Violin has history

its player now part of it

October 19, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN - Soloist Rachel Barton Pine performed Brahms' "Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77" on the same violin that Johannes Brahms chose for a young woman "in his inner circle."

Pine was the soloist Saturday during the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's first MasterWorks concert of the season.

Her 1742 Guarneri violin, "ex-Soldat," was the same one chosen by Brahms for Marie Soldat, who studied under Brahms in the 19th century. Before the show, Pine said she felt honored to play the same violin and the same concerto that Soldat would go on to master.

Music director and conductor Elizabeth Schulze said the piece is challenging because at times the soloist has to strike all four strings at once - easier done on a piano, Brahms' instrument of choice.

Pine said that it also is different from other concertos of the time because it gave the soloist and orchestra equal footing.


"You're not playing your normal old violin concerto that you can practice in your room and play on stage with the orchestra as your backup band," Pine said.

Pine gave a surprise performance of a piece that wasn't on the program Saturday. Just before intermission, Pine played what she called "variations on an Icelandic children's song."

"Think of it as the Icelandic version of 'Chopsticks,'" Pine said.

The MSO opened with the prelude to Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nrnberg." Schulze said Wagner and Brahms were contemporaries who were vying to be the next Beethoven.

"They would be spinning in their graves if they knew the were on the same program," Schulze said.

The orchestra ended with Dvorak's "Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88."

Rachel Melo, 23, of Silver Spring, Md., attended the concert with family. She said she was awestruck by Pine's performance and that the back story made it even more special.

"I don't really know much about music, but that was really captivating," Melo said just after intermission.

Wendy Winters, of Hagerstown, said she likes to bring her daughters, Kelsey and Sarah, to see the MSO play. Kelsey Winters, 12, plays the clarinet. Her private tutor, Michael Hoover, plays clarinet for the MSO.

"That would be fun, being on stage," Kelsey said.

If you go

What: MasterWorks I, "Masters of Melody," presented by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra

When: Sunday, 3 p.m.

Where: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

Cost: $22 to $49 for adults; $12 to $25 for children 12 and younger and full-time students. Tickets will be available Sunday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

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