Caroline Goulding Plays Diversity Perfectly

I think I have found my new favorite violinist! It is a joy to discover new artists, particularly young artists like Caroline Goulding who are so very versatile while proving to be virtuoso at the same time. In Caroline’s instance, what impressed me the most was her virtuoso ability across such a diverse range of violin styles.

Her soon to be released CD Caroline Goulding covers a wide variety of styles from Klezmer styles of Fritz Kreisler’s Gypsy Caprice through the sliding jazz styles in selections from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and into Celtic fiddle with Johnny Cope. Caroline does them all with such finesse you’d never know she hadn’t been steeped in each style dozens of years. However, she’s only 16, so she hasn’t had that luxury. She must achieve her mastery of all these sundry styles through a magic wand (or magic bow as the case may be).

The CD begins with a selection of four Fritz Kreisler melodies. Each has its own character, but all are steeped with a sense of classical violin style with extensive double bowing and lightening quick passages. These show Caroline’s classical ability is up to the task of even the most difficult pieces. In the Gypsy Caprice she demonstrates her understanding of Eastern European Klezmer music with the way her violin weeps through the slides ever so delicately. The Red Violin Caprices for solo violin by John Corigliano give Caroline a chance to display her mastery of double stops and blistering speed. To completely change style, Caroline includes selections from Porgy and Bess which require a jazz style of sliding that is unique. She does it beautifully, at times making the violin sing duets with it self and bringing out all the heart wrenching emotion Gershwin could have asked for. Finally, she plays a series of Cape Breton fiddle tunes complete with a Scotch Snap, again a form of violin playing unique to the style of music. When you listen to the last few tracks you’d think you were listening to someone who’d been playing fiddle for 30 years.

If there was any aspect of the CD I was less than thrilled with it was her choice of including Henri Vieuxtemps Souvenir d’Amerique variations on “Yankee Doodle”. Joshua Bell did a similar Variations on The Carnival of Venice which I also didn’t enjoy, but I have a feeling it has more to do with the style of music and nothing to do with the performance. In both instances these performers do an exceptional job playing these very demanding pieces. If I had to favor one, I’d have to choose Caroline as at least when she played she sounded as if she was having fun!

Overall the CD is amazing, her playing is amazing, and most of the music is amazing… I was getting ready to write the review and already say many kind things, then I found out she was only 16. She has years to perfect her craft, and I look forward to seeing what she thinks is perfect. This is a great first album.

I said at the beginning I may have found a new favorite violinist. As a composer, I hope to hear her play one of my pieces - perhaps I shall have to write one specifically for her!

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