Instrument of the Devil


Virtuosic encores – Witches’ Dance, Devil’s Trill, Round of the Goblins, Mephisto Waltz, and more



Virtuosic encores – Witches’ Dance, Devil’s Trill, Round of the Goblins, Mephisto Waltz, and more.

Track Listing
Saint-Saens: Danse Macabre, Op. 40
Tartini: Sonata in G Minor, “The Devil’s Trill”
Liszt/Milstein: Mephisto Waltz
Bazzini: Round of the Goblins, Op. 25
Berlioz/Barton-Sinozich: Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath from Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14
De Falla/Kochanski: Dance of Terror from el Amor Brujo
Ernst: Grand Caprice on Schubert’s Der Erlkonig, Op. 26
Paganini: The Witches, Op. 8
Stravinsky: The Devil’s Dance from L’Histoire du Soldat (trio version)
Sarasate: Faust Fantasy (after Charles Gounod)



Dates Recorded: March-July, 1998 at WFMT Chicago
Producers: James Ginsburg and Sibbi Bernhardsson
Engineer: Bill Maylone
Production Assistant: David Dieckmann
Microphones: Schoeps MK21, Neumann KM140, Sennheiser MKH40
Graphic Design: Cheryl A. Boncuore
Cover Photography: Nesha & Kumiko Photodesign
Cape: Julia Needlman, Needlman Designer Custom Sewing
Violin: “ex-Lobkowicz” A&H Amati, Cremona, 1617

Personal Note

In 1993, I was booked to give a recital on October 31. Unable to resist the temptation, I bought a witch’s hat and an Elvira dress, found some black nail polish, and started to look for repertoire to fit the theme. I didn’t have to look far, as numerous devilish pieces have been written for the violin. In fact, the challenge was not filling the program but deciding which works to leave off. The concert was so much fun that when Cedille Records invited me to make an album of virtuoso encores, I knew just the program to suggest. Many of these works had been part of my recital repertoire for years; the Round of the Goblins was one of my most frequent encores. And since my “rock” album, Storming the Citadel, was about to be released, this collection of showpieces seemed ideal for keeping the interest of those new fans of the violin.

Recording this album challenged my technical strength to the utmost. The heavy-gauge Dominant strings on my violin added to the intensity, so recording multiple takes of the pizzicato section of The Witches actually caused my fingers to bleed! However, it is not the daredevil tricks that make each of these pieces so exciting, but the beauty and drama of the music itself.

The album’s liner notes tell the fantastic stories behind each piece and describe the violin’s centuries-old associations with the macabre. It was said that Paganini must have sold his soul to the devil to gain the ability to play all of those fast notes. But don’t worry, I just practiced a lot!


“Rachel Barton is such a commanding presence that I never budged from my listening couch for the 78 minutes duration of this CD… Barton elicits a rich, burnished tone that eloquently and thrillingly portrays the violin as devil… This disc is simply one of the finest violin recordings I’ve heard in the last five years.”
Audiophile Audition

“What scares me most about this demonic-themed recording is Rachel Barton’s almost inhuman violin playing… Her playing is both exciting and immaculate… Don’t miss this recording.”
American Record Guide

“A release that deserves a place in every violinist’s library. A frightfully good, thoroughly entertaining fire and brimstone recital, warmly (or, in keeping with the theme, hotly) recommended. Look out, Jack Nicholson!”

“Rachel Barton’s powerful musical personality lifts virtuoso showpieces (Bazzini, Paganini, Sarasate) almost into the realm of high art. This is a unique and wonderful disc, not to be missed by any lover of the violin.”
Editorial Review –

“More than a gimmick album, it allows Barton to display her stunning technique in a variety of fiendishly difficult works, including what may be the fastest version of Bazzini’s “Round of the Goblins” on CD.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

(out of 4) “Dynamite virtuoso performances of music written as much for show off purposes as any other. Barton truly does seem possessed.”
The Laser Disc Gazette

“This fine collection of some of the thorniest virtuoso violin works with ‘devilish’ connections is by any standards a formidable undertaking… [Rachel Barton’s] fearless assaults on the Liszt-Milstein Mephisto Waltz and Berlioz-Barton-Sinozich Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath (a blistering transcription of the Symphonie Fantastique’s finale) really take some believing… It’s the kind of disc that as Barton’s career develops will surely become something of a collector’s item.”
The Strad

Fan Comments

Once again Rachel has put together a “killer” CD. Rachel has shown excellent judgment in her choice of materials for this CD. I think Rachel breezes through these difficult pieces masterfully-her harmonics set my hair on end and give me chills. She seems to have a natural inclination for the fire of these pieces. – Chapman Tucker ( customer)

I bought this CD after reading about the Ernst transcription of Schubert’s “Erlkonig,” checked out the reviews of a host of violinists who performed it–and was totally shocked when I heard Barton’s performance of the piece. She actually gets the “four voices” of the narrator, child, father, and Erlkonig on a solo violin!! One listen and I could not believe that this was a solo violinist!! All of the compositions are just as memorable, and the two other artists who appear on the album are also excellent!! THIS IS A “MUST HAVE” RECORDING!! – Dr. Robert S. Bean ( customer)


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