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Rachel Barton is a dazzling virtuoso and her selection of works on this recording are superb, first, because they showcase her talents and, secondly, because they are just great works, period.
Her inspiration, taken from Earl Wild's "The Demonic Liszt" album, takes on a new dimension being that this collection is by numerous composers. Oddly enough, Liszt's fantastic "Mephisto Waltz"-- which is a splendid piece in both its orchestral and solo piano versions-- does not come off as well in this bare-bones version for solo violin. This has less to do with Rachel's interpretation than with the piece just lending itself to the other versions better.
Rachel's renditions of Stravinsky's "The Devil's Dance", Bazzini's "Round of the Goblins" and other works here are no less exciting. Congratulations must also go to all the accompanists, as they play cohesively and with just the right amount of voice.
Nevertheless, the real show-stopper is Pablo Sarasate's "Faust Fantasy." Only being familiar with Gounod's original Faust opera and Weiniawski's fantasy upon themes from the same opera, I found Sarasate's version even more thrilling. It is truly a dazzling piece, and knowing that Rachel has an affinity for Sarasate's works, it is no surprise that this piece grabs the listener's attention the most. Moreover, it is cleverly placed last on the album, thus making it the perfect encore, one that leaves the audience pleading with the Devil to give them more!
As a side note, being that Franz Liszt inevitably ignited this work, by inspiring Earl Wild and then Rachel Barton in turn, it would be fantastic to see Liszt's pioneering and thrilling works transcribed for violin and chamber orchestra, like his "Dante sonata," "Funerallies," "Ladislaus Teleki," and so many other masterpieces. If you read this review, Rachel, please take that enticing, diabolical, bit of advice to heart, as it suits your talents well! Nevertheless, this album is highly enjoyable and highly recommended.more....
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INSTRUMENT OF THE DEVIL