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Silfra CD


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Silfra + Foreign Landscapes + Volker Bertelmann: Ferndorf
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Product details

  • Audio CD (25 Jun 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B007FOV0UI
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,480 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Hahn: Stillness 1:43£0.39  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Hahn: Bounce Bounce 2:25£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Hahn: Clock Winder 2:41£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Hahn: Adash 5:26£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Hahn: Godot12:33£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Hahn: Krakow 2:40£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Hahn: North Atlantic 6:45£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Hahn: Draw A Map 2:23£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Hahn: Ashes 3:12£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Hahn: Sink 2:00£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Hahn: Halo Of Honey 2:55£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Hahn: Rift 6:26£0.79  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

DGG 4790303; DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON - Germania; Classica da camera

BBC Review

This is the first collaboration between German-born pianist Hauschka and American violinist Hilary Hahn, after singer-songwriter Tom Brosseau brought them together in 2009. In a meditative production role sits Valgeir Sigurõsson, who has worked previously with Björk, Bonnie "Prince" Billy and the French singer Camille. The resulting pieces are completely improvised, but often are suggestive of pre-meditated melodies.

Stillness leads into the jarringly-titled Bounce Bounce, which suddenly imparts agitation, Hauschka’s prepared piano setting off on a jagged gallop. Hahn flays her strings, savagely sawing. Their overdubs build up a chamber ensemble thickness, intensifying their attack. It sounds like Hauschka is slinging heavy objects into his piano interior. But despite this vigour, there’s a light deftness to the duo’s approach and technique.

The first three pieces are all short, establishing varied moods. Clock Winder has a quaintly mechanical character, principally due to Hauschka’s exotic ornamentations of his instrument.

Longer works follow, with Adash adopting a deep, mournful drone tone, Hahn’s citrusy violin recalling the singing string-voice of Gidon Kremer, her tremulous edge kept hovering as the piece builds to a surge. Meanwhile, Hauschka is threshing the piano innards again, vibrating strings into melancholy.

Godot is nearly 13 minutes long, its tiny sound events unwinding as carefully placed piano chords knit with sparse violin curlicues. Hauschka sets up a stutter with his dampened bass key, the sombre gestures exquisitely poised.

To follow, there’s a clutch of more conventionally melodic compositions, but the piano remains adorned with rattles, clicks and extraneous bumpings. This calls to mind the buzzing attachments of a Zimbabwean thumb piano, or the rattling metal discs of a Brazilian pandeiro drum. It’s a sympathetic undercurrent, as found in Indian classical music, or the wheezing drone of a bagpipe.

Hahn and Hauschka’s music has an organic mechanical motion, emerging out of a world that could have been created by Jules Verne or H.G. Wells. There’s a strutting roboticism, but all parts are made woody, wrinkled, leathery, walnut-crinkled and creaking like old bones. The so-called purity of the sweet-voiced piano and violin are continually subverted by carefully applied extraneous sounds.

--Kevin Le Gendre

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RSProds TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 Jan 2013
Format: Audio CD
Five INSPIRED Stars! A great musical duo. On "Silfra", Grammy-winning classical violin virtuoso Hilary Hahn and the inventive avant-garde pianist/composer Hauschka (aka Volker Bertelmann) produce exhilarating, modernist, non-conventional, totally-improvised duo performances. After two years of periodic preparatory sessions, they went to Greenhouse studio in Reykjavik, Iceland for 10 days to produce these amazing musical tone poems. "Silfra" re-introduces us to the adventuresome side of Hilary Hahn (who has performed with a beat-boxer and was last recorded with Valentina Lisitsa playing Charles Ives: Four Sonatas). And it displays Hauschka's prodigious musical acumen and his complex 'prepared piano' with its wide universe of sounds, using objects like ping-pong balls, foil, duck tape, floss, and mallets on the strings to produce sounds like cymbals, drums, clicks, continuous tones, and bell-like sounds whose pitch can be altered to startling effect. Hahn uses her wide palette of violin sounds and effects, arco and pizzicato, very inventively in this partnership. At times, one is not able to distinguish the piano from the violin. These improvisational pieces are neither classical, pop, nor jazz but something uniquely approachable and beautiful, without conventional compositional structure. The 'best of the best' begins with the lovely 1m:43s "Stillness"; the 12 minute "Godot", with Hahn creating some awesome effects over Hauschka's frameworks; the oriental-like "North Atlantic"; the more conventional beauty of "Krakow" and "Ashes"; the eerie "Halo of Honey" with freaky high register Hahn violin notes, and perhaps best of all, the swinging joy of the madcap "Bounce Bounce" and the awesome, bluesy, swinging "Draw A Map".Read more ›
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Boris on 19 Mar 2013
Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
I looooooove it !))))
Great musical pieces , great sounding vinyl!!!!

I looooooove it !))))
Great musical pieces , great sounding vinyl!!!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dennis D. Jensen on 27 Jan 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this for Hilary Hahn's violin play and the improvisations. It certainly lives up to expectations. Until now I've only listened to Hilary's classical music, but she can certainly also handle other genres with her usual perfection and technical master of the violin.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Fassam on 7 Aug 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
arrived quickly and as described
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Hilary Hahn and Hauschka at the Icelandic Improv 22 May 2012
By T. Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
First of all, anyone expecting this to resemble any of violin virtuosa Hilary Hahn's previous work will be severely disappointed. However, this album does fit in very well with certain contemporary music, including a lot of other great music coming out of Iceland. Judged against this background, Hahn and Volker Bertelmann, a master of prepared piano who performs under the name Hauschka, have come up with an exciting set of recordings that pack an artistic and emotional punch.

The album was recorded at the studio of Icelandic producer Valgeir Sigurðsson, who founded the Bedroom Community record label and has frequently worked with Björk. The recording sessions for Silfra lasted ten days, and Hahn and Hauschka brought practically no material with them to the studio. They set out to create new music, and the recording process appears to have mainly been based on basic tracks recorded in joint improvisation which were then filled out with successive layers of overdubs to fill out the sound and add new dimensions.

Broadly speaking, I found two main types of music on this album: rhythmically driven tracks and slower, atmospheric pieces. Where rhythms are strong, they are often downright exuberant. Many tracks -- particularly Bounce Bounce, Adash, Draw a Map, and Sink -- are just a lot of fun. Others, such as Stillness, Ashes, and Rift, are more subdued, wistful and/or contemplative.

The centerpiece of the album, the 12-minute opus Godot, varies between searing atmospherics and edgy, often jackhammer-like percussive sounds from the prepared piano.

The most traditionally structured track is Krakow, which was the only piece of music that did not wholly originate from the Iceland sessions as Hauschka recorded the basic piano track at his home. This is a beautifully melancholy meditation on the grand but also sad Polish city of Krakow.

What does it sound like? Good question that isn't easy to answer. I'd call it post-modern and post-minimalist. I heard definite hints of minimalism, with rhythmic and melodic lines sometimes being repeated, altered and transformed along the way in a manner that could probably be traced back in spirit to Terry Riley's "In C". Adash is a great example of this type of work.

However, this is only one aspect of the album as a whole. In structure, feel and atmosphere, it has a lot of similarities with the music of producer Sigurðsson, who also plays prepared piano on some of his own solo music. Also, the use of simple, beautiful and repitive themes also suggested to me a shared sensibility with one of my favorite contemporary composer-performers, Iceland's Johann Johannsson (with whom Hauschka is actually touring in Europe this summer).

At first I thought that on most pieces the prepared piano -- a normal piano modified by objects placed on or around the strings, hammers and dampers -- was creating a rhythmic and harmonic space within which Hahn could maneuver her violin. But after listening a few more times, I realized the picture is actually much more nuanced. The division of labor between melody, harmony and rhythm is much more evenly divided between the two artists than I had realized at first.

Hahn and Hauschka have a YouTube channel, a Facebook page and a website -- so there is a lot of information and multimedia available out there to explore if you'd like to do that before making a decision. For example, there is a short documentary with interviews and in-studio footage of Hahn and Hauschka. Another is a live-animated video for "Bounce Bounce" -- the first "single" from the album. This video is an amazing artistic achievement in itself, by Brooklyn-based animator Hayley Morris. I thought I saw a few visual references to "The Nutcracker" sequence of Disney's original Fantasia.

Highly recommended, although I imagine there are people to whom this album may not appeal.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Not something I'll often return to 29 May 2012
By congwen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I'm quite fond of prepared piano and certain minimalist works, and I think Hahn is a formidable violinist. When the news about this CD reached my ears, I was excited; I like it when classical musicians record something that hasn't been recorded for a hundred times. After listening to the album, however, I have to say that I'm not that impressed.

The music is pleasant enough, with interesting acoustics, but really, what do you expect when a prepared piano is involved? I laud the musicians for doing improvisations, but I would rather listen to something carefully written out if this is all they can do with improvisations. Hauschka is quite ok, but Hahn... She's a great violinist. In the past, I had the pleasure to hear some truly great improvisations, and I have to say this is not. I feel that the music lacks a real sense of composition that gives a piece structure, that gets me return to a piece over and over again. To me the music itself is not very memorable in the first place, which is fine if it's interesting enough for repeated listening. The thing is, I don't find it interesting enough.

As for the novelty element... Barring the fact that it's done by classical musicians, there's not much new here. You can find similar sounds in many post-rock or ambient albums. If there's something that could have set Hahn and Hauschka apart from those musicians, it's that they could have given the music the level of structure that usually only musicians with classical training can achieve. But oh well... Dare I say, those musicians with much less formal training have done better.

Maybe my expectation was too high. I was hoping to hear the "Tabula Rasa" (a minimalist work written by Arvo Part in the 1980s for Gidon Kremer) of our age - not in terms of style, but in terms of inspirations and impact. Now I guess I'll just have to stick to that for some time longer.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
FASCINATING BEAUTIFUL TONE POEMS BY HILARY HAHN AND HAUSCHKA 22 May 2012
By RSProds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Five INSPIRED Stars! A great musical duo. On "Silfra", Grammy-winning classical violin virtuoso Hilary Hahn and the inventive avant-garde pianist/composer Hauschka (aka Volker Bertelmann) produce exhilarating, modernist, non-conventional, totally-improvised duo performances. After two years of periodic preparatory sessions, they went to Greenhouse studio in Reykjavik, Iceland for 10 days to produce these amazing musical tone poems. "Silfra" re-introduces us to the adventuresome side of Hilary Hahn (who has performed with a beat-boxer and was last recorded with Valentina Lisitsa playing Charles Ives: Four Sonatas). And it displays Hauschka's prodigious musical acumen and his complex 'prepared piano' with its wide universe of sounds, using objects like ping-pong balls, foil, duck tape, floss, and mallets on the strings to produce sounds like cymbals, drums, clicks, continuous tones, and bell-like sounds whose pitch can be altered to startling effect. Hahn uses her wide palette of violin sounds and effects, arco and pizzicato, very inventively in this partnership. At times, one is not able to distinguish the piano from the violin. These improvisational pieces are neither classical, pop, nor jazz but something uniquely approachable and beautiful, without conventional compositional structure. The 'best of the best' begins with the lovely 1m:43s "Stillness"; the 12 minute "Godot", with Hahn creating some awesome effects over Hauschka's frameworks; the oriental-like "North Atlantic"; the more conventional beauty of "Krakow" and "Ashes"; the eerie "Halo of Honey" with freaky high register Hahn violin notes, and perhaps best of all, the swinging joy of the madcap "Bounce Bounce" and the awesome, bluesy, swinging "Draw A Map". The music is influenced greatly by the stark beauty and cultural implications of the Icelandic seascape of the "Silfra" geographical rift, near where they recorded this work. These are fascinating, propulsive, solemn or joyous pieces of cooperative sonic art created by a wonderful musical duo. Produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson. This recording is Highly Recommended. Five MARVELOUS Stars! (This review is based on NPR's "First Listen", the 5 YouTube videos, and an mp3 download of 12 tracks, Total time: 52m:22s. Hilary plays an 1864 Jean-Baptiste Villaume copy of Paganini's Cannone violin.)
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
interesting and inventive 8 July 2012
By Curious Skeptic - Published on Amazon.com
I am not learned enough to bore you with a lengthy review. This disc is just what I like. Adventurous, talented musicians taking chances trying something new. I love the contrasts between pieces and between the musicians. They each benefit from the collaboration and the results show it.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Silfra 24 May 2012
By R. james Tobin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Silfra
This series of improvisations by the duo of American classical violinist Hilary Hahn and German pianist Volker Bertelmann, known as Hauschka, is unique in more way than I can count right now. (Hauschka plays a piano prepared with various objects on the strings--as originated by John Cage in the middle of the last century.) There does not appear to be any precedent for such a collaboration--and an equal one at that. There is a long tradition of improvisation by jazz players, but there has not been much pure improvisation by classical artists since the time of Bach and Beethoven, unless you count some of the aleatory music of the 1960's avant-garde, which was quite different from this. Silfra is intended to evoke the landscape of Iceland and is the result of two years collaboration by these artists, though the music was never written out, just invented at the time of recording.

Hauschka is not a musician I know apart from this release. Hahn has had a high profile internationally and has a seemingly insatiable appetite for new music and new sounds. This project comes immediately on top of the many recent commissions she has made for short new pieces to be played as encores. On this disc one can hear a few of the extremely high notes and harmonics reminiscent of the beginnings of the wonderful concertos by Edgar Meyer and Jennifer Higdon which were written for her.

The very varied rhythms and unusual sonic effects in these improvisations can maintain one's attention and interest to the end. Most of it is quite interesting and some of it is quite beautiful.
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