Pip Clarke reviews
In performance with Orchestras ...
NHSO opens season with rousing performance under Boughton’s baton
"The agile violinist showed her style and flair (Saint Saens Violin Concerto)...."
New Haven Register - September 2008
Violinist Sparkles as Symphony Opens Season
"Artwork and artistry were much in evidence Saturday night as the Mobile Symphony Orchestra welcomed the return of violinist Pip Clarke, who last performed here in November 2003.
The next half-hour belonged to the British-born Clarke, who performed what has become her signature piece, the Violin Concerto of onetime movie composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Clarke will perform the work again in October when she makes her debut at Carnegie Hall.
Ten years ago, the writer Steve Schwartz said he once asked a violinist friend of his to describe the violin concerto, and he replied: "Pure corn and pure gold." After hearing it, one understands, and Clarke played the difficult piece with a passion that spotlighted each showcase moment.
Her playing elicited spine-tingling moments, from the soaring solo that opens the concerto to the closing Allegro assai vivace with thematic elements from the film "Anthony Adverse."
Clarke was superb and in control through the electrifying climax. The audience showed its approval with cheers and applause that drew the violinist back to the stage for a poignant interpretation of Fritz Kreisler's arrangement of the Clarence Cameron White spiritual "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."
Press Register - September 2007
The Season Premiere
"Obviously, it's healthy. Victor Sawa, conductor of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, told his Saturday evening audience that he likes to feed season-premiere concertgoers "comfort food." It works. The crowd was left smiling with the lip-smacking, three-course banquet, including a spectacular flambe, that launched Sawa's 10th season with the RSO.
The flambe came with a return visit by Los Angeles violinist Pip Clarke to play Max Bruch's fiery 'Scottish Fantasia'. It is an often-heard work, but it acquires a freshness when presented live. As with her appearance last season, when she performed Erich Korngold's 'Concerto for Violin in D Major', Clarke is a commanding figure on stage: tall, erect, scarcely moving. She is statuesque, but never stony. This is no sissy work, but one of great passion, and Clarke gives it all the finesse required. The 'Fantasie' picks up a number of Scottish airs, finishing with the dramatic "Scots wha' hae", in which Clarke was called upon to double, then quadruple, the notes. The orchestration was stirring, using the deep brass to provide a smoky Highland vista, and the harp to add a Celtic flavour. Harpist Olivia Ritchey was called to take a bow during the ovation.
There was speculation among listeners that, surely, Clarke must have been playing a vintage violin to produce her rich sounds. It is good to know that some wonderful things can still be created today, and she confided that her instrument is a 1983 Peresson, crafted in Philadelphia."
The Leder Post - September 2006
London Sinfonia with William Boughton
"The second half of the concert was devoted to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, performed by Pip Clarke, in a rare UK appearance from this US based British violinist. From the opening orchestral tutti one sensed that this was going to be a dramatic non-sentimental reading, which so often underates this mighty work.
The opening octaves of the solo violin showed that Ms Clarke was in control of the structure of the work and was not going to allow it to degenerate into a series of cameos – which can so often happen! Her intonation was secure throughout and her range of colours and beauty of tone poured light into the work’s edifices. In the slow movement she weaved a beautiful line in between the Orchestras solemnity, once again maintaining the structure and using a range of vibrato and bowing to achieve her effects. The finale brought this fine performance to a joyful conclusion which was received with rapturous applause.
Let’s hear more of this British violinist on this side of the Atlantic please."
South Wales Argos - June 2006
Peninsula Composer's Gem
"FOR MANY YEARS I've harbored a secret wish to be present at the introduction of a great musical work. Peninsula composer Lee Actor has granted my wish with a first performance of his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, introduced in concert by the Mission Chamber Orchestra this past weekend at Le Petit Trianon in San Jose. It was a stunning success, one that brought to mind the great Sibelius violin concerto.
I guess, after all these years of reviewing, I've developed an ad hoc set of criteria: If it's exhilarating, brings me close to tears by its beauty and I want to hear it again, then in my book it's great. And my answer to all these questions is "yea." I have no doubt. This is a major work deserving of national attention. It was commissioned by the Mission Chamber Orchestra in honor of its 10th anniversary and Actor delivered full measure.
Not only that, English violinist Pip Clarke, the soloist that evening, is the one he had in mind when was composing. It was a marriage made in musical heaven, as she conquered the heights with stunning technique and timbre. I was riveted from the opening bars to the very end. Where has she been all my life? She is as beautiful in person as she plays the instrument, and is certainly a potent rival to the best of the concertizing violinists who choke the concert stages these days.
Although Actor pays homage to the harmonies and dissonances of modern composers, his work is really steeped in traditional forms and his orchestrations match the best of them. This concerto verges on masterpiece and bodes well for Actor, who is devoting himself full time to the art. Actor is not entirely unknown. The Palo Alto Philharmonic, where Actor is composer-in-residence, has already given readings of his Variations and Fugue for Orchestra, Symphony No. 1, Prelude to a Tragedy, and most recently his Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra. The Redwood Symphony commissioned and performed his "Redwood Fanfare" in 2002. And one of his works is being programmed by the Peninsula Symphony for its next season. But until they hear this violin concerto, they ain't heard nothin' yet."
San Mateo County Times - April 2006
San Jose, CA
"The symphony, conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer, sounded remarkably together during the film and also in the far more complex piece that opened the concert: Erich Korngold's Violin Concerto in D Major.
The soloist, Pip Clarke, made a strong impression in the first movement, a glassy yet full-voiced sound. From the balcony on Saturday it seemed as if the music was coming from a point about 20 feet above her.
A quick poll at intermission split between listeners who thought her violin might be miked and those who thought not. Either way, Clarke's sensual shaping of the highly atmospheric lines in the first two movements and her flashy technique in the finale were electrifying.
Best-known for his Warner Brothers soundtracks, Korngold was also, at one time, in the front ranks of serious concert composers. His concertos and symphonies reflect some of the Hollywood techniques that he pioneered, brimming with tempting emotionality yet bafflingly sidestepping easy melodic hooks."
Anchorage Daily News - January 2006
"English violinist Pip Clarke was the guest soloist for the Violin Concerto of Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Korngold, a prodigy once seriously compared to Mozart, was notoriously prickly about the damage done to his reputation among "serious" music lovers by his success as a crafter of classic film scores in the '30s and '40s.
His 1948 concerto is a romantic tour-de-force, full of ravishing tunes lifted from various movie scores and a crowd-pleaser from the very first bar.
Pip Clarke was the right interpreter for this flamboyant and dashing work. She obviously loves the dramatic gestures and yearning chromatic themes that animate the piece, and did ample justice to it all."
Roanoke Times - November 2005
"Clarke, who made her London debut at the age of 16, has been hailed for her unique style of playing and spectacular sound qualities. She certainly cannot be faulted in terms of spectacular technique. She showed her warm and rich qualities of tone in a lovely encore following a standing ovation, Fritz Kreisler's arrangement of the spiritual "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," a tribute to the current national tragedy in the southern part of our nation."
Flagstaff Sun - September 2005
'SUPERWOMEN OF STRINGS' FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET
"British-born violinist Pip Clarke could stand in for Jennifer Garner in the 'Alias' series, she's a dishy, long-haired young woman with powerful personality and musical muscles to match. Critics worldwide have dubbed her 'Superwoman of Strings', and Friday night the Clay Center audience found out why, as she played Erich Korngold's 'Violin Concerto Op. 3' with the West Virginia Symphony. They were so overpowered with her rendition of the unfamiliar, fiendishly difficult work that they applauded and cheered between each movement, not usually good concert hall etiquette.
Clarke's commanding artistry took immediate possession of the piece, releasing a sonorous rich tone very much her own. Her pitch is dead on and her bowing virtuosic: the two most important elements of violin technique.
She delivered the lovely second movement with a sweet, singing quality when called for, and disciplined give-and-take with the orchestral conversations. The mood meter turned brittle and raucous with the third movement, and Clarke might have sawed her 1983 Italian-made fiddle in two, had her bow had a blade instead of horsehair. It was a free-for-all in gung-ho Hollywood style, as fiendishly difficult for the large orchestra as for the soloist. At times it sounded like the Cavalry was coming to save the day. And all was well that ended well: a triumph for Clarke, Cooper and the WVSO."
Saturday Gazette-Mail - April 2005
VIOLINIST SHOWS HER FLAIR
"The soloist for the concert was English violinist Pip Clarke, whose excellent account of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy was deservedly well received.
Clarke has a distinctive sound and an individual style of playing. She has an obvious flair for the romantic gesture and for making virtuoso passagework sound full of substance and meaning. This is no mean feat in the Bruch Fantasy, not a work of great musical significance, but sounding like a major concerto under Clarke's commanding presence and total commitment to the performance. A return engagement would certainly be welcome, especially with a major concerto."
Calgary Herald - March 2005
AUDIENCE TREATED TO ROMANTIC EVENING
"As much as hearing it, seeing a performance of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's 1945 'Concerto for Violin in D Major' made this a warm experience.
Visiting violin virtuoso Pip Clarke, originally from the northwest of England, now based in Los Angeles, has a commanding presence of stage.
Clarke stands quite erect, scarcely moving her body, even in the most passionate sections of the concerto, although if one watches her closely, her face will show traces of her oneness with the music, especially in the highly ornamented variations of the final movement."
Regina Leader-Post - March 2005
"Soloist Clarke, a young British artist who is a Korngold devotee, played with technical polish, big vibrato and lots of verve, obviously secure in the concerto's sometimes stratospheric tessitura."
Ann Arbor News - October 2004
Ann Arbor, MI
"The truly sweet stuff came when English violinist Pip Clarke took the stage for Dvorak's Violin Concerto. In the past decade, Clarke has become a solo staple, playing with more than 70 orchestras in the United States alone. Saturday's performance leaves one with little doubt why. The violin is second only to the voice in its ability to encompass the range and depth of human emotion. And Clarke is second to none in pulling those emotions from her instrument. To hear that ancient Slavic theme weeping from her strings is to know what the composer must have felt when penning the work. "Haunting" is the term often used to describe Clarke's unique tone, and it serves particularly well with Dvorak's work."
The Lima News - October 2004
ORCHESTRA, VIOLINIST TIP HAT TO HOLLYWOOD SOUND
"Every orchestra today must break even by striking a balance between masterworks and music on the fringe, between accepted and neglected composers. Consider Erich Wolfgang Korngold and his Violin Concerto, impressively played Thursday night by soloist Pip Clarke at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Clarke and the orchestra conjured up some delightful moments, embracing the high calorie opening theme, which Alexander Courage transformed into music for the 1960s television series 'Star Trek'. Clarke spun through the saccharine Romance section and showed her chops in the energetic finale, which quotes the score of 1937's 'The Prince and the Pauper'. Clarke fired off two short encores, a traditional American spiritual followed by William Kroll's quirky 'Banjo and Fiddle'."
Tampa Tribune - March 2004