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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Schoenberg: Violin Concerto / Sibelius: Violin Concerto op.47
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 March 2008
Since her first recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto coupled with Bernstein's Serenade, Hilary Hahn has continued to surprise with her choice of couplings. The Sibelius concerto with the Schoenberg is no exception.

The Sibelius is well established in the Violin rertoire. It has been well served with recordings by, amongst others, Heifetz, Kyung-Wha Chung, Mutter and most recently by Lisa Batiashvili. All are are prime recomendations. To this one must now add Hilary Hahn with her brilliant technique, and delightful musicality. Her phrasing is a delight to the ear. Salonen and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra's sensual accompaniment is equally well recorded. There is something fresh here even for those, like me, whose shelves are overstocked with this concerto.

However, it's the Schoenberg that's the biggest revelation. The history of this concerto is one of neglect. Heifetz, no less, complained about its unplayablilty saying it needed "a violinst with six fingers" (Schoenberg's reply was that he'd "wait"). The work has lacked a major champion since. And the few performancies I've heard left me unconvinced, even feeling allergic to it.

Until this recording, that is. In the notes, Miss Hahn expresses her enthusiasm for the piece. The love shows through in the playing. Her ravishing tone makes the Schoenberg Violin Concerto lyrical and dramatic. The twelve-tone serials (clearly explained in the booklet) that grated come across as beautiful and sensual instead of cold and analytical. For the first time, I felt moved and even charmed instead of frustrated after listening.

It's possible that the Schoenberg will never be to everyone's taste. Even if that is the case, it will never have a more persuasive advocate than Hahn. The beast that defeated even Heifetz's formidable virtuosity has finally been tamed.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 June 2009
An interesting and I think unique coupling. The Schoenberg Concerto has had a mixed press ever since it appeared. To be sure, it combines lyricism with much more angular and jagged passages, along with some of the loudest and most curiously scored orchestral passages in all classical concerti. It is said that Heifetz bought the music three or four times, worked on it and then decided, after all, not to include it in his concert repertoire. Whatever you think of it as a piece, Hilary Hahn is an eloquent executant. The accompanying notes make it clear that she has worked with it for some time, performed it many times and come to love it, and I think that shows. It is a convincing performance that carries you along (and some credit should go to Salonen, himself a distinguished composer, for that). As for the music, it grows on you more as you listen - it is well worth the effort.

The Sibelius, is, of course, a very familiar and very popular work. There are no special insights from Hahn here - she just plays it very well indeed. Her formidable technical self-assurance are very helpful here. Passages such as the closing pages of the first and third movements, which are often a little sketchy from even quite big names, are absolutely secure, to the benefit of the music. But she doesn't barnstorm it, and the second subject of the first movement, for example, is played at quite a moderate pace, more reflectively than usual. It is true that she plays the third movement very quickly but so accurately that it is completely convincing. In the second movement I prefer Mullova or, indeed, Heifetz, but that does not undermine the excellence of the whole CD, or indeed the 5 stars which it deserves.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 April 2012
Five AMAZING Stars!! Brilliant performances!! Grammy Award-winning violin virtuoso Hilary Hahn is caught at the absolute top of her game in this recording of the legendary, fiendishly difficult Arnold Schoenberg Violin Concerto, Opus 36 (written circa 1934 in California); and then she adds the bracing Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor, Opus 47 (circa 1903) for good measure. Recorded with the superb Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the redoubtable Esa-Pekka Salonen, Ms Hahn shows, beyond question, she is one of today's finest violinists. And with this 2009 Grammy award-winning recording for Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra, her awesome expanding repertoire continues to impress.

The 'pièce de résistance' is the entire beautifully intense 'futuristic' Schoenberg Concerto: a wonderous 12-tone musical mine field: Schoenberg intentionally wrote the piece to be the extreme "unplayable" part of the standard violin repertoire and yet it contains great beauty and lyricism which are clearly revealed in Ms Hahn's remarkable hands. Hilary plays with speed, power, precision, and sensitiivity, attacking the piece in phrases not strings of notes. Mr Salonen & company and Ms Hahn soar beautifully throughout this marvelous performance. Then Ms Hahn adds the difficult, darker (with bright splashes), but more lyrical Sibelius violin concerto and there is no drop-off in intensity or wonder: a perfect companion piece. Hahn plays with incredible beauty on the two blazing violin soliloquies in the first movement: the Allegro Moderato, and the final movement in 3/4 time shows Ms Hahn's great command of nuance and tone. Back-to-back home runs! Ms Hahn performs on an 1864 Jean-Baptist Villaume Guarneus violin. Kudos to maestro Salonen and the orchestra, and of course, the genius composers Schoenberg and Sibelius. Hilary Hahn is AWESOME and this wins her second Grammy. My Highest Recommendation! Five MESMERIZING Stars!! (This review is based on an iTunes download with digital booklet.)
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on 8 April 2008
The Concerto of Schoenberg is a rarity .There are few but fantastic recordings : Amoyal( with Boulez),Baker( with Kraft), and the first to Play it : Louis Krasner( with Mitropoulos). The difference of this magnificent record: The Orchestra and the conductor. The Orchestra is fantastic and Salonen has one enthusiasm with a work that maybe he doesn't like very much. Now lets speak of the violinist : she is amazing. She plays Schoenberg like one "normal" work. Ach , when I remember of what Heifetz said of the work.....it was impossible to him, but not for Hahn.The Sibelius has one enormous concurrence . But it is one of the best recordings that I heard, comparable with Ferras/Karajan and Kavakos/Vanka, my favorites. But what is realy important here is the Schoenberg. Finally one great record of one difficult work, to hear and to play. I would end with a word about this orchestra.By far one of the best in the moment.I want to hear more times this fantastic ensemble!!!
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on 30 May 2016
I play the Sibelius over and over again. Simply a wonderful rendition. Thrilling. Exquisite.
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on 15 July 2008
I found her interpretation of the Sibelius violin concerto less than exciting. To be sure, she plays technically very well, but it all lacks intensity and her playing is overly lyric/romantic/sweet, which does not fit the piece at all IMO. The devilish intensity and despair that should be in the concerto at times is just not there. I can't comment on the Schoenberg - it is not to my taste (which is not Hahn's fault, to be sure, she probably produced the most accessible interpretation of this ugly beast!).
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