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Rachel Barton Pine comes to NCC


When: 8 p.m. April 30

Where: Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville

How much: $35 to $40

Contact: 630-6370-7469 or

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Chicago violinist Rachel Barton Pine returns to Naperville in a program honoring famed composer Franz Liszt.

Barton Pine will appear April 30 at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall accompanied by pianist Matthew Hagle. The program includes renditions of Liszt’s “La lugubre Gondola” “Grand Duo Concertante,” as well as “Die drei Zigeuner,” “Elegy No. 1” and “Elegy No. 2;” as well as Leos Janacek’s “Sonata;” and Maurice Ravel’s “Tzigane.”

“Franz Liszt is having his anniversary year in 2011; it’s the 200th anniversary of his birth. There are all kinds of celebrations of his life and his music going on throughout the year,” Barton Pine said. “But there’s a slice of his output that’s virtually unknown, and that is his original compositions for violin. Most people think of Liszt as a composer for piano, and occasionally for orchestra. Most people don’t realize he wrote music for violin.”

Barton Pine made her solo debut at age 7 and has worked with numerous famous conductors, including Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Placido Domingo and Charles Dutoit. She has performed throughout the world in such music hot spots as Montreal, Vienna and Budapest.

She was at NCC a few years ago with a Vivaldi program and is happy to be returning for two engagements. The night before, she will perform with her heavy metal band, Earthen Grave.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if there are the same people in the audience for both. The fact that the metal band is the first concert gives me the opportunity to see if there are college kids or other folks that come to that show,” she said.

“I’m certainly going to encourage them to come back the next night. I’ll encourage them to try out the other genre — it’s at least as exciting as metal, in my opinion.”

In May, she will release “Capricho Latino,” a collection of unaccompanied virtuoso pieces from Spain and Latin America.

“That’s a very cool and specific repertoire that’s not a part of this program,” she said. “In classical music, the albums we release tend to be centered on a particular repertoire concept and we don’t necessarily tour with that program.”

Her 17th and most recent concerto album, her performance of the Glazunov Violin Concerto, recorded with the Russian National Orchestra, was released recently on Warner Classics.

This concert will be almost entirely a tribute to Liszt, however.

“We’re going to be presenting five pieces that really span the range of his compositional output,” she said. “Some of them are really serious chamber music pieces from the end of his life when he was very influenced by the new French Impressionistic music. One of the pieces falls into the category of music that was inspired by his Hungarian heritage — ‘Die drei Zigeuner’ or ‘The Three Gypsies.’ It has a lot of elements of gypsy fiddling, which is always very fun for listeners.

The second half of the program builds on some of Liszt’s music and interests. The sonata by Leos Janacek — a composer from Eastern Europe who follows in Liszt’s footsteps — takes some of Liszt’s stylistic elements a step further, she said.

Ravel was a French Impressionistic composer, “So you have an element of French Impressionism, which he was so interested in at the end of his life, along with some really wild, gypsy fiddling,” she said. “‘Tzigane’” is a piece that is very beloved by fans of the violin and is one of the most fun and appealing pieces in the violin repertoire.”

As much as she loves soloing with orchestras — “There’s nothing more exciting than having an entire symphony backing you up” — she’s still a guest of their show featured on one piece of the program. In a recital, she’s free to choose the repertoire and control the pacing of the evening. She’s responsible for the entire program, something she finds very rewarding, she said.

“As wonderful as it is to hear the full colors of an entire orchestra, people get to know the violin on a much more intimate level when it’s just violin and piano,” she said. “The violin is in the spotlight the whole time. It brings people closer to understanding what violin can do and really feel connected to the emotions the violin is creating.”

While Barton Pine is noted for writing her own cadenzas within the concerto repertoire, in a recital context she doesn’t play her own compositions, she said.

“Exploring composing … has given me a whole set of insights that I would never have had when I am playing music written by somebody else,” she said. “Seeing what Liszt did with his violin parts for example … it really opens your eyes. I definitely feel like being a composer has made me a more effective interpreter, and playing in a metal band has made me a more effective performer and communicator.”

Whether or not you see Barton Pine paying homage to one of the great composers or banging her head to a raucous beat, she gives her all in every performance.

“Even though classical is a different art form, the lessons I’ve learned performing as a rock musician has increased my effectiveness as a communicator no matter what music I’m playing onstage,” she said. “And the basic lesson is, anything you do with music will improve you as a musician and enhances your ability to your best at everything you do with music.”

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