Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rachel Barton Pine Does Paganini In Anchorage

I just want to at least note this.  We did go to the second concert.  I listened to a couple of the Paganini caprices online, but I wondered how I was going to appreciate all 24. caprices.  Would I count to keep track?  Yes, I'd like it, but if I knew more about them before I went it would be so much better.

That's true, of course, but I needn't have worried.  Barton Pine knows that most people are not Paganini experts.  For the first half, she stopped after every two caprices and talked about Paganini and about the caprices themselves and demonstrated different techniques that the specific caprices would highlight.

The second half there were fewer explanations, but we'd been coached enough in the beginning to be able to listen and watch for the different bowing techniques and other tricks Paganini used to expand what the violin could do.

Paganini was born in 1772 - four years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  What did news reports of the new nation mean to this child prodigy?  The loss of Britain's colony in the New World and the emergence of this new 'democracy' was something he would have known about.  There is even some speculation of his visiting America, but this interesting account of his life says it never happened.

In early 1828 Nicolo began a six and half year tour that started in Vienna and ended in Paris in September 1834. During the two and half year period from August 1828 to February, 1831 he visited some 40 cities in Germany, Bohemia, and Poland. Performances in Vienna, Paris, and London were hailed widely, and his tour in 1832 through England and Scotland made him wealthy.

His playing of tender passages was so beautiful that his audiences often burst into tears, and yet, he could perform with such force and velocity that at Vienna one listener became half crazed and declared that for some days that he had seen the Devil helping the violinist.
Rachel Barton Pine
Also of interest, was Barton Pine's description of her violin which is on loan to her and was  made by Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu in 1742, two years before his death and 40 years before Paganini's birth!  The violin is known as ex-Soldat for one of the violinists who played it - Maria Soldat.  The story includes Brahms and Ludwig Wittgenstein, the philosopher. But that will have to be another post.  I'm sure regular readers can already anticipate the directions that post might take.

It was an incredible evening and the 800 seat Discovery Theater was pretty much full.  It's a theater, while four times the size of the location of the previous night's concert, where every seat gives you a great view and great sound.

And just to end this with a totally different note, here's a link to Rachel Barton Pine playing her version of Metallica's One.   And if you must (and you must) here's Metallica's version.

Final, final note - The picture above was taken at the end of the concert during the standing applause.  The picture below was taken in the lobby while Rachel Barton Pine talked to fans and signed autographs.

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