US violinist Rachel Barton Pine dazzles in RSNO concert


The RSNO and conductor Kristiina Poska delivered a thrilling performance of music by Copland, Price and Sibelius, featuring the stunning violinist Rachel Barton Pine.

Copland’s Appalachian Spring: a luminous opener

The concert opened with Copland’s Appalachian Spring, a suite of music inspired by the American frontier. Poska led the orchestra with a clear vision and a crisp rhythm, creating a vivid atmosphere of pastoral beauty and folk dance. The soloists, especially flautist Katherine Bryan and clarinettist Yann Ghiro, played with expressive nuance and charm.

rachel barton pine playing violin on stage

Price’s Second Violin Concerto: a rediscovered gem

The highlight of the concert was the Second Violin Concerto by Florence Price, an African-American composer whose music was largely ignored during her lifetime. The concerto is a delightful mix of styles and influences, from classical to jazz, from circus to Hollywood. The solo part is extremely challenging, requiring virtuosic technique and musicality. Rachel Barton Pine, a passionate advocate for Price’s music, rose to the occasion with astonishing skill and charisma. She played with brilliant clarity, infectious energy and captivating emotion. Her encore, a solo-violin arrangement of Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz by Nathan Milstein, was equally impressive and dazzling.

Sibelius’s First Symphony: a powerful finale

The concert ended with Sibelius’s First Symphony, a work of dramatic contrasts and Nordic intensity. Poska drove the symphony with a relentless momentum, highlighting its rich orchestration and sweeping melodies. The orchestra responded with commitment and precision, creating a sound that was both warm and edgy. The symphony culminated in a thrilling climax that left the audience breathless.


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