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A pair of folk-inspired concertos from Rachel Barton Pine / KDFC: State of the Arts

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KDFC: State of the Arts with Jeff Weyr

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine says the concertos she's paired on her most recent recording are often overlooked, since they aren't learned and performed as frequently as Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, or Brahms. But Antonin Dvorak and Aram Khachaturian‘s concertos are great works, which were influenced by the folk traditions of their homelands.

"Both of them have been part of my life since I was a teenager," Pine says. "I had learned all of the normal concertos, like Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, etc. and it was time to delve into the…I hate to say ‘B list,' because they're great quality, but you know, the ones that aren't like THE most popular, famous ones." Despite the fact that they were written in different eras (1879 and 1940), the two concertos share some features. "Their exciting rhythmic elements, their beautiful melodies, and also the beauty of the orchestration. In Dvorak's case, really lush instrumentation. Romantic sound and wonderful dialogue with the soloist. Both of these composers were very inspired by the folk music, the traditional music of their time and place. Czechoslovakian and Armenian, respectively. And so that, I thought, made them go really well together." Khachaturian's concerto especially might be unfamiliar to listeners, but Pine says it brings together a full range of emotions. "Khachaturian was awaiting the birth of his first child, and so he says he was in a state of joy and just creative flow. And it's so often we hear stories of composers being filled with angst and struggling. But yet his concerto is not just happy happy happy. It has moments of yearning, moments of tragedy, and then of course its wonderful exuberance. Khachaturian can just be very vibrant and crashing cymbals and snaky melismas in the woodwinds creating that very – to our ears – exotic sound effect."

LISTEN TO THE KDFC: San Francisco - State of the Arts INTERVIEW