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on 29 November 2003
What a brilliant performance! Contrary to some comments I have read already (“too fast”), I find the choice of tempo is just right –“fast” movements are energetic and with a tightly focused sense of rhythm which is utterly compelling, and the slower movements are played with an finely judged intensity and beauty, especially in the concerto for oboe and violin. Bach’s secular music is for playing for the sheer sake of enjoyment, as much as anything else, and I particularly like the sense of naturalness and spontaneity in these performances which make them sound live rather than the product of studio sessions. I am no violin player myself, so I can’t comment on Ms Hahn’s technique except to say that I don’t even think about technique or feel I need to comment on the standard of her performance (or indeed any of the other musicians) when listening to this disc - the music simply shines through and it just sounds so “right”. I believe this recording will quickly become a reference standard. What I particularly appreciate (and this is a feature of all of Hilary Hahn’s discs) is her own personal comments in the CD booklet about how she relates to the music – why don’t other musicians do this? Music is such a personal thing and it’s great to personalise the recording like this instead of most CD’s where usually nothing is said about or heard from the artist. The sound quality on the SACD is great – string instruments are, to my mind, never properly captured on 44kHz, 16bit PCM, whereas their timbres are realistically portrayed in this recording.
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on 7 November 2009
This is way better than good. Way better than brilliant... there is loads of energy in the orchestra... it's vibrant. Hilary is astounding as always. I can't really find anything wrong anywhere. I decided to write this review because I saw someone gave it a one star and said the tempi are slow. That's untrue in the extreme. This is so refreshingly special, and the tone is especially sophisticated compared to period performances on authentic instruments. I am encouraged by the reviewers who see (hear) the light; the morning Bach review is spot on, and so are many others. I also like the review that claims Bach would like his CD signed by Hilary Hahn. I totally agree; of course he would. This recording is the culmination of centuries of modern violin development. It satisfies in every way; technically and musically. It is one of her many outstanding discs.
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on 15 March 2007
I respect the feelings of people who insist that Bach and contemporary composers be played in a period style. Sometimes this can indeed be "fresh" and successful, although most of such recordings tend to suffer from an overly academical approach, rather an "analysis paralysis" scenario. Still, there is a place and definitely a market for such material (I own a number of such period instrument recordings that I enjoy greatly). The reverse is also true. Let's face it, it's a rare pleasure for a musician to own, or even have access to high quality period instruments, and if you are one of the lucky ones, these instruments tend to be tackiturn and extremely difficult to play. Which is most likely the reason why instruments evolved over the millenia into their current form. Modern instruments are powerful tools, capable of so much more in the hands of a skilled musician than, say, it's Baroque equivalent. Yes, you can be true to the original intent with modern instruments, but it very rarely does the music justice. Trying to emulate a Baroque playing style on a modern instrument is rather similar to driving a powerful sports car at 5 miles per hour. A Ferrarri does not drive well at this speed, since it wasn't designed to do so. The result is a thoroughly bad driving experience.

I cannot help but think what J.S. Bach would have thought about the spectrum of modern instruments available today were he alive, ranging from the huge modern concert organs on the one end of the spectrum, to the modern stringed instruments on the other end (not to even mention electronic instruments). In my minds eye I can see him being in total hysterics, flitting from one instrument to another, sampling, trying, revelling, enjoying himself immensely. Which is why I think that he would, in context as well as in spirit, totally approve of Miss Hahn's rendition of his concertos (I'm sure that he would even want her to sign his CD copy).

Yes, there are tons of pedestrian and boring modern renditions of Bach's music available today (some sadly to say the products of well-known pedagogues and leading academics of the day). This particular recording does not fit into that category at all. To give this a "1" means that you have totally missed the point. This recording is alive, vital, bubbling and fresh. Miss Hahn's technique is so blindingly excellent and accurate that it ceases to be an "issue", leaving you to trust her implicitly in leading you trough the music. Being a musician myself, I cannot but help to listen analytically to everything I hear, but in this recording I can close my eyes and allow the flow of music to sweep me along. Normally such "trust" has to be earned, but Miss Hahn instills this in you at an instinctive level.

I cannot get enough of this recording, a serious must-have. To call this recording a "reference recording" would do it grave injustice, it's simply that good. Miss Hahn, there can be no doubt that you are a superstar indeed!
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on 9 March 2013
This is an exciting, vibrant recording of some of Bach's finest string compositions. As a violinist myself, this music spurs me on to achieve greater things! Hilary Hahn's virtuosity shines through like gold; a exemplary technician on this instrument!
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on 8 December 2013
i love everything about Hilary Hahn's performance of Bach music.
For a slight lady she produces a strong tone from her Stradivarius violin.
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on 3 January 2006
Having just read the comments of some of the other reviewers and taken them seriously... and just played Yehudi Menuhin playing the same pieces with my eyes closed I can safely say that this version is bright, zestful, beautiful and actually quite wonderful and very well held together under it`s own logic. I don`t see this piece as being from any genere or interpretation of Bach at all. I think it is quite refreshing and very high quality recorded. I LIKE both Menuhin and this. There are no faults here or old fashioned aspects. Bach is timeless anyway...Neither are there any post modern shallowness..Some of the last reviewers here have totally miscontrued the starting place for my review on this. This is a lovely interpretation of Bach and one that holds itself with all the classic versions VERY WELL INDEED. I am at a real LOSS with the people who gave this album a low rating. I quite think this collection is quite brilliant and I just came to this cd after playing Paganini. I`m sorry to disapoint some people but Hahn is a real talent and has a real vitality and very valid interpreatation without getting too technical I`m quite sure Bach would have been very pleased to hear! This is lovely music and it is NICE to have youthful vibrant interpretation of it. Bach I am guessing did write music for young people as well not just people with pre conditioned ears. Hahn knows what she is doing and she does it very well indeed from where I am. I`m not surprised at all DG gave her a recording contract. Musically I think this is excellent/ TRY a few versions of this back to back of other classical violinits and play this one. You`ll see what I mean.This piece holds up really well. More than you think it does. It`s so fresh. I`m quite prepared to stand up for Hahn as I did for Kennedy. Some of their stuff like ALL utterly brilliant ( NOONE gets it all right ). This is one of my favourite Hahn albums. I don`t think I`m in the shallow side of interpretation.I think she is a real delight. I REALLY liked this piece and how she plays. A real privilige. Add it and and play it with other Bach. It is delightful and zestful music. I think our bad reviewers could do with listening to some Paganini to open their idea of what they think BACH is. And brush away a few cobwebs. There`s real feeling and great technical expertise in Hahns playing.There`s sensitivity, poetry even and understanding and delightful magic to her work. I am dumbfounded some so called seeming experts cannot see this. It enough to turn me against a few cristics and critics in general. I wonder what kind of lives some people must lead to object to this as music so much to score it with a 1 and what prejudice they must have with them. Ignore the 1`s this is GOOD/GREAT music. Listen to it and to some others, and go back to it again. See what I mean. Hahn has done well.I`m only sorry for her more people don`t see it. Thankyou Hahn. I really enjoyed this. Any new interpretation of Bach in such a sunny way is always a real pleasure!!! I`m not so sure this is as far off as Bach wanted it as some people mkae out either. People are so full of what they THINK Bach is and what they are sued to and social conventions in the 50`s and all of it REALLY is just fashions of the time with more prejudiice in it than many think. This piece is surprisingly jsut very good violin playing. You can bet your bottom $ the real BACH would have loved it. Hahn is great and we are going to see more of her. I`m already with her..and will be following her progress with great interest. You heard it here first! People go on about maturity etc.. Just sometimes!! Youth and zest and innocence and all the magic of all of that and wonder and all is more than maturity.It amazes me how in University Challenge sometimes the teens outstrip the older folk in the oldies series in speed and getting the questions right!! I`m not getting at he oldies I`m just saying..SOMETIMES someone young can get it right and play really well and it is the oldies that can`t see it or hear it as they are suffering their own prejudices and habits. I can asure you ...that anybody who REALLY knows music,,Hahn has done very well. if she ever repeats a recording of this in say 10 years...It MAY be very interesting to hear but I`m not so sure that some of us will like it as much. That`s quite radical. I`m sticking up for youth. I LOVED this interpretation.It was free flowing and erudite, clean and bright and pure and generally...inspiring. I was inspired in a fresh and delighted way after hearing this all the way through. Not reconstituted like a post structuralist or set in a time but freed by the sheer virtuosity and passion of it. I heard a new BACH in this piece and one I`m pleased to know.It sounds so plausible. Youth.Lacking maturity in intepretation. Sometimes it is nice to just hear someone play with such a talent and in such an upbeat and free way with such grace and purity and freedom. I wish I could have just written a normal short review of this but I ahve been boxed in by two others. I can assure you they are WRONG. This is beautiful BACH. Very free flowing and not structued in on itself like some analogue stiff upper limped assumed steady state theory of the universe. Open your mind a bit..that the universe is expanding at the speed of light in all directions every second and put this disc on with your breakfast one morning and you might just get it!! Hahn is a mighty fine player and I am expecting some very special things from her in the future..We already have some special stuff already and this is one of the discs that is!!
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on 27 June 2008
I can't take the 1-star review seriously. It has no merit at all. This one of my favourite recordings, and certainly of this material I can't imagine a better interpretation, only a different one. The sound is just just so fresh and the tempi chosen seem to me to be perfectly chosen in the sense that when you listen to this recording, the last thing you think about is whether it is or is not the right tempo, or whether the technique is good or whether the vibrato is to your liking etc etc. The music speaks, and that for me is the yardstick for a true musician - you don't play for applause, you play for the music. And let's not forget that it's not just Hilary who is brilliant on this, all the musicians are!

To say that Hilary should not play Bach at this stage in her career is just plain stupid. Just listen to her brilliant first recording for Sony when she was still a young teenager - guess what: it was Bach!

As an aside, my favourite all-time Hahn recording is her Beethoven Violin concerto. I am just waiting now for her to record Tchaikovsky.
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on 28 July 2012
I find myself between the two schools of thought over this recording. On the one hand I like the kind of objectivity in Bach playing that Ms.Hahn brings to these performances, and of course her agility and intonation are mostly impeccable. On the other hand I prefer this music less fiercely presented than it is here, which can come to seem a touch heartless (to my ears it also causes one or two microseconds of rhythmic insecurity in the A minor concerto's first movement, though I didn't notice this elsewhere). Perhaps a wish to provide a contrast for this general approach is also responsible for (again, to my ears) the overly emphatic rallentandos at the end of some movements.

For me overall then: good in parts, a classic candidate for 3 stars.
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on 3 January 2006
Fresh, high altiude clear Zen like virtuoso precision. Pretty good. This is Bach in the morning. That in itself is it`s own greatness all unto itself. Listen to a few samples. It might seem lacking with one minute fragments but I can tell you the entire disc is a special crystl clear recording... This and Hilary are all fresh mountain snow water mountain streams in the Morning sun to me. I quite like my Bach in a LA cocktail glass on the rocks. THis version has a certain clarity and flair. I don`t much go for the post modern debate or any of that. In the great annuls of time... due to the fact that most people like great music and the best lasts. This is a good and interesting version in it`s own right. Whether it ends up being played more than other versions or pieces in your collection I do not know. But it is a special version for all of that. First time to Bach? Why not. It`s ALL here. Contrary to what more traditiionists mught say. I`m one of those who think people m,ight get a shock if they went back in time to Bach`s period and herd a few things. People play well NOW and they are professional and probably more well practised and the recording quality now is the ultimate. Bach. Pure and clean by a real lady who knows who stuff.If maturity is the argument for Bach then maybe we have more to look forward to from Hilary Hahn. In which case I`m glad I bought this one to compare it with later on. I like her style. I`m not stuck in the 50`s and 60`s....and I know alot of Bach and Mozart... and she is fine at both. Both are HUGE in their range of intepretation. I like her style.I like her youth and the apparent "faults" other see in it. Shakes head. It is great for what it is. It also has ZEST. and Youth and clarity... Of all my Bach versions of these pieces. I`m rather fond of this one. I hope for more from Hilary in the future. Hilary CAN play Bach and she plays it well. Hopefully well enough to zestfully whipe away a few cobwebs from some peoples minds of the die hards. And believe me. I have nothing against old recordings of operas and many of my versions of things are in the 60`s and some Bach in the 70`s. There was a change over in the 80`s in some interpretation somewhere and I for one rather liked it. I also like the new fresh approach of Hilary Hahn. Shows how great an artist Bach was for others from newer decades and centuries to keep on coming up with newer and fresher approaches. Hilary Hahns Bach is quite valid and more than a little refreshing. And I remain personally excited what she is going to come up with in the next 10 and 20 years AS WELL! She a rare and gifted musician and I cannot bear to see someone of so much obvious talent and interpretation skills and their style itself a cutting tool of clarity being given a 1. So if you are out there Hilary. Here`s a 5 and well deserved. And if I get tickets I`ll come and see you up in London. IT`s alright going for contemporary artists as well as bonified studio classics and all time recomended best recordings of pieces. I myself usually stick to most of these myself.They do make sense. Connisseuers often get it right. ALSO sometimes Connisseuers can also get it wrong. Hilary Hahn has a talent..Nigel Kennedy did. I adored his 4 seasons and he gets some stick. And Who else Maria Callas... and her interpretation was sublime. There`s always this 2 camps things with some stars. Trust me. She`s great. I`m pretty orthodox in most of my views and artists. But there are a few pieces and a few artists which court some controvesy sometimes and it is only because they really are good and original themselves. She`s a blessing to us all and I`m very sorry for our chap from Moscow who seems to think otherwise. I would recomened maybe other cds from Hahn first.. like her Mozart sonatas and other... but nevertheless that`s more a personal choice of music. This is a great version and I`m glad she made it exactly as it is. I do not regret giving it a 5. Worth adding to anyones collection. That`s the beauty of some music and interpretations that try to say something a bit new and a bit more sometimes. Hilary Hahn is giving us a freshness and a new kind of beauty in her playing. I really pity those that cannot hear it. Excuse my Nigel Kennedy and Callas example. But it anoys me when obvious talent gets a hammering sometimes from the oddest of quarters. let the music speak for itself. This is a great version. Bold as well. And one of my choice discs to start the morning with. We all have some of these... what shall I nplay this morning and what to have with breakfast.This is not to belittle it in anyway. It is just one of the most positive ways I know in how to start my day. A seasoned favourite and someone whose career I for one will be following and buying more of her cd`s as and when they come up. Zest and brilliance. Top stuff.
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on 20 October 2012
Take a look at miss Hahn's picture on the cover art while imagining a perfectly articulated reading of a piece of text ... by a computer.
This is the best way I've found to describe the impression made on me by this recording. A technically proficient reading of the word, without the spirit. Some people may be able to appreciate some abstract beauty in this heartless interpretation.
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