Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries


Great classical and romantic era concertos by African-descended composers from Europe and the Caribbean



Great classical and romantic era concertos by African-descended composers from Europe and the Caribbean.

Track Listing
Meude-Monpas: Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major (1786)
Saint-Georges: Violin Concerto in A Major, Op. 5 No. 2 (1775)
White: Violin Concerto in F-sharp Minor (1864)
Coleridge-Taylor: Romance in G Major (1899)



Recorded June 3-5, 1997 at the Chapel of St. John the Beloved, Arlington Heights, Illinois
Producer: James Ginsburg
Engineer: Lawrence Rock
Production Assistant: David Dieckmann
Microphones: Schoeps MK21, MK 2S, RCA 44 (ribbon mic)
Violin: “ex-Lobkowicz” A&H Amati, Cremona, 1617
Graphic Design: Cheryl A. Boncuore
Front Cover: anonymous etching based on a painting of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Rachel Barton and The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation would like to thank many individuals and organizations for their assistance in making this recording possible: The Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College (Chicago), Suzanne Flandreau, Adrian Childs, Dominique-René de Lerma, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Kermit Moore, Roosevelt University, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Jeannette Kreston, Erin Pickett, and Greg Pine.

Personal Note

In 1992, I was invited to perform the Meude-Monpas Concerto No. 4 in a concert that the Civic Orchestra of Chicago presented in collaboration with Chicago’s Center for Black Music Research (CBMR). The Meude-Monpas, written in France in 1786, had recently been rediscovered, and this special concert of music by black composers was its modern-day premiere. The music was catchy, fresh, and utterly charming.

A few years later, the Encore Chamber Orchestra approached me about a collaborative recording. For my first concerto album, I wanted to present interesting works that listeners wouldn’t already have in their libraries. The Meude-Monpas immediately came to mind. Hopeful that other buried treasure might exist, I visited CBMR and began digging. The moment I saw their portrait of Saint-Georges, which prompted the cover for this album, I knew I was on the right track.

CBMR provided me with facsimiles of the 18th-century prints of the Saint-Georges and Meude-Monpas concertos. I based my interpretations on these original sources, and I composed cadenzas where the scores indicated. CMBR led me next to the 1864 Concerto in F# minor by Jose White. Learning of this neglected masterpiece was a revelation. It is a major romantic concerto of the virtuosic Franco-Belgian school, similar to the concertos of Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski and just as melodically satisfying. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was the obvious composer to complete the program, as his Romance of 1899 is so beautifully orchestrated.

Learning about these composers’ lives was as inspiring as exploring their music. I have especially enjoyed sharing their stories and compositions with African-American children, teaching that classical music is a part of their heritage that goes back at least as far as Mozart’s day.

I plan to publish my editions of some of these works in the near future. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy both the historic significance of this recording and the outstanding quality of the music itself.


“An enchanting look at four virtuosic composers… Rachel Barton has recorded a gem.”

“Compelling scores by four little-known composers who happen to be black… Rachel Barton handles the concertos’ varied demands with unaffected aplomb, performing this music lovingly rather than dutifully.”
New York Times

“Terrific performances; fine sound. A fascinating issue.”

“A fascinating collection… Chicago native Rachel Barton Pine, still in her early 20s, plays magnificently throughout, equal to both the demands for white-hot technique, as in the White Concerto, and for beauty of tone, as in the Coleridge-Taylor.”
The Absolute Sound

“Barton, Hege, and [the Encore Chamber Orchestra] deliver attractive and involving performances with a Mozartean mix of subtlety and power.”

Artistic Quality 10/10 Sound Quality
“A disc you should not miss.”

“Chicago violinist Rachel Barton struck a rich musical lode when she went digging for obscure repertoire by black composers… Barton, 23, gives radiant new life to each forgotten composition.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Beautifully recorded, beautifully performed… Rachel Barton’s performance is exemplary.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Music of great charm and elegance, rendered with sensitivity and stylish bravura by Barton.”
Chicago Tribune

“Barton’s sure-handed, spontaneous and highly expressive performance would be more than enough to earn her leading status in the under-30 generation of American violinists. The stylistic flexibility she displays in the rest of the album moves her to the very front of the line.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A fascinating collection of pieces deserving to be heard more than they have… Barton performs splendidly.”
The Schenectady Gazette

“Barton brings a glowing, luxurious tone and expansive phrasing to [the concertos’] flashy passage-work. Under Daniel Hege the orchestra knocks out its accompaniments with equal fervor. Joseph Smith’s Violin Concerto in F-sharp minor is especially strong.”
The Newark Star Ledger

“Barton’s luminous tone and world-class technique are especially vivid in the White concertos with all of its virtuoso licks, and she shines as a Classical stylist in the Meude-Monpas and Saint-Georges works.”
Winston-Salem Journal

“A journey of discovery that will afford immense pleasure from the brilliant performance by the soloist and the magnificence of the music… Barton has the supreme gift of playing virtuoso music in a way that furthers the composers’ intent and not just her own image.”
International African to American Music Society Newsletter

“In one of the bolder moves in the classical music business this past year, Barton has unveiled a treasure chest of worthy material on her new album… Ms. Barton’s talent is, by now, no secret and her bow work on this album is the stuff of pre-legendary status. Her technical mastery is without question some of the best we are going to hear in our generation. When the score calls for fancy fingerwork, she has few rivals. Her crisp, enunciated delivery leaves many gasping with disbelief.”
Chicago College News

“Four very attractive works… Ms. Barton has all the technique one could wish, but it is music she makes.”
Classical New Jersey


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