American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell
Beautiful Victorian-era pieces arranged by and dedicated to America’s first internationally renowned violinist, Maud Powell
Beautiful Victorian-era pieces arranged by and dedicated to America’s first internationally renowned violinist, Maud Powell.
Beach: Romance, Op. 23
Grainger: Molly on the Shore
Dvorak: Songs My Mother Sang
Sibelius: Musette from King Christian II
Bauer: Up the Ocklawaha, Op. 6
Chopin: “Minute” Waltz, Op. 64, No. 1
Palmgren: May Night
Coleridge-Taylor: Deep River, Op. 59, No. 10
Dvorak: Humoreske, Op. 101, No. 7
Danks: Silver Threads Among the Gold
Bellstedt, Jr.: Caprice on Dixie
Gilbert: Marionettes (Scherzo)
Burleigh: Four Rocky Mountain Sketches, Op. 11
Massenet: Twilight (Crespuscule) from Poemes Pastorale
Liebling: Fantasia on Sousa Themes
Johnson: Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
CEDILLE RECORDS: CDR 90000 097
AMERICAN VIRTUOSA: TRIBUTE TO MAUD POWELL
RACHEL BARTON PINE, VIOLIN
MATTHEW HAGLE, PIANO
To my husband, with love. Thank you for being my Godfrey “Sunny” Turner on our many journeys and musical adventures.
Producer: Judith Sherman
Engineer: Bill Maylone
Graphic Design: Melanie Germond
Cover Painting: Maud Powell (1918-1919) by Nicholas Richard Brewer. Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Joyce McFarland Dlugopolski (in memory of George A. Doole, Jr.) and the Maud Powell Society for Music and Education. NPG.2001.74
Photos of Rachel Barton Pine by Andrew Eccles
Photos of Maud Powell courtesy of the Maud Powell Society for Music and Education
Recorded October 3, 4, 5, and November 1, 2006 at WFMT Chicago
Violin: “ex-Soldat” Guarneri del Gesu, Cremona, 1742
Strings: Vision by Thomastik-Infeld
Luthier (violin technician): Paul Becker
Piano Technician: Charles Terr
Mutes used on the recording:
La Fleurie by François Couperin (wooden mute), Twilight by Jules Massenet (rubber “Spector” mute), Musette by Jean Sibelius (leather mute). All mutes from the collection of Fred Spector.
I’m frequently asked to name my favorite violinist. It’s virtually impossible — each of us has strengths and weaknesses. I admire certain performances and certain aspects of many players, and I draw inspiration from many violinists past and present. However, the violinist I most admire is definitely Maud Powell.
Despite being an avid researcher of violin music and history, I had never heard of Maud Powell until Karen Shaffer sent me a copy of Maud’s biography in 1995. I was fascinated to read about her remarkable and inspirational life. Reading on planes and in hotel rooms, I learned how she became the greatest American violinist in the late 1800s and early 1900s while also breaking so many social stereotypes: choosing to dedicate her life to her career; leading a string quartet of men; championing music by contemporary composers, American composers, women composers, and Black composers; and introducing classical music to numerous new listeners. She is often in the back of my mind today as I perform works by contemporary, women, and Black composers; as I perform rock and classical music in non-traditional venues; and as I give benefit concerts, support young string players, and strive for improvement and greater understanding in all of my interpretations.
Why is Maud Powell not better known today? I believe there are several contributing factors. Unlike Leopold Auer, she didn’t leave a pedagogical legacy. While Maud was committed to music education and encouraged every young violinist who came to her for advice, her touring schedule was too intense to maintain a teaching studio. Unlike Heifetz, she didn’t live into the electric recording era. And, unlike Wieniawski or Kreisler, she never wrote any original compositions.
After finishing her biography, I began learning some of her repertoire — works that she premiered, arranged, or recorded, and works written for her. Many of these gems have become staples of my recital programs. At the end of my recent performance in Washington, DC, Leonard Slatkin commented, “This music is wonderful! Maud Powell really was the female Fritz Kreisler.” Had I thought more quickly, I should have responded, “Actually, Kreisler was the male Maud Powell.” After all, Maud came first and was admired by Kreisler and all of his generation.
This album represents a slice of late Nineteenth–early Twentieth Century repertoire rarely heard these days. Miniature jewels like Humoreske, May Night, or Minute Waltz have an individual character that must be defined and demand a significant investment of the performer’s personality. Slower melodic works, such as those by Venth, Huss, and Johnson, call for indulgence in expressive shifts and creative rubato. The tone-painting of Burleigh and Bauer still sounds fresh a century later, and the Sousa Airs and Caprice on Dixie are brilliant American alternatives to the usual Carmen Fantasies and Paganini Caprices.
I hope this recording will open your ears to some masterful compositions, beautiful arrangements, and the art of one of the greatest violinists ever. I also hope that through this CD, the forthcoming printed collection of Maud’s music, the second edition of her biography, the reissues of her own recordings, and information posted onwww.maudpowell.org, Maud Powell will finally receive the recognition she deserves as an artist and role model.
“Rachel Barton Pine and Cedille recall the glorious era of the headline-inducing violin recital, the art of the arrangement and transcription, and the thrill of virtuoso performance for its own sake… A true celebration of the violin.” – ClassicsToday.com
It is high time someone recorded such a beautiful tribute to an unsung hero of American classical music! Thank you for sharing this tribute with us. Best wishes. – Brady
This recording is just plain fun! Rachel Barton Pine is one of my favorite young violinists, and this may be my favorite of her albums! Not only is the music exceptionally well chosen, Mrs. Pine’s performances are top-notch across the board. As usual, her technique is wonderful. And the musicality of the performances leaves nothing to be desired. Just listen to the sweetness of her playing in Amy Beach’s Romance! I can listen to this one track over and over and not become bored. Then contrast the fiery virtuosity Pine exhibits in Bellstedt’s Caprice on Dixie. Just wonderful! Let’s just say this disc is going to remain in my CD player for a long time! Highly, highly recommended. –Arthur W. Haule, III (Amazon.com customer)
This is a very satisfying recording that you will enjoy listening to over and over. The primary reason I purchased this audio CD was to hear the “Dixie” track. To my delight I found the other tracks just as unique and pleasing. This is a virtuosa performance and even though a number of the songs are American standards it is not “light” music. You will marvel at the interpretations. This has a definite place in your classical music library. – J. Yingling (Amazon.com customer)