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Higdon and Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos


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Frequently Bought Together

Higdon and Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos + Elgar: Violin Concerto / Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending + Mendelssohn / Shostakovich: Violin Concertos
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Product details

  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko
  • Composer: Higdon, Tchaikovsky
  • Audio CD (10 Jan 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B003YOMNCM
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,096 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. 1726
2. Chaconni
3. Fly Forward
4. I. Allegro moderato
5. II. Canzonetta (Andante)
6. III. Allegro vivacissimo

Product Description

In another original concerto pairing, Grammy award winning violinist, Hilary Hahn, releases the world-premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon’s 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning concerto. Higdon’s masterpiece is stunningly paired with the ever-popular Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, one of the most popular romantic violin concertos in the repertoire.

“While they come from different worlds, they share a great many qualities: lyrical delicacy, a brooding gentility, energetic abandon, and a fine maturity of spirit. Placed back to back, they suggest the range of musical possibilities open to the violin in the early twenty-first century,” syas Hahn

On this recording, Hahn teams up with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of award winning young conductor, Vasily Petrenko. Hilary won a Grammy as “Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with orchestra)” in 2009 and the Choc du Monde de la musique in 2008.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ali Tigrel on 27 Jun 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Quite frankly I bought this CD because of the Higdon concerto since I have at least a dozen versions of the Tchaikovsky concerto. I must admit I was very impressed by the performance of Hilary Hahn in the Higdon concerto. Her technique and purity of tone are beyond reproach. As for the warhorse Tchaikovsky concerto, even though the performance is generally good, it fell short of my expectations. I have Hahn's recordings of Beethoven, Brahms and Sibelius concertos which are all outstanding and I suppose that's why my expectations were high. For the Tchaikovsky concerto, there are more electrifying performances in the catalogue. Try Fischer's, Repin's or Vengerov's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philip Chadwick VINE VOICE on 13 Oct 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Not as good as the Barber/Mayer CD but pretty good
The Tchaikovsky is excellent - she manages to make a very familiar concerto sound fresh
The Higdon, while beautifully played is a tad disappointing - more down to the music than Hahn
If you like the Higdon, this is an excellent cd
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Oyarsa on 20 May 2011
Format: Audio CD
First is to say that I own 4 other versions of the Tchaikovsky concerto:

Heifetz/Barbirolli/London Philharmonic Orchestra;
Oistrakh/Konwitschny/Staatskapelle Dresden;
Perlman/Leinsdorf/Boston Symphony Orchestra;
Mutter/Previn/VPO

so I kind of know this piece very well. Maybe these are not the best but they are the ones I could get along the years. Each set has something good and something I dislike, being the sound quality a clear let down in the Heifetz set since the recording made in the 30s was not really improved IMHO by EMI in the 2006 remaster. Also the mono sound in the Oistrakh set means for me a not fully satisfactory experience. The sets I like and that I play more often are Perlman and Mutter, not only because of a better sound but also because the orchestra is not shaded by the solo player and you can hear both. I think Mutter is better in the Korngold that completes her set but still her Tchaikovsky is good. Perlman's is fantastic I believe.

Then having listened only to Hahn's Bach album, I decided to buy this set and I was really surprised. Maybe the reason that the concerto sounds SO different is because it's the original, uncut version (as said in the booklet). Or maybe it's because Hahn somehow plays each note as if she was savouring their flavour (as you would do with a delicious cake) so we can taste it with her. The playing could be not as fast as in other versions but I don't think this means it's less virtuosity. Quite the opposit. Hahn's playing sounds as clear as a bell and her pianissimos are awesome. As awesome is Petrenko conducting this orchestra (so good now!) for not shadowing Hahn's soft playing and still managing to let the orchestra shine.

By far, the best version of Tchaikovsky concerto I own.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 40 reviews
42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Something new and something newer 22 Sep 2010
By Mark Van Vlack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I would normally only talk in a review about my visceral observations of the performance as the Classical piece being played is often well known. This is surely true of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. However, since the Higdon Violin Concerto is enjoying its premier recording on this CD, it may be necessary for me to break my own rule this once.
The Higdon Concerto is done on a grand scale. It is modern in style (meaning you aren't going to be whistling it anywhere) but its subtle melodies are never obscured by the type of ugly discordance found in much of the non-romantic modern repertoire. The piece has a tremendous amount of power and energy that brought me many a smile on my initial hearing.
I also must say that if I did not have a hearing aid I would surely not have heard most of the beginning of the first movement as it is full of harmonics way above my age-onset hearing loss. The third movement is exciting, played at a breakneck pace that may have been inspired by Miss Hahn's performance of the Barber third movement. Jennifer Higdon was right when she said that it sounds like Miss Hahn plays the third movement of her (Higdon's) concerto as if she had six fingers! As for its beauty, you can judge for yourself. Music is felt in the soul and many parts of this piece touched mine.
As for Hilary Hahn's performance of both pieces she is in typically amazing form. The phrasing, tonality and technique in these pieces are flawless and inspiring. She has the refreshing ability to put the music above her virtuosity and turn the technically monstrous passages into beautiful and graceful compliments to the spirit of the piece she is playing.
Many have commented that the Violin in Tchaikovsky's concerto was not written in a "violinistic" fashion. Miss Hahn proves them wrong and then some. What a wonderfully different listen this concerto is to the many interpretations I have heard over the years. She chose to play the original Tchaikovsky score rather than the Leopold Auer version so often used in the general repertoire (possibly for the criticisms mentioned at the start of this paragraph). I think her interpretation may inspire future violinist to consider the composers version of this piece as she points sign-posts in a fascinating and beautiful direction.
For the low price of this cd on Amazon, it would be a shame not to own it. The Tchaikovsky alone is worth the price of admission!
58 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Higdon and Tchaikovsky Should Be Proud 21 Sep 2010
By H. T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Hilary Hahn, once again, gracefully proves her fearless and mature artistry through the daunting Higdon concerto and the very well-known Tchaikovsky concerto. It is clear that Hahn never settles for mere virtuosic ostentation. Turning away from the gaudy approach that many violinists take toward the Tchaikovsky concerto, Hahn delves into the music and interprets it in a restrained but most heartfelt manner. She doesn't wrestle with the piece; she dances with it and lets it speak for itself. The Higdon concerto is just wonderful. It captures Hahn's energy and artistic consistency very well. Throughout the two concerti, Hahn can be seen as either Athena in a tough battle shining with her wisdom and perfect control or a young lady in an idyllic landscape embodying purity and evoking nostalgia. Hahn's versatility is admirable.

It is, however, unfortunate that some listeners can't pick up this beautiful music in the noise of their prejudices. Some can't get over Hahn's physical youth and something as absurd as their own resistance to the Tchaikovsky concerto's popularity, to judge the music for what it is. I encourage you to listen to the music with an open mind and appreciate what Hahn has accomplished with this recording.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Odd Couplings 1 Mar 2011
By emmkay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording is rather disappointing, to a certain degree, if you are familiar with Hahn's potential.

First the Higdon: there is no doubt that Higdon is an accomplished composer. In true post-modern fashion, she shows off her knowledge of the modernist and not-so mdernist canon with numerous references to her predecessors, most obviously the homage to the Berg concerto in the opening of the first movement. But one doubts whether this melange will have meaningful staying power as the years go on. While there are some truly engrossing moments, there are others that sound like average film-music: not terribly inventive and actually quite cheesy, especially in the second movement. That said, Higdon certainly knows how to orchestrate and knows how to throw her solist a few bravura virtuoso bones, which Hahn of course knows to make the most of. She is most dazzling, as usual, in her superhuman control of double-stops - a trademark of which Higdon must have been aware, for she gives Hahn numerous opportunities to display this skill.

That said, one wonders how much is rotten in the American classical music business, when a new concerto written by an American composer on a commission from several American and Canadian orchestras (Baltimore, Indianapolis & Toronto) and one American conservatory (Curtis) gets its world premiere recording at the hands of a distincly second tier British orchestra? When will American musicians wake up to the fact that their prehistoric contract structures are doing long-term damage to American musical culture by forcing artists to go abroad due to the prohibitive costs of recording stateside?

The Tchaikovsky shows Hahn falling into her worst habit: obsessive-compulsive cautiousness. I have heard Hahn perform this work live and this recording falls leagues short of her potential. In an effort to make everything sound as meticulously correct and finely calibrated as possible, this studio recording robs Tchaikovsky's blockbuster of all spontaneity, fire and sweep. Perhaps the one to blame here is not Hahn, but Petrenko. While his Liverpudlians boast some fine woodwinds, the other sections sound distincly anemic. They sound overrehearsed, tense even, sometimes falling into march-like heavy downbeats, and never really seem to let the music take off. There is nothing particularly wrong that Petrenko does anywhere in his conducting. He observes the right dynamics, accelerates and slows the tempo in the right places, but it never sounds remotely organic. One thing never seems to directly grow out of what preceded it. It is as if you were listening to a patchwork of very carefully assmbled bits from different rehearsal sessions. There is no cohesion to the whole. Hahn's technique of course is beyond reproach, her mastery is a given. But this remains a deeply disappointing performance, especially knowing what she is capable of and therefore knowing what could have been.

It seems that Hahn was very enthusiastic about the Higdon concerto, which shows her much more at ease and inspired in her performance, while the Tchaikovsky was tagged on as a populist blockbuster to help sell the disc. I do wonder whether that was really necessary, for musically the Tchaikovsky is her weakest recording yet.
29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Perfection just got better! 21 Sep 2010
By Shaun Broderick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD is simply amazing. Hilary, once again, never ceases to amaze me. The Higdon violin concert is a beautiful piece. It really shows off Hilary's perfect skill, especially the cadenza in the first movement. I've never heard anything like it before...ever. This recording is much better at displaying her dynamic contrasts. In her concerts she has the ability to fill the hall with her sound even over the orchestra or play so quietly that you feel the need to lean in to hear every note. This is the first recording of her that has captured a portion of that. After her release of the Shonberg and Sibelius, Hilary had really stepped up her game. She plays the Tchaikovsky with an entirely different interpretation and with amazing ease. Her approach almost cradles the music like a loving mother. Some sections that are played without much care by most violinists, are really emphasized and phrased properly.

If you are the critique that doesn't generally like Hilary, try this CD. You may find this recording exciting and fresh.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Five stars for Higdon . . . Tchaikovsky? not so much 11 Nov 2012
By Stanley Crowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
First of all, Jennifer Higdon's violin concerto -- of which this is the world premiere recording, played by its dedicatee -- is much the more interesting piece on this disc, and Hahn and Petrenko, with the Liverpool orchestra, give it a great workout here. The variety of the orchestral textures, and the ways in which, in all three movements, these are put into conversation with the solo violin (and at times other solo instruments from the orchestra) is constantly engaging to the ear. Hahn plays with great security throughout, and the DG recording captures her and the orchestra faithfully. The long first movement starts arrestingly and even playfully, and undergoes a variety of developments throughout its 19 minutes, ending with sounds reminiscent of the opening, but now seeming eerie or haunting. I should say that the musical language is resolutely tonal and accessible -- this isn't trivial music, but it isn't "difficult" either. For me, the opening of the slow movement is a highlight of the piece -- even before the soloist enters it seems one of the most gorgeous pieces of orchestral writing I've heard in a long time. The movement builds to two arrestingly distinct climaxes, from which the solo violin emerges hauntingly, and throughout the movement the writing for flute, cor anglais (or oboe?), and cello is beautiful. The solo violin in this movement is more part of the texture than in the other movements, and the overall effect is very impressive. The final movement is a short moto perpetuo, well carried off by soloist and orchestra, but not quite as engaging as the previous movements.

The Tchaikovsky coupling is securely played and sounds good -- but it's dull, and not just in comparison to Higdon. Hahn plays it very straight, and comparisons with Grumiaux (with Krenz, 1972) and Heifetz (with Reiner, 1957) find the older virtuosos having much more fun with their parts -- more rubato, more dynamic variation -- and a generally more forward pulse, with which they redeem the thematic material, which in Hahn's hands all sounds a bit alike. But it's a handsome sounding account nonetheless, and I wouldn't let it deter you from buying this disc for the Higdon.
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