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Artistic Quality 10/10 Sound Quality
"Everything about this release by violinist Rachel Barton Pine is exceptional, from the selection of couplings to the performances themselves... In sum, this collaboration between Pine, Fraser, Platt, and the SCO is a triumph on all counts, a model of what a themed release ought to be, and it's all captured in demonstration-quality sound by Cedille's engineers. Without a doubt, this is one of the smartest and most purely lovable releases of the year."
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"Heifetz set a very high standard in [the Bruch Scottish Fantasy], and so did the young Michael Rabin and Kyung-Wha Chung, but neither brought to it the sheer excitement that Pine’s version generates… Pine’s exceptional performance should breathe new life into the piece even for those who think that Heifetz has spoken the first, the second, and the last words on the subject. Most urgently recommended. Scots, wha hae!"
"Rachel Barton Pine really may be the most charismatic, the most virtuosic, and the most compelling American violinist of her generation. Her recordings from Handel through Brahms have been sweet-toned, strong-willed, and deeply affecting and with this two-disc set called Scottish Fantasies, Pine has once again turned in a completely convincing recording. Her performance of Bruch's very well-known "Scottish Fantasy" is warm-hearted and delightfully nostalgic. Her performance of Sarasate's fairly well-known "Airs ecossais" is superbly played and incredibly impressive. Her performances of Mackenzie's nearly unknown "Pibiroch Suite" and McEwen's previously unrecorded "Scottish Rhapsody Prince Charlie" are superlatively played and wonderfully touching. And her performance of a duet with Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser is twice as well played and absolutely irresistible."
All Music Guide
"I have not been this enthusiastic about a violinist since my high school days when my musically knowledgeable uncle slipped me a clutch of dreadful sounding pirate LPs recorded by David Oistrakh when he was at the pinnacle of his prime. In this case, however, the sound is stunning, Pine has technique to burn, both she and her conductor have an uncanny ability to get to the idiomatic heart of the music, and the choice of repertory is revelatory."
"From the moment Pine steals quietly in during the introduction to the Scottish Fantasy you know that this is going to be worlds away from the Heifetz, Oistrakh and Perlman classics. Pine sounds completely uninterested in macho displays of well-upholstered tone but prefers to play the work as the relatively small voice of the wandering poet, with a ravishing, Ferras-like, jeweled purity… Pine’s sublimely musical playing makes [the McEwen] sound like a neglected masterpiece, while her own Medley of Scots Tunes ensures the disc goes out on an exhilarating high… This is another sure-fire winner from Pine."
"Rachel Barton Pine from Chicago (whose recent Brahms and Joachim concertos I admired) plays [Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy] with great warmth and authority… Her technique is very impressive (hear her flawless double octaves and left-hand pizzicati in the devilish Sarasate), but the strength of her commitment is what really makes this a rather special set."
BBC Music Magazine
"If you are among those people who are devoted to the violin and a follower of the young virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine then you will be delighted with her new two CD album… Pine takes each piece and gives it an authentic Scottish sound, and the result is something you may never have heard before… The entrance of the solo violin grabs the attention instantly; her brilliantly fresh approach to the [Bruch] pays off handsomely… You could be forgiven for thinking that there is a genuine highland fiddler sitting on Ms Pine’s shoulder, the [Sarasate] is performed with dazzling virtuosity… Mackenzie’s “Pibroch Suite” [is] a really fascinating work again of Scottish origin and beautifully performed by Rachel Barton Pine. Do not be surprised if you imagine that you can actually smell the heather… [Pine and Fraser] gel together to produce a work of such hair raising excitement as if they had been playing this type of music all their lives. The work’s whiskey fumed explosive finale will carry you off on a cloud until finally you find yourself in a world of Scottish Magic from which you may not wish to return."
"Like Pine's previous efforts, this is an unusually thoughtful and thought-provoking release, the excellent performances augmented by Pine's thorough program notes."
"Rachel Barton Pine should earn a medal not only for bringing to light these wonderful works saturated with Scottish folk songs, or for having played them for a hopefully large listening audience. Her ambition and the meticulousness with which she has conducted her thorough study of source materials accompanies the intensity of violin playing which really turns these recordings into a small sensation… It is the penetration of the material by means of technical brilliance and deep insight into the compositions presented in logically phrased great arcs, but also in the detail work with intricate, marked execution of the arcs… Pine never places her virtuosity in the foreground, rather, melts with the outstanding Scottish Chamber Orchestra to exactly that oneness which leads musical interpretation to perfection… Two whimsical discs with the best music, interpreted in the best way. Recommended."
"Violinist Rachel Barton Pine continues her string of superb recordings for the Cedille label… Pine’s sterling virtuosity and personality-plus playing provide consistent pleasure."
"The second disc closes with a Medley of Scots Tunes which has Pine and Fraser playing together, two different yet completely compatible and sympathetic voices. This all-too-short collaboration finishes with a couple of exhilarating reels. They are the highlight, and perhaps the whole point, of this wonderful release."
The Absolute Sound
"Scottish Fantasies is an engaging collection of rhapsodies for violin and orchestra performed by one of our favorite ladies in the world of classical music, Rachel Barton Pine… Together as performers, Pine and Fraser bring down the house with the last piece as a rousing finale. The Spaniard Pablo de Sarasate is heard in this program in his Airs écossaises (Scottish Airs), a medley of six traditional tunes that stretches violin pyrotechnics to their limit. Rachel Barton Pine relishes the challenges of this short virtuoso piece, as fiendishly difficult to play as it is a joy to hear… As Pine plays [Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy], it's almost too dreamily sentimental for words - and I love it! The finale, based on the patriotic tune "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled" is given a rousing treatment, in which the violinist takes Bruch's redoubtable triple stops in her stride. Smashing!"
Atlanta Audio Society
Artistry 10/ Sound 10/ Overall Impression 10
"The moving American violinist Rachel Barton Pine places Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy in a context previously given little consideration… Pine secured the support of the renowned Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, who not only identified the underlying melodies but also introduced the violinist to the traditional manner of playing, which gave her rendition of the Bruch Fantasy an uncommonly fresh, authentic “Scottish flavor”."