Rachel Barton Pine Blues Dialogues:
Music by Black Composers Review
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine has teamed up with pianist Matthew Hagle to bring us Blues Dialogues: Music by Black Composers. Featuring twenty-four tracks of all black composers and several world-premiere recordings: Noel Da Costa’s A Set of Dance Tunes for Solo Violin, Dolores White’s expanded, four-movement version of her Blues Dialogues for solo violin, and Billy Childs’s Incident on Larpenteur Avenue, a single-movement violin sonata exploring the events and impact of the 2016 killing of Philando Castile by a Minnesota police officer. Blues Dialogues is produced by Grammy-nominated producer James Ginsburg and engineered by multiple-Grammy nominee Bill Maylone at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Hall in Evanston, Ill.
Beginning with the first track, Pine’s command of the violin is matchless. Her blues articulation and inflections can be heard with the unaccompanied opening of “Blues (Deliver My Soul).” Her tone is warm, round and clear as she effortlessly spans the range of the violin with ease and perfectionism with her single notes and double stops. Pine’s articulation during the melody is beautiful, as is Hagle’s accompaniment. There are elements of stride in the piano part as Pine floats over top with flurries of notes.
“Suite for Violin & Piano: I. African Dancer” has all the elements the title conjures. Dancing violin figures with intricate rhythms that are certainly influenced by the blues and African rhythms. Pine is fabulous in her performance, with clean and powerful bowing technique to accentuate the lyric section of the Suite, in contrast her staccato and accented passages are aggressive and precise without being abrupt. Her connecting flow is marvelous.
Subsequently, Pine’s RBP Foundation established its Music by Black Composers project, a multi-faceted educational initiative and music repository. Over the last 15 years, Pine and her RBP Foundation are working to collect over 900 works by more than 350 Black composers from the 18th-21st centuries, representing Africa, North and South America, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and Oceania. While reviewing repertoire for the project, Pine re-connected with her youthful embrace of the blues and conceived the Blues Dialogues program.
Rachel Barton Pine
Blues Dialogues: Music by Black Composers
October 19, 2018