Music for Violin & Piano and Violin Alone

Johann Sebastian Bach, David Baker Jr., William Grant Still, Fritz Kreisler, Camille Saint-Saëns, Josef Suk, Eugène Ysaÿe

Craig Ketter, Piano
Anna Reinersman, Harp



“KHT presents a bountiful collection of lovely solo violin works on her new CD, In My Own Voice. Describing her choice of repertoire, Ms. Hall-Tompkins says the pieces represent “something old, something new, something borrowed, something Blues.” The big pieces for unaccompanied solo violin demonstrate her virtuosity: J.S. Bach’s triumphant Chaconne, from the Second Partita for Unaccompanied Violin in D Minor, S.1004, serves as a pillar, and it’s beautifully performed. I give her high marks for making a war horse speak with originality on a Guarneri del Gesu (1732 violin “ex Kaston”) with modern set-up. Her seemingly effortless performance of Ysaÿe’s “Ballade,” from the Sonata in D minor, Op.27, No. 3, another classic from the violin literature, will surely please aficionados of the instrument. However, there is much more to savor in this album.
For starters, Camille Saint-Saëns’ heavenly classic, the Fantasy for Violin and Harp in A, is a piece we don’t hear every day; it’s a composition that has been elevated to one of my favorites. Coupled with William Grant Still’s gorgeous “Summerland,” Ms. Hall-Tompkins makes the instrument sing. This is violin playing at its sweetest. The “wild card,” says the performer, is “Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini,” for violin and piano, penned by David Baker, Jr. I have to admit I’m not a fan of quotations and musical parody, but this is well written, rich with sultry jazz-like moments and showy fanfare exploiting the performer’s skill. Ms. Hall-Tompkins’ adept collaborative proficiency, conviction and swing make it work — it’s a fitting encore.
Ms. Hall-Tompkins is not only a versatile musician (she is a member of the prestigious Ritz Chamber Players and the New Jersey Symphony) but also an extraordinary individual. Classical music fans and readers will remember Daniel Wakin’s article “For the Homeless, Music That Fits a Void” (New York Times, December 18, 2009), about her project, Music Kitchen. A global citizen, she is a French speaker and a student of several languages and cultures. Ms. Hall-Tompkins represents a new generation of accomplished players who define themselves on their own terms; in so doing, she creates an intimate relationship with listeners without walls.
The violinist grew up in South Carolina and was trained at several of our most prestigious music schools. It was at Eastman that she met Raleigh native Craig Ketter, the exceptional pianist who provides such strong support in this CD. (He’s her chief recital partner, performing with her frequently.) And it was at the Manhattan School of Music that she met harpist Anna Reinersman, who performs in New Bern every year during the late summer Carolina Chamber Music Festival.
Finally, hurrah for independent CD label MSR Classics! Showcasing artists who might otherwise be overlooked, we hear a richer, more diverse repertoire. Recorded in St. Peter’s church in NYC and Christ Church , Brooklyn , the sound Ms. Hall-Tompkins produces is glorious. This is a splendid CD. It deserves a prominent spot with your other violin favorites. Congratulations Ms. Hall-Tompkins — well done!”
Karen Moorman, Classical Voice of North Carolina - April 2010
“Attention concert presenters!... you'd have a winner in presenting Kelly Hall-Tompkins. Here is an artist who deserves not just a hearing but fame itself. Right from the start in the Kreisler, it's clear that Hall-Tompkins is beyond technique. She has a firm presence and, above all, a grasp of the work's structure. The Ysaye and Bach are choice examples of her solid grasp of structure and, thus, her powers of interpretation. In brief, she compels you to listen. [Ethnic Variations shows] Hall-Tompkins' virtuosity in yet another style. She turns it into crossover-with-class. The engineering is excellent, and the program notes well written and to the point. ”
French, American Record Guide - September / October 2009
“Kelly Hall-Tomkins plays Kreisler’s tribute to Eugène Ysaÿe... with a tonal mastery, a technical command, and a strength of personality that justify the CD’s title. With swooping portamentos, dramatic dynamic shifts (as well as changes in tempo), and crisp articulation...her performance remains worth hearing. [In Suk’s Love Song] she generates a similarly opulent intensity and cloaks the opening and ending in a similarly gauzy veil... the engineers have served the soloist and other instrumentalists well, allowing just enough reverberation when the violinist is playing alone, but never so much as to obliterate detail. [In the Chaconne] Hall- Tomkins manages, at her more relaxed pace, to reveal a great deal of the work’s splendor... Hall-Tomkins reveals a different side, by turns piquant and suggestive, in Saint-Saëns’s Fantasie for violin and harp...  Hall-Tomkins’s performance of it demonstrates its timbral and general musical potential... Craig Ketter provides unobtrusively sympathetic support. Taken as a whole, the recital represents a significant achievement in stylistic adaptability... Recommended.”
Robert Maxham, Fanfare - July / August 2009
“In My Own Voice includes technically confident and strongly shaped readings of challenging unaccompanied works by Kreisler and Ysaye as well as the great Bach Chaconne… Hall-Tompkins combines prettily with harpist Anna Reinersman [in a delightfully inventive fantasia]…and with pianist Craig Ketter she delivers sweetly played bonbons [by Suk and William Grant Still].”
BBC Music Magazine - May 2009
" 'Chaconne' an enthralling fifteen minute performance... Kelly Hall-Tompkins’ wonderful performance is remarkable... In My Own Voice contains a wide ranging choice of violin pieces each of which are played immaculately. Kelly Hall-Tompkins performs the technically demanding Bach and Ysaye compositions, alongside the beautifully haunting Saint Saens, the lively Kreisler, and the fascinating Baker variations with equal mastery and remarkable versatility. The beauty of the artiste, the instrument she graces, and the music chosen positively radiates from the recording."
Jeff Perkins, BlogCritics - April 2009
"Kelly Hall-Tompkins here offers a debut recital disc that proceeds from the familiar to the unusual. That's noteworthy in itself... The level of sheer virtuosity associated with Paganini is retained in diverting ways, and Hall-Tompkins plays with obvious enthusiasm... performances of virtuoso standards that are convincing in themselves but that don't quite fit together. Technically everything's solid...and in her capacity for taking chances on unfamiliar material, Hall-Tompkins serves notice that she's a young violinist to be watched."
All Music Guide - April 2009
Kelly Hall-Tompkins is a violinist highly in demand, with a dynamic career that spans solo, chamber and orchestral appearances. Ms. Hall-Tompkins was the winner of a 2003 Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize as well as a Concert Artists Guild Career Grant in 1996, leading to numerous solo recitals. In 2007 she was invited by Mia Farrow and conductor George Matthew to be soloist for a Benefit for the Victims of Darfur, hosted by Ms. Farrow at Carnegie Hall. Ms. Hall-Tompkins has appeared as soloist with the Dallas Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of New York, Greenville Symphony and many other ensembles, and her recital performances have been featured on the McGraw-Hill Young Artist Showcase on WQXR and WFMT Chicago. Her solo performances also include the National Academy of Sciences, Dame Myra Hess Series and at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina.
Ms. Hall-Tompkins is a member of the Ritz Chamber Players, which is in residence at Jacksonville's Times Union Center, and has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center and Madison Festivals and featured on NPR, BBC Radio, WNYC and WFMT Chicago. In addition, she has performed at Bargemusic. Ms. Hall-Tompkins has performed at many major festivals, including Tanglewood, Aspen, American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Spoleto Festival and at the New York String Orchestra Seminar. Ms Hall-Tompkins has also served as grant panelist for The Massachusetts Cultural Council and Chamber Music America.
Ms. Hall-Tompkins' distinguished orchestral career has included extensive touring with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and in Japan, Singapore and Scotland. She has also performed with the New York Philharmonic under conductors Masur, Slatkin, Previn, Dutoit, Gergiev and others. She is the concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of New York and in 1999 joined the First Violin section of the New Jersey Symphony.
In 2005, Ms.Hall-Tompkins founded and now directs Music Kitchen - Food for the Soul, a charity series that brings chamber music to homeless shelters in New York City. She has presented more than 30 concerts with artists including Emanuel Ax and Albrecht Mayer, and has been featured in Chamber Music America Magazine, Spirituality and Health Magazine and the Hallmark Channel. A native of South Carolina, Ms. Hall-Tompkins earned a MM degree from the Manhattan School of Music under Glenn Dicterow, and served as concertmaster of the school's orchestras. She earned a BM with honors in violin performance from the Eastman School, where she won the prestigious Performer's Certificate Competition.
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice, Op.6
Josef SUK (1874-1935)
Eugène YSAŸE (1858-1931)
Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin No.4 in D minor, Op.27, No.3 – Ballade
J.S. BACH (1685-1750)
Partita for Unaccompanied Violin No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004 – Chaconne
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Fantasy for Violin and Harp in A major, Op.124
William Grant STILL (1895-1978)
David BAKER, JR. (b.1931)
Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini

MSR Classics