement work extremely well.

The performances of the Beethoven F major and G major Romances follow the approach set in the Mendelssohn, with a clear tone, slow and spare vibrato and a nice sense of movement.

Barton Pine’s own extensive and excellent booklet notes contribute to another top-notch Cedille issue. © 2013 The WholeNote Read complete review

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, October 2013

…Ms Pine’s interpretation of the [Mendelssohn] piece is sweetly gentle. She does not race through the music to prove her energy and enthusiasm to the listener. She dances lightly through the notes, virtuosic, to be sure, yet with a tender, sympathetic step. When the music calls for big outbursts, certainly she’s ready as the occasion demands.

The second-movement Andante is likewise sweet and gentle…Ms. Pine never makes it sound sentimental, though, so we can’t get too weepy-eyed over it. Rather, she keeps it grounded, simple, direct, and beautifully effective. Then, in the finale, she goes out with an appropriately cheerful, sprightly bounce, wonderfully happy and entertaining. This is Mendelssohn’s music as we’ve always thought about it, frothy and enchanting.

…there is no denying that Ms. Pine puts in a heartfelt performance [in the Schumann]…Cedille’s lovely recording quality further makes Ms Pine’s interpretation a pleasurable experience.

Producer Steven Epstein and engineer Bill Maylone recorded the music for Cedille…Like most Cedille recordings, this one is quite good. The sound is big, warm, spacious, and realistic. Orchestral depth is good, too, dynamics are reasonably wide, and definition…is lifelike, with a soft, ambient glow around the instruments. Ms Pine’s violin appears nicely centered in front of the orchestra but not so far forward as to be unnatural.

…with a generous seventy-one minutes of playing time, the disc provides not only good interpretations and good sound but plenty of both. For me, it was worth a listen and will continue to be worth a listen for a long time to come. © 2013 Classical Candor Read complete review

Kara Dahl Russell
The WSCL Blog, October 2013

Internationally renowned Rachel BP is known for taking risks in her repertoire…not so much the selections, but the creative ways that she throws things together. This offering is safely traditional, major works, with the always pleasing combination of violin and orchestra. © 2013 The WSCL Blog

Rick Anderson
Baker & Taylor CD Hotlist, October 2013

This is a typically sparkling and brilliantly colorful performance from violinist Rachel Barton Pine, the fourth in her ongoing series of recordings drawing on the German romantic violin repertoire…I’m not sure there’s a violinst anywhere right now with a deeper and more joyful sense for this music, the Mendelssohn in particular. This album is a pure pleasure. © 2013 Baker & Taylor CD Hotlist Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, October 2013

Two great violin concertos…are both given warm, eloquent performances by American artist of the bow Rachel Barton Pine.

The world-famous one is…Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor, Op 64. Pine does a splendid job of making her points and following the contour and the seamless flow of Mendelssohn’s narrative, making it seem almost new and fresh in spite of its long familiarity with audiences.

The Schumann is…given a better performance, which is fortunate, considering its long history of neglect…The opening movement, with its robust double exposition, is certainly more symphonic than you would expect in a romantic concerto, creating problems of stamina for violinists less capable than Pine, who takes its demands in stride while engaging in intimate discourse with the various sections of the orchestra in the minor-key development section. She also brings out the searching character and the aching, poignant mood of the slow movement, remarkable even for Schumann…

The Romances in G major, Op 40 and F major, Op 50 possess a miniature perfection and effortless Mozartean lyricism…Both have enjoyed a long history as favorite encores for violinist and orchestra, and Rachel Barton Pine shows us why. © 2013 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

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