Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Encore Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Hege, conductor
Cedille Records CDR 90000 035
Say "classical music," and most people think of names like Mozart.
Cedille Records want the world to know about two of Mozart's less-familiar contemporaries, Chevalier J.J.O. de Meude-Monpas and Chevalier de Saint-Georges, as well as later composers Joseph White and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. All were men of mixed African and European descent who made important contributions to European music in the 1700s and 1800s. Celebrities in their day, they've been all but forgotten in our era.
Performers are violinist Rachel Barton Pine, a celebrated performer who champions less well-known music, and Chicago's Encore Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Hege. The Center for Black Music Research at Chicago's Columbia College helped rediscover the musical compositions and locate the printed scores.
These composers of color lived colorful lives. Relatively little is known of the early background of French composer Meude-Monpas, but we do know that he was born in Paris and was a musketeer in the service of French king Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette - when he wasn't composing and writing books on music. Also active in Paris was Guadeloupe-born Saint-Georges, son of an aristocratic French plantation owner and an African slave. The dashing Saint-Georges (who graces the disc's cover) was a champion swordsman and extraordinary athlete, as well as a violin virtuoso. In 1792, he was appointed colonel and commander of an all-Black military regiment of French Caribbeans and former American slaves.
Cuba's Joseph White was born to a French businessman and an Afro-Cuban mother. A concert sensation in Europe and Latin America, White's violin playing was admired by the finest musicians of his day, including the great opera composer Gioacchino Rossini, who wrote, "The warmth of your execution, the feeling, the elegance, the brilliance of the school to which you belong, show the qualities in you as an artist of which the French school may be proud." When White performed in the US in 1876, one music critic called him "The best violinist who has visited this country . . ."
England's Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, the son of a physician from Sierra Leone and an Englishwoman, was esteemed in the US, especially among cultured African-Americans. His circle of American admirers included Booker T. Washington. The Coleridge-Taylor Society, a Black choral group, was founded in his honor in 1901. He visited the US several times and was a White House guest of President Theodore Roosevelt. His idol was famed Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, who encouraged the use of ethnic folk music, including Negro spirituals. Accordingly, Coleridge-Taylor incorporated elements of Black spirituals into many of his later works (although not the piece on this disc).
The CD booklet says the support of a European parent gave each of these mixed-race musicians access to formal educational and social opportunities unavailable to their African relations: "Excellent training and remarkable talents allowed these artists to take full advantage of a rare opening in the social fabric, yet they remained exotic and exceptional."
"What may surprise people is that you don't hear an obvious African influence in these pieces," James Ginsburg, the CD's producer, observes. "The composers approached Western music on its own terms and succeeded in creating outstanding works that show a personal imprint within the mainstream styles of their times."
"FROM COMMODITY TO CREATOR:
THE SEARCH FOR SOCIAL EQUALITY THROUGH CULTURAL VIRTUOSITY"
By Mark Clague
Scholars have identified two possible and markedly contrasting
derivations for the term "concerto." Each of these has
resonance for the musical and social parameters that surrounded
the creation of the works on this recording. One school of thought
emphasizes the contentious juxtaposition of soloist and ensemble
by tracing the term to the Latin verb "concertare," meaning
"to fight" or "to contend." Indeed, the concertos
recorded here were and remain social weapons - tools created by
their authors of mixed African and European descent to carve out
a niche in a society of uncertain expectations.
A second line of reasoning traces the term through a variant spelling,
"conserto," to the root verb "conserere," which
in Latin means "to join together." This derivation highlights
the partnership between soloist and orchestra and by extension,
composer and society. The goal of these four compositions was not
revolution, but to create a place for social others within the existing
fabric. The success of these compositions, therefore, rested not
in a militant assertion of African sounds and symbols, but in their
ability to seamlessly adopt the traditions and tropes of the Western
European concert tradition. None of these works use African-derived
melodies or rhythmic signatures. What these works do accomplish
is to establish through cultural excellence the essential humanness
of a race often reduced to commodity status by the slave trade.
To be a composer was to be a creator, an artist, and a slave to
no one. This is great music, stylistically similar to the violin
masterworks of Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Wieniawski, or Sibelius.
But these works are not simple imitations; they confront the Classical
tradition and extend it, revealing the creative personality that
is the artist and composer.
Although history has focused attention upon slavery and racial discrimination
in the United States, the enslavement of Africans began in Western
European society before it began in the colonies. In the fifteenth
century, Portugese traders introduced slaves to Spain. Eventually
the Dutch, French, Danish, Swedish, and English would participate
in the commodification of this human cargo. Although there were
many fewer blacks in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Western
Europe than in the U.S., and thus racial conflict may have been
less acute, blacks in Europe still faced a culture of discrimination.
Each of the composers represented on this recording were of mixed
African and European descent. Supported by their European parent,
these individuals gained access to educational and social opportunities
unavailable to their African relations. Excellent training and remarkable
talents allowed these artists to take full advantage of a rare opening
in the social fabric, yet they remained exotic and exceptional.
The concerto strikes at one of the core values in Western European
musical aesthetics: virtuosity. While in its beginnings during the
Baroque, the concerto featured a small ensemble or concertino group
as often as the individual, by the Classical period the term came
to signify a work for solo instrumentalist and orchestra. The uncommon
skill and accomplishment of these black artists allowed them to
give musical voice to their ideas. Whether in reference to technical
skill or poetic expression, to performance acumen or compositional
genius, virtuosity serves to focus attention upon the exceptional
The inspiration for this recording began in 1992 when the Civic
Orchestra of Chicago and its conductor, Michael Morgan, asked Ms.
Barton to perform Meude-Monpas's Concerto No. 4 in D Major as part
of a concert of music by black composers. Programmed alongside premieres
of twentieth-century American works by Ed Bland, Gary Powell Nash,
and Henry Heard, as well as Hale Smith's Innerflextions and Alvin
Singleton's Sinfonia Diaspora, the eighteenth-century violin concerto
sparked Ms. Barton's interest in the possibility of discovering
other unknown European Classical gems. With the help of Dominique-René
de Lerma, a leading authority on black music, she became aware of
a small but select group of black violin virtuosi active over the
past two and a half centuries: Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799),
George Bridgetower (1780-1860), to whom Beethoven originally dedicated
his Kreutzer Sonata, Joseph White (1835-1918), and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
(1875-1912), who played the violin but was better known as a conductor
and composer. Although it is likely that he too was a performer,
too little is known about Le Chevalier J.J.O. de Meude-Monpas to
be certain. Two American black virtuosi also deserve mention, Joseph
Douglass (1871-1935), grandson of author and abolitionist Frederick
Douglass, and Clarence Cameron White (1880-1960) who studied violin
with Douglass and composition with Coleridge-Taylor. Many considered
C.C. White the leading black violinist of the early twentieth century.
According to music scholar Gabriel Banat, little might be known
of the exploits of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges if not for his
undisputed prowess with a foil. While the composer's biographers
were prone to elaborate mythologizing, the chroniclers of Saint-Georges
the fencing master were much more precise and trustworthy. Born
in 1745, Saint-Georges inherited his name and title from his father,
Joseph Jean-Marie Boulogne, a noble French plantation owner. Saint-George's
mother, Nanon, was an African slave from the island of Guadeloupe
in the Antilles. Nothing is known of his early musical training,
but Saint-Georges was given the broad Classical training of a European
nobleman that undoubtedly included musical study. It was not unusual
that this child of a slave would be accepted as his own by his white
father. According to André Maurois, "It was customary
that colons return to France with their sons of semi-African blood,
leaving their daughters in the islands."
In 1755, M. de Boulogne de Saint-Georges returned with his 10-year-old
son to Paris. The boy may have studied violin with Jean-Marie Leclair
and Françoise Joseph Gossec, but the first reliable evidence
of his musical career dates from 1769 when he became concertmaster
of Gossec's orchestra, the Concert des Amateurs. Based upon the
dedication of Saint-Georges's trios, Gossec, an important figure
in the development of the French symphony, is considered to have
been his composition teacher. When Gossec left to direct the Concert
Spirituel in 1773, Saint-Georges assumed the leadership of the orchestra
and dedicated himself to a career in music. In 1776, Saint-Georges
joined forces with "a consortium of capitalists," aspiring
to become co-director of the Academie Royale de Musique, later known
as the Paris Opéra. He lost the chance for the position when
three ladies in the company petitioned the queen for his rejection,
claiming their honor would be compromised if they had to take orders
from a mulatto. While little-known today, Saint-Georges was a prominent
musician and popular performer in his day. Composers such as Gossec,
Karl Stamitz, Antonio Lolli, and J. Avolio dedicated compositions
to the virtuoso. Including eight operas, ten violin concertos, and
115 songs, the more than 236 compositions credited to Saint-Georges
give some indication of his impact upon the Parisian music scene.
Saint-Georges was especially influential in the development of the
Sinfonie Concertante, a genre featuring multiple soloists, usually
two violinists, and orchestra.
As with all of his concerti, Saint-Georges's Concerto for Violin
in A Major, Op. 5, No. 2 (ca. 1775) serves as a bridge from the
virtuosic works of Baroque violinist/composers such as Corelli,
Locatelli, and Tartini, to those of nineteenth-century virtuosi
such as Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski. Although influenced by the more
conservative writing of the Mannheim symphonists such as Johann
Stamitz, Saint-Georges was both a performer and a showman. His virtuosic
emphasis of the upper register, for example, extends five pitches
higher than any of Mozart's (exactly contemporaneous) violin concerti.
Saint-Georges also took full advantage of recent developments in
bow technology to emphasize fleeting and precise passagework. Around
1750, French bow makers including Thomas Dodd the elder and Françoise
Tourte l'aîné inverted the usual curve of the bow,
forming a concave shape that produced stronger and more aggressive
tones in the upper portions of the bow.
Following the traditional fast-slow-fast plot, Saint-George's concerto
is in three movements. By far the longest movement, the opening
Allegro Moderato is in a modified sonata form that lacks a recurring
first theme stated unequivocally in the tonic key. While melodic
ideas are repeated and passed from orchestra to soloist and back,
Saint-Georges seems to possess a limitless melodic imagination.
His melodies are often in two markedly contrasting four-measure
segments whose distinct personalities are underscored by shifts
from soft to loud. His writing is vigorous and intended to maximize
virtuosic impact. Rather than develop small melodic ideas into larger
ones, Saint-Georges provides a series of independent melodies. The
orchestral motif that begins the piece, for example, never comes
back. Likewise, the soloist's initial melody is not prefigured by
the orchestra as would be typical in Mozart's concerti (although
that theme does return in the recapitulation). The soloist is also
the only musician to play triplets in this movement. Throughout
the work, orchestra and soloist retain their distinct melodic identities,
sharing some material but also claiming certain motifs as uniquely
their own. It is really a duo concerto for soloist and orchestra.
One of the orchestra's signature motifs is based on the medieval
hocket or "hiccup" technique of alternating a motive between
two instrumental voices, in this case an off-beat figure bouncing
between first and second violins. Excepting brief turns to the minor
mode and some chromatic passagework, Saint-Georges's harmonies are
straightforward. He makes wonderful use of texture, balancing melody
and accompaniment with polyphonic interplay and unison writing.
Lilting triplets from the orchestra announce a shift in character
for the second movement, a Largo which, despite its somber mood,
is in the key of D major. Again Saint-Georges strikes a remarkable
balance between unity and variety in this lyric interlude. Tying
this movement to the previous is the soloist's theme which, as in
the first movement, begins with a long held note that blossoms into
a lyric gesture. Saint-Georges borrows a technique from the Baroque
concerto grosso by frequently restricting his accompanying ensemble
to a small treble group of violins. The bass instruments' return
creates a powerful sense of depth and variety within the limited
context of an all-string orchestra.
The Rondeau form is perfectly suited to Saint-Georges's gift for
melodic invention. An opening eight-measure theme serves as a recurring
touchstone for the composer's melodic fantasies and vibrant sense
of humor. As with the second movement cadenza, each of the Eingangen
or improvised melodic introductions recorded here were composed
by Ms. Barton based upon themes from within the movement or from
stylistically appropriate ornamental devices. The final movement
brings the virtuoso display to a dramatic crescendo - a display
that Ms. Barton intensifies with additional ornamentation, especially
The only comprehensive evidence that survives concerning the life
and work of the Chevalier J.J.O. de Meude-Monpas is in his music.
Eileen Southern's groundbreaking biographical research into black
composers reveals only that Meude-Monpas was a musketeer in the
service of Louis XVI of France who went into exile with the onset
of the French Revolution. The eighteenth-century composer was born
in Paris and died in Berlin, but his precise dates remain unknown.
He studied music in Paris with Pierre La Houssaye and Françoise
Giroust and published six concertos for violin (1786) as well as
two books on music. While written only about eleven years after
the Saint-Georges concerto and in a similar French Classical idiom,
the stylistic gulf that separates the two is impressive. The later
concerto lacks much of the virtuosic fire of the Saint-Georges,
but evokes a broader range of emotion and dramatic intensity. Meude-Monpas's
use of wind instruments in the orchestra also produces a markedly
different overall effect. Yet, both concerti are constructed in
much the same manner. Both have three movements: an allegro, a slow
movement, and a rondo. Both lack the traditional first movement
cadenzas of the German tradition, but contain opportunities for
improvisation in the second movement. Their broad structural similarities
likely represent an historically elusive French concerto tradition,
yet the many more subtle parallels in the treatment of themes suggest
the possibility that Meude-Monpas might have known the work of Saint-Georges.
In both first movements, for example, the use of triplet figures
in the solo part set against an immutable duple accompaniment seems
more than coincidental.
The opening Allegro of Meude-Monpas's fourth concerto makes dramatic
use of silence, likely under the influence of the early symphonists.
The whole concerto reveals a polish of craft and a fine attention
to orchestration. Here, the soloist and orchestra are partners,
not competitors. The orchestral writing is so clear and unencumbered
that the soloist never gets lost within the din of the musical argument.
While not indulging in a show of technical difficulty, Meude-Monpas
still allows the soloist to shine - he increases the violinist's
range beyond even Saint-George's concerto, for example, by using
ever higher pitches to highlight his themes. While limited to the
four-square melodic phrases of the Classical style, Meude-Monpas
gives the illusion of a more lyric, almost romantic sensibility.
Saint-Georges used dynamics to add contrast, but Meude-Monpas blends
each phrase into its successor producing eight measure paragraphs
with pairs of four measure sentences. Frequent internal repetitions
invite the soloist to add echo effects which help draw the listener
into the work.
In the second movement, Adagio, the composer makes use of strong
dynamic contrast primarily as an emotional resource. The halting
quality of the slow dotted rhythms followed by rests sets up a melodic
tension that drives into suddenly loud descents. Meude-Monpas also
uses soft pianissimo markings to advantage, understating rather
than overstating his dramatic conception. The lively Rondo: Allegretto
Poco Presto serves as a cathartic foil to the pathos of the middle
movement. Its skipping staccato theme is first presented by the
soloist and only then imitated by the orchestra. The movement develops
into a five-part structure, ABACA, in which the A section/rondo
theme is repeated verbatim. The B section features the violin soloist
while the C section includes some of the only polyphonic interplay
in the work. Here the orchestra takes over the melodic role, while
the soloist presents a rapid-fire and arpeggiated countermelody.
Born in Matanzas, Cuba to a French businessman and Afro-Cuban mother,
José Silvestre de Los Dolores White y Lafitte (Joseph White)
made his public debut at age 18 performing a fantasy on themes from
Rossini's William Tell along with two pieces of his own. His accompanist
was the most celebrated North American pianist and composer of the
day, Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869). Gottschalk encouraged
White to pursue further training in Paris and raised the money to
send him there. Overcoming 60 rival applicants to the Paris Conservatoire,
White won the opportunity to study with Jean-Delphin Alard, the
pre-eminent master of the French school of violin playing, as well
as Henri Reber and Ferdinand Taite. In 1856, he won the Prix de
Rome in Violin and two years later began touring Europe, the Caribbean,
South America, and Mexico. Gioacchino Rossini, living in France
in retirement, wrote a letter of praise to the young virtuoso dated
November 28, 1858: "The warmth of your execution, the feeling,
the elegance, the brilliance of the school to which you belong,
show qualities in you as an artist of which the French school may
While living in Madrid in 1863, White was awarded the Order of Isabella
la Catòlica by the Spanish court. White taught at the Paris
Conservatoire from 1864-65 as a temporary replacement for Alard,
and his Six études pour violon, op. 13 were approved as standard
teaching materials for the school. He made his U.S. debut during
the 1875-76 season, performing two concerts with the Theodore Thomas
orchestra in New York. A reviewer at a Boston recital that same
year exclaimed, "His style is perfection itself, his bowing
is superb, and his tone exquisite.... His execution is better than
Ole Bull's, he possesses more feeling than Wieniawski, the volume
of his tone is greater than that of Vieuxtemps." For about
ten years, White worked for the Imperial Court in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil, but he resettled in Paris in 1891 where he spent the remainder
of his life. Approximately thirty two of his works have survived
in published and or manuscript form.
Composed in 1864, at the beginning of White's touring career, the
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in F-sharp Minor follows the standard
three movement plan: Allegro, Adagio ma non troppo, and Allegro
moderato. Although quite colorful and sonorous, the choice of F-sharp
minor for a violin concerto is curious. F-sharp is a rare, but not
unheard of, key for violin concertos. In fact, White's choice may
signal a competitive stance toward two of his contemporaries, composer/virtuosi
who also authored concerti in this key in the early 1850s: Heinrich
Wilhelm Ernst (1814-1865) and Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880). White
himself performed the solo part for his concerto's 1867 premiere
in Paris. A critic described the piece as "one of the best
modern works of its kind... The fabric is excellent, the basic thematic
ideas are carefully distinguished, the harmonies are elegant and
clear, and the orchestration is written by a secure hand, free from
error. One feels the presence of a strong and individual nature
from the start. Not a single note exists for mere virtuosity, although
the performance difficulties are enormous." The work's American
premiere did not occur until 1974, when violinist Ruggiero Ricci
performed the concerto with the Symphony of the New World, Kermit
Moore conducting, in New York's Avery Fisher Hall.
Written after Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) had redefined
the standards of violin performance, White's concerto is by far
the most virtuosic of the works on this recording: frequent double
stops often in parallel octaves and rippling arpeggios that traverse
the entire range of the violin in just a few beats characterize
the work. The opening movement is in a straightforward sonata form.
The first theme appears at the onset of the work in the orchestral
violins' melody while the second theme is presented initially by
the clarinet. White's treatment of the development section is rather
ingenious as he imitates the sparse and free recitative texture
of opera, resulting in a spontaneous and dramatic cadenza-like delivery.
The coda's simple horn melody helps relax the aggressive virtuosity
of the first movement and sets up the beginning of the second movement,
which follows without a break. Cast in an ABA ternary form, the
Adagio ma non troppo features a lyric violin melody characterized
by wide leaps and angular rhythms that enliven the slow tempo. The
central Animato section adds intensity and drama to the argument
before the return of the A theme. The rolling grace of the cadenza's
passagework belies its difficulty. An ethnically-flavored, almost
Hungarian or gypsy-like theme for the rondo finale propels the listener
on a journey through a series of enchanting dances, culminating
in a bombardment of virtuosic cadential pyrotechnics.
Although he was born in Holborn, near London, and lived in the English
town of Croydon, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor became increasingly involved
in racial politics in the United States as a symbol of the New Negro,
a full cultural and social participant in American life. In 1905,
Booker T. Washington hailed Coleridge-Taylor as "the foremost
musician of his race" and "an inspiration to the Negro,
since he himself, the child of an African father [from Sierra Leone],
is an embodiment of what are the possibilities of the Negro under
favorable environment." Although Coleridge-Taylor became aware
of African-American musics in 1897 and often followed Dvorák's
call to include melodies from Negro spirituals in his work, the
Romance appears to bear no relationship to black musical materials.
While not remembered primarily for his violin playing, Coleridge-Taylor
presented the premiere of his Romance in G Major, Op. 39 in the
year of its composition (1899) accompanied by his wife, Jessie,
at the piano.
Written in one continuous movement, the work eschews technical display
in favor of lush harmonic and melodic beauty. The virtuosity of
this work is compositional, rather than instrumental. The Romance
is by far the most harmonically sophisticated and thematically complex
composition of the four included here. To help sustain his lengthy
and slow melodic essay, Coleridge-Taylor adopts one of the strongest
and most economical musical forms: sonata form. Theme one appears
in the violin solo at the beginning of the work. Following an extended
transition that modulates to D major (the dominant of G) through
both B major and B-flat major, the composer presents theme two in
the solo voice using double stops (two pitches performed simultaneously).
A faster Animato section presents the development in which theme
one is transformed into a stormy motive primarily through acceleration
and melodic ornamentation. The orchestra restates theme two briefly
before the recapitulation presents both themes through the voice
of the solo violin. A short coda reiterates the first theme in a
gesture of apotheosis that brings the work to a close in the upper
reaches of the violin's tessitura.
Mark Clague is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Musicology and
Music History at The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and Executive
Editor of Music of the United States of America (MUSA), a series
of scholarly editions of American music administered by the American
Musicological Society and funded by the National Endowment for the
Banat, Gabriel. "Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Man of Music
and Gentleman-at-Arms: The Life and Times of an Eighteenth-Century
Prodigy." Black Music Research Journal. 10, no. 2 (Fall, 1990):
de Lerma, Dominique-René. "Black Composers in Europe:
A Works List." Black Music Research Journal. 10, no. 2 (Fall,
Floyd, Samuel, editor. International Dictionary of Black Composers.
(forthcoming) Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998.
Green, Jeffrey. "'The Foremost Musician of His Race': Samuel
Coleridge-Taylor of England, 1875-1912." Black Music Research
Journal. 10, no. 2 (Fall, 1990): 233-252.
Southern, Eileen. Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African
Musicians. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982.
Wright, Josephine. "Violinist José White in Paris, 1855-1875."
Black Music Research Journal. 10, no. 2 (Fall, 1990): 213-232.
Concertos by Meude-Monpas and Saint-Georges: forthcoming editions
by Rachel Barton.
White: Concerto in F# minor: orchestral score and parts are available
from Kermit Moore, New York, NY. Violin and piano score published
by Belwin Mills, Miami FL.
Coleridge-Taylor: Romance in G Major: Orchestral score and parts,
and score for violin and piano are available from the Fleischer
Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia, PA.
About the Violin
Rachel Barton plays the ex-Lobkowicz Antonius & Hieronymous
Amati of Cremona, 1617, on generous loan from her patron.
The Seal of the Lobkowicz Family on the back of the violin identifies
it as one of the instruments held by this illustrious European family.
Prince Lobkowicz was a significant patron of Beethoven.
The Amati family is responsible for the violin as we know it today.
Andreas Amati invented the violin c. 1550. His sons Antonius and
Hieronymous, known as the Brothers Amati, brought violin making
forward into the 17th century. Hieronymous's son Nicolo continued
to nearly the end of the 17th century and was the teacher of Andreas
Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari.
The violin Miss Barton plays is a particularly fine example of
the makers' work and is excellently preserved. The top is formed
from two pieces of spruce showing fine grain broadening toward the
flanks. The back is formed from two pieces of semi-slab cut maple
with narrow curl ascending slightly from left to right. The ribs
and the original scroll are of similar stock. The varnish is golden-brown
"An enchanting look at four virtuosic composers
Barton has recorded a gem."
"Compelling scores by four little-known composers who happen
to be black
Rachel Barton handles the concertos' varied demands
with unaffected aplomb, performing this music lovingly rather than
New York Times
"Terrific performances; fine sound. A fascinating issue."
"A fascinating collection... Chicago native Rachel Barton Pine,
still in her early 20s, plays magnificently throughout, equal to
both the demands for white-hot technique, as in the White Concerto,
and for beauty of tone, as in the Coleridge-Taylor."
The Absolute Sound
"Barton, Hege, and [the Encore Chamber Orchestra] deliver
attractive and involving performances with a Mozartean mix of subtlety
Artistic Quality 10/10 Sound Quality
"A disc you should not miss."
"Chicago violinist Rachel Barton struck a rich musical lode
when she went digging for obscure repertoire by black composers
Barton, 23, gives radiant new life to each forgotten composition."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Beautifully recorded, beautifully performed
Barton's performance is exemplary."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Music of great charm and elegance, rendered with sensitivity
and stylish bravura by Barton."
"Barton's sure-handed, spontaneous and highly expressive performance
would be more than enough to earn her leading status in the under-30
generation of American violinists. The stylistic flexibility she
displays in the rest of the album moves her to the very front of
"A fascinating collection of pieces deserving to be heard
more than they have
Barton performs splendidly."
The Schenectady Gazette
"Barton brings a glowing, luxurious tone and expansive phrasing
to [the concertos'] flashy passage-work. Under Daniel Hege the orchestra
knocks out its accompaniments with equal fervor. Joseph Smith's
Violin Concerto in F-sharp minor is especially strong."
The Newark Star Ledger
"Barton's luminous tone and world-class technique are especially
vivid in the White concertos with all of its virtuoso licks, and
she shines as a Classical stylist in the Meude-Monpas and Saint-Georges
"A journey of discovery that will afford immense pleasure
from the brilliant performance by the soloist and the magnificence
of the music
Barton has the supreme gift of playing virtuoso
music in a way that furthers the composers' intent and not just
her own image."
International African to American Music Society
"In one of the bolder moves in the classical music business
this past year, Barton has unveiled a treasure chest of worthy material
on her new album
Ms. Barton's talent is, by now, no secret
and her bow work on this album is the stuff of pre-legendary status.
Her technical mastery is without question some of the best we are
going to hear in our generation. When the score calls for fancy
fingerwork, she has few rivals. Her crisp, enunciated delivery leaves
many gasping with disbelief."
Chicago College News
"Four very attractive works
Ms. Barton has all the technique
one could wish, but it is music she makes."
Classical New Jersey