I recently heard Hilary Hahn play the Beethoven concerto with the Gothenburg SO and went home to compare that evening with this recording. Going back to the Beethoven of a very young Hilary Hahn confirmed what I had thought since first hearing this disc: This is one of the truly great recordings of the concerto! Expectation hangs high in the air (to paraphrase Shakespeare) from the first five drum taps and the sense of wonder is sustained all through concerto. David Zinman and the Baltimore SO play precisely and provide not only a background but a worthy companion through the entire concerto. And the violin playing? Had the disc had a bit of surface noise and a more narrow dynamic range, I could have been pursuaded into believing that this might be Milstein or another of the violin gods from 50 years ago. Knowing that this is a girl not yet turned 20 will only make one shiver with anticipation of what the future will bring. She plays with a big, sweet-centered tone and impeccable technique that nonetheless always serves only one purpose: the musical argument. Ms. Hahn chooses to play the Kreisler cadenza instead of the more common one by Joachim, and one cannot doubt that it is the right choice. The Larghetto is a beautiful interlude that seems to exist beyond time and when the end is drawing near in that wonder of a rondo finale, played with joy and most dancelike by Hahn and Zinman, I get the urge to start all over again. The Beethoven is coupled with Bernsteins quasi-concerto. Again, Hahn and Zinman are more than up to the task. The Baltimore SO provides crisp and clear backing for the violinist who in this philosophic piece again belies her age by playing much more mautrely than one would think possible. This recording might even surpass Bernstein's own! All in all, if you already own a recording of the Beethoven concerto, buy this one anyway. And if you are buying your first recording, be careful. Nothing will ever give you the same thrill as hearing Ms Hahn play this work.
Just to confirm last reviewer for everyone. 5 stars. I agree with their assesment.This is Hahn at her best and we are lucky to have her. I cannot think of anything recorded recently that compares with this version too much. One of the best recordings of this of all time? Yes. Probably.