If the title and cover art of “Violin Lullabies” suggest another one of those dubious "music for your baby” compilation albums, don’t let that impression fool you. Rachel Barton Pine has assembled a collection of 25 lullabies, arranged for violin and piano, by a diverse mix of composers, representing various national styles (including Spanish, Armenian and Norwegian) and distinct approaches to getting babies to sleep.
Not surprisingly, Pine was drawn to the topic by the birth of her daughter, Sylvia, in September 2011. The Chicago-based violinist long ago noticed that many composers had written lullabies and she began tracking down the sheet music for those, which she didn’t already know (some were out of print). More than 150 turned up, and 25 made the cut for the recording, which features a two-week-old Sylvia in her dad’s arms on the cover.
Pine and her sensitive pianist, Matthew Hagle, include several famous lullabies, including those by Brahms, Schubert, Faure and Gershwin (“Summertime”). Others may come as a surprise: the “Berceuse Écossaise (Scottish Lullaby)” by Ludwig Schwab is a delightful Scottish accent; Oror (Lullaby), by a young Alan Hovhannes is colored with Eastern exoticism; and the lullaby from Stravinsky’s Firebird may not soothe a child to sleep, but it’s certainly enthralling on its own terms. The album’s dramatic centerpiece may be William Grant Still’s Mother and Child, full of sweep and drama. Excellent liner notes complete the package.
Parents: What pieces do you find have been most effective at putting a baby to sleep? Please leave your comments below or tweet us at @WQXR.
Rachel Barton Pine, violin; Matthew Hagle, piano
Available at Arkivmusic.com