Album Review: Rachel Barton Pine Plays Dvořák and Khachaturian Violin Concertos

By Miranda Wilson | From the March/April 2020 issue of Strings Magazine

Dvořák and Khachaturian Violin Concertos
Rachel Barton Pine, violin; Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Teddy Abrams, cond. (Avie Records) 


Pairing the violin concertos of Antonín Dvořák and Aram Khachaturian on the same album is an unusual move. But as violinist Rachel Barton Pine explains in her liner notes, coupling two such different works was not her original intention. After a conductor colleague backed out of a planned recording, she found herself with a hall, an orchestra, and a producer. A last-minute decision to record Dvořák and Khachaturian under the baton of Teddy Abrams resulted in this new disc. Though the two compositions are not linked by time period or nationality, they both show the influence of folk music, and Pine makes a persuasive case for juxtaposing them. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra partners perfectly with the soloist, with particularly outstanding solos from the principal horn and trumpet in the Dvořák concerto.

Placing the Khachaturian second on the disc is a wise move, with the fireworks of the last movement providing an excellent closer for an album full of lively color. Pine’s avowed love of heavy metal shows in her dramatic expression of David Oistrakh’s cadenza. Conductor Abrams brings out the best in the orchestra, creating a quicksilver lightness in the string section that is an excellent foil for the soloist’s intensely projecting tone.