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Violin Concertos

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 57 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Stylistically precise and subdued--it mostly works quite well 2 Jan. 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
There's no need to point out that the Brahms and Stravinsky violin concertos are polar opposites musically, but they also pose contrary problems for the violinist. The Brahms is always played "big" for romantic drama, while the dry-eyed Stravinsky dares anyone to find a style that sounds exactly right. The composer seemed to prefer no style, that is, he wanted detached, objective, rhythmically strict playing. To most ears that makes for a very dry experience, so violinists add expression and hope they aren't violating the score, while in the Brahms they struggle not to sound like another Oistrakh imitation (fifty years ago it was a Heifetz imitation).

Hilary Hahn has found her way in both concertos. Her Brahms is small-voiced, deliberate to the point of caution (one is reminded of Menuhin with Furtwangler), and carefully molded. It's a bit like hearing Kathleen Battle sing Wagner, but overall her style works. Hahn's great virtue is consistency--she keeps all three movements toned down, even the finale. There is no gypsy abandon here, and the accompanist, Nevile Marriner with the chamber-sized Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, follows Hahn's lead, providing a subdued, lyrical background to her forwardly placed solo. I doubt that this reduction would carry well in a large concert hall, but it sounds charming on CD, and how often can you say that the Brahms D major is charming?

In the Stravinsky Hahn blends into the orchestra a good deal more, playing first among equals in a game of neo-classical counterpoint. Her expressive touches are small but definite; she is sweeter and more songful than earlier soloists in the part. But a listen to Perlman or especially Vengerov reveals that there is a lot more room for slashing strokes, swoops, sharp edges--in ohter words, the soloist can take over. Hahn chooses not to and gives a lovely reading because once again she is consistent and detailed.

Overall, the comparison to Kathleen Battle is pretty apt--here is c charmingly feminine artist who wins the listener over through sweetness and personal magnetism.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Stunning Stravinsky 3 Mar. 2004
By C. Razzell - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I purchased this disc for the Brahms, on the basis that it would be a sure bet as far as my own conservative music tastes are concerned. Besides, as a delighted owner of several other Hahn recordings for Sony, I knew she would bring her formidable musical intelligence, sensitivity and commanding tone to bear on an already familiar, well-loved composition.
However, I was unexpectedly blown away by the Stravinsky. Here the synergy and creative energy generated by the combined talents of Sir Neville Marriner, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the solist, Hilary Hahn are nothing short of miraculous. It really makes Sir Neville sound like he is 21 again, and Hilary sound as if she has all the experience of Sir Neville's 76 years!
The georgeous sound quality captured by the recording engineers on this CD is no more than the performances deserve. If you have an SACD player, you will want to benefit from the high resolution of the SACD version (B00005RIN6).
Whichever format you choose, this is one of those rare recordings where everything is right. In my book, this recording gets top marks for for musical interpretation and top marks for sound quality. Very exciting -- don't hesitate.
36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Utterly Dazzling! 6 Sept. 2002
By Dupont - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Hilary Hahn has produced yet another beautiful recording!
This Recording of the Brahms is simply sensational, and my personal favorite, over ones by Heifitz, Perlman, Chang, Vengerov, and Stern. Sir Neville Marriner also works wonders with The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. In the first movement, the orchestra steps up boldly, yet without an overly loud or overdone tone. Hilary steps up into the spotlight with a mature, steadfast, and dazzling phrase. She grasps the listener and holds hime or her there until the movement comes to a perfect close. In the second movement, Neville Marriner does a wonderful job with the woodwind scoring. The principal parts shimmer and glitter, until Ms. Hahn joins them as the most beautiful gem of all. Her arching tone sears in and out of different volumes, moods, yet keeps the serene peacfulness we can only assume Brahms intended for this movement.
I simply love the third movement, Hilary Hahn jumps in right away boldly and bravely. She plays it swiftly with just a perfect amount of aggresion. She really makes the violin sing, and the orchestra runs right along side her. Your breath is simply caught at the stunning finale, and She draws it to a awesome close.
But what of the Stravinsky. I can imagine that the first impressions can be about more varied than anything else in the world, from "Creative!" to "Weird" down to "Just plain stupid". It's definetely interesting to listen to, and it grows on you until it stands right alongside the Brahms, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn and some of the favorite concertos ever.
This concerto happens to have four movements, unlike most concertos, and MOST unlike most violin concertos.
Hilary Hahn matches the creativity of the piece itself with a wowingly imaginitive interpritation that really imprints each movement in your head. Each movement focuses on one main mood, and captures it perfectly. Quite a portrait of a concerto. Hilary's performance is stunning, and truly best of the few recordings out there.
The CD contains fascinating information on the composing of the concertos, the descisions behind the CD, as well as pictures of the performer, a illustrative discography, and links to cool webpages of Hilary's. Done up in a mature, attractive, proffesional design, the CD looks just as good on the shelf as it sounds inside the CD player.
This CD is an absolute MUST for your CD library. At a very affordable price for the best recording of each of the concertos, what more could you want?
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Another triumph 14 Dec. 2001
By Rodney Hrvatin - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The very first time I heard Hilary live was at the time of her 2nd album (Beethoven/Bernstein). From that moment on I knew she was destined for greatness. In my mind, I find it hard to separate Hahn and Leila Josefowicz in terms of their immediate impact. Both choose to record standard as well as uncommon repertoire on the same CD (like Josefowiczs' Mendelssohn/ Glazunov recording) and both have near flawless techniques that show maturity far beyond their years.
This recording continues that belief.
It must be incredibly hard to decide to record the Brahms when so many violinists (both living and deceased) have recorded it before. As proven by many reviewers on this page, once you hear what is conceived to be the perfect performance, no recording will change that opinion.
To listen to Hilary Hahn play the Brahms is a mesmerising experience and this comes off the back of my studying of the instrument, the concerto and hearing it live and on cd many times by various artists. Is the fire there in the cadenza? Yup. Is the passion and commitment there? Absolutely. Is the technique there? You betcha. How can one ignore this performance? Hahn shows incredible depth and perception in her playing throughout her performance. To me, a good performance of the Brahms is one where you don't look at your watch during the first movement. I didn't.
Following on from the Brahms is the magnificent oddity of Stravinsky's concerto. An absolute gem of a piece and one which suits Hahns more aggresive (and expressive) playing well. The last movement (like the final movement of the Barber on her previous release) is worth the cost alone.
All the while Neville Marriner and the ASMF do a credible job with the accompanying work. I must admit that they do fire up well and truly for the Stravinsky (as I am sure they haven't played it as often as the Brahms).
This is sublime playing and an important release not to be ignored. Hahn isn't a master in the making. She's a master already.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Undeniable maturity in Hahn's performance! 20 Nov. 2001
By siangrila - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I went out to the stores the day after this CD was released in the States, hoping, keeping my fingers crossed that I'd be able to find it in Singapore. It was a joy to finally find it, and its 4 days later, and I'm still savouring it (i.e. listening to it every time i turn on my CD player).
The acoustics are good for Hilary Hahn's Vuillaume, her notes are spot on clear! Her technique has improved immensely since the Barber/Meyer album, and (no offence to the ASMF or Sir Neville) I feel she outshines the orchestra in this album. This recording will give you a good idea of how brilliant she is performing live. The album gets 4 stars only because i think the orchestra (competent as it no doubt should be) lags behind Ms Hahn, but the violinist gets a full 5. You guys should go see her perform live if you ever get the chance, but if not, this album brings out her brightness crystal clear.
While the Brahms is a classic gem, the Stravinsky is clearly something more modern, but Ms Hahn shows that she masters both flawlessly, with emotion (for the Brahms), fire (for the Stravinsky), and great skill. A must have for every good music collector!
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