Coming up: A violin for the angels

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This Sunday afternoon at Sweeney Concert Hall, Smith College, Northampton, violinist Rachel Barton Pine and pianist Matthew Hagle will perform a program of three great violin sonatas (Schubert’s in A Major, Prokofiev’s F Minor, Op. 80 and César Franck’s in A Major) and four selections from Rachel’s “Violin Lullabies” album.  The concert, co-presented by Music In Deerfield (click on link for ticket inf0) and the Smith College Music Department will start at 4:00 — though please come at 3:00 for “Concert Conversations” with Rachel and yours truly.  Yes, I’m Artistic Director (i.e., music picker-outer) for Music In Deerfield, but I hope that, considering the quality of the artists, you’ll forgive the obvious conflict of interest.

Here’s what I wrote for the program booklet:

Can you remember the moment you fell in love?  There you were, minding your own business, listening to the radio, enjoying a recording, or seated in a concert hall.  And then, out of the blue – wham!  A note.  A turn of phrase.  A magical moment, like the oboe entrance in Mozart’s “Gran Partita” that gave Salieri his great epiphany in “Amadeus.”  It could happen to yoooo….

Well, it happened to me, in a hotel conference room, one weekday morning during the annual gathering of public radio music folks.  There we were, buzzing on pastries and coffee, primed to be impressed (or not) by the latest classical hot shot flown in for our delectation by a record label, promoter, or some other handler.

Not that the musician on that particular morning was completely unknown to me, having played her debut recording of Sarasate violin showpieces once or twice on my radio show.  Nothing, however, prepared me for what happened when Rachel Barton (not yet Pine) put her bow down on a string and drew the first note.

Frankly, I don’t recall the selection, some lyrical romantic thing.  But I’ll never forget the bloom of Rachel’s tone – sweet, round, not loud, but wondrously rich, and ample enough to thwart the lousy acoustics of the carpeted, low-ceilinged conference room.  You can go many years and not hear a tone like that.

It was love at first note.  And it’s been a great pleasure since to follow Rachel Barton Pine’s brilliant career, to play her recordings many, many times on-air, and to present her today for her third Music In Deerfield concert.  So beware – it could happen to you!

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