The Strad Issue: January 2013
Description: A delightful disc of miniatures succeeds in its aim to soothe
Musicians: Rachel Barton Pine (violin) Matthew Hagle (piano)
Composer: Brahms, Ysaÿe, Rebikov, Beach, Schwab, Respighi, Gershwin, Falla, Fauré, Sibelius, Viardot-García, Hovhaness, Stravinsky, Ravel, Clarke, Schubert, Schumann, Durosoir, Grieg, Antsev, Strauss, Sivori, Béraud, Still & Reger

I cannot vouch for this disc’s ability to soothe your baby to sleep, but can attest to its slumberous qualities on those of more advancing years. Rachel Barton Pine’s choice of works covers lullabies from Schubert’s Wiegenlied, composed in 1816, through to William Grant Still’s 1943 Mother and Child, and introduces us to world premiere recordings of a number of works, including the soothing Berceuse by the 19th-century Russian composer Vladimir Rebikov, and a work of the same name by Paganini’s pupil Camillo Sivori.

Setting the scene with an arrangement of Brahms’s Wiegenlied, Pine’s warming vibrato creates a smooth and soothing quality, with a liberal use of portamento shaping long flowing lines at a dynamic range seldom rising above mezzo forte. Tempos tend to be on the slow side, though I much enjoyed the quite quick approach to Fauré’s Berceuse, and among the disc’s many attractive tracks is the last of Sibelius’s Six Pieces op.79, in which she spins a dexterous web around the piano part. She plays a beautiful 1742 Guarneri ‘del Gesù’, and its nutty lower end sounds gorgeous in Alan Hovhaness’s seldom heard Oror, probably composed when he was just eleven.
The recording ideally balances the instruments and offers a soft-grained quality.

David Denton