Violinist Rachel Barton Pine set the Collins Center for the Arts ablaze Sunday afternoon when she gave a tour de force performance of Brahms’ Concerto for Violin, opus 77 in D Major.
She played with such precision and passion, flames, figuratively speaking, shot out of her bow. They danced over the heads of her fellow musicians, bounced off the walls of the concert hall and tickled the audience. Pine’s long red hair and shimmering brown gown added fuel to the image.
Unlike more sedate violin soloists who have appeared with the orchestra, Pine seemed to wrestle with the notes rather than simply to play them. She practically attacked the piece yet there was a delicate grace to the sound produced by the instrument, a Guarnari on permanent loan. It rivals Stradivari for its rarity and purity, which Pine demonstrated again and again.
Few know how truly remarkable a soloist is better than the musicians who perform with her or him. Members of the BSO sat mesmerized by Pine’s solo in the concerto’s middle section.
As they typically do, the symphony excelled in its quest to match Pine’s perfection. The finer the soloist, the better the BSO players perform. Sunday was no exception.
Pine, 42, debuted with her hometown orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, at age 10. By her early 20s, she had won countless international awards. In 1994, she played the national anthem before one of the championship games for the Chicago Bulls, a performance that brought her new fans outside of the realm of classical music — fans such as current and former members of Slayer, Megadeth and the Scorpions.
On Saturday night, Pine and BSO musicians played a classical-inspired program of heavy-metal songs at the Central Gallery on Central Street in downtown Bangor.
She chose something more traditional for her encore Sunday — Brahm’s lullaby. The familiar, seemingly simple tune performed by Pine with complexity, resonated with grateful concertgoers, who sighed as the first notes were played.
The orchestra also performed Beethoven’s King Stephan Overture, opus and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, opus 120 in D minor. While the orchestra performed each quite nicely, both were eclipsed and nearly driven from the audience’s memory by its forceful performance with Pine.
Conductor Lucas Richman, who joined the BSO in 2010, has pushed members of the orchestra to take their classical repertoire from the concert hall into the bars, galleries and streets of Bangor, where pianos sometimes are waiting to be played. That truly has fulfilled the BSO tradition of being a community orchestra.
Richman’s legacy, however, is how he continues to transform the orchestra into one made up of professional musicians that world renowned artists, such as Pine, are eager to perform with.
The Bangor Daily News is a sponsor of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.
BDN writer Emily Burnham contributed to this report.