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Saw Hilary Hahn in recital yesterday at Lincoln Center and all I can say is WOW! This is the third time I have heard her in a year and I am more impressed than ever.

She played: Brahms Sonata 2 in A; Bach Sonata 1 in g minor (solo); Mozart Sonata in F, K.377; and Saint-Saens Sonata No in d minor. If this matters to anyone, she played the entire recital from memory. Avery Fischer Hall was nearly full for this performance.

I heard her play the other two Brahms sonatas last year and while I was impressed with her playing then, I wasn't bowled over. This year though, I knew it was going to be a stunner from her opening notes. She really made that 4-note motif at the beginning, where the violin is basically accompanying the piano, sing. Were we having a recent dicussion on how many notes it takes to judge a performance? In Hilary's case it was apparent by note 4, if not earlier. I especially love that Brahms Sonata and she absolutely lived up to my expectations. Her sound was beautiful, full, singing. Her playing, impassioned. The Bach was awesome (and I am not a Gen-Xer who uses that term lightly!). I have never heard anyone as able to bring out the various polyphonic voices as she - it really does sound as if more than one person is playing and you could easily hear the shape of each phrase. She seems to know exactly why each note is there - where it fits into the whole. Notes were just flying out of her fingers during the Presto, yet nothing was lost or missed or tossed off. The Mozart was charming and sweet - a nice palate cleanser. The Saint-Saens, which I knew the least of all those pieces, was brilliant and beautiful. Others have mentioned her amazing bow arm and I completely agree. I had a great seat from which to observe her bow technique and she is so fluid, yet so rock-solid, if that makes sense. She has complete control over the instrument. Forcing? I don't think so - I have never heard anyone play with such ease and assurance.

I brought with me to the concert, my husband and two friends who are casual concert-goers and not musicians. They have heard me going on and on about how great HH is and wanted to hear for themselves. I asked if she had lived up to all my hype and they said she had surpassed it. They were completely blown away and after the concert the four of us walked over to Alice Tully Hall and bought tickets to Hilary's next NY appearance - performing with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in a performance of all 6 Brandenburg Concerti in December.

In case anyone thinks I am too gushy over Hahn, I overheard one person complaining that there were not any "showy" pieces programmed and in that sense, he thought the concert was a disappointment. Of course, I completely disagree, although I think I understand what he meant. IMO, Hilary makes everything look so easy, people do not always realize how difficult some of that stuff is - I think this guy wanted to see her sweat a little more, but that ain't Hilary.

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Enjoyed your resume. I haven't seen or heard the artiste live and have no recordings, but just heard a snatch of her unaccompannied Bach recently by radio - "Thoughtful" or "meditative" were the descriptions that came to mind. There seem to be some jokes around about her slow tempos, are there? She made me think there's something to the idea of relishing each phrase, chord - with Bach it's rewarding.

Omo.

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Thanks for your account of Hahn's concert. I was sorry to miss it!

I hope that Maestronetters from elsewhere may read this and be inspired to visit NYC and attend some of the wonderful upcoming performances here. Hotel prices have never been better (a friend recently got $100/night rooms at a four star midtown hotel on Priceline), and ticket availability is quite good too. Lincoln Center and other cultural institutions are really hurting right now, and we can all help them while enjoying ourselves at the same time.

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quote:

Originally posted by dobro:

Could anyone recommend a couple of CDs for a listener who hasnt got any of her recordings?

Regards dobro

Right now there are three recordings:

Her first (made at age 17) was of 3 of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas. This is probably the most controversial of the three. The Chaconne is the longest on record (I think), and responses to it vary from unbelievably meditative, thoughtful, and absorbing, to absolutely lugubrious and boring! But most folks pretty much universally love the rest of the recording (except baroque purists.) She has clearly thought out every note she plays -- there is no wasted energy here!

The second recording is the Beethoven Concerto coupled with the Bernstein Serenade.

The Beethoven is "pure", very judicious in rubato (and vibrato!), tempos measured and stately (rather than exciting). The playing is gorgeous -- and the cadenza is, in my judgment, the best on record (other than Kreisler's of course). The third movement is exuberant, and displays the easy, non-forced bowing for which she is justly famous. The orchestra is indifferent. You should know that a decision was made to mike her further away than is often the case in recordings these days, so it sounds more like something you might hear in a concert hall rather than on other recordings. I'm no fan of the Bernstein, so I won't comment.

Finally, a coupling of the Barber Concerto and a new concerto written for her by Edgar Meyer. I'm sure I will offend some here, but I think Hahn's Barber blows away the competition (and I am a fan of Gil Shaham, too.) Hahn plays this as early 20th century, ascerbic, French-influenced music, rather than as overblown post-19th century Rachmaninoff-like Romanticism (for that, listen to Shaham or Stern). Entirely convincing in my book. The 2nd movement is desert-island material. The 3rd movement is the only recording where the soloist (to my ear) is actually making music rather than trying simply to get through the score. The orchestra, however, is not of the quality of the London Symphony Orchestra on the Shaham recording. I like the Meyer piece, too -- it takes two or three listenings to really get into it, but the concerto takes full advantage of her greatest strength -- what is becoming to be known as her legendary bowing technique.

If I had to purchase only one, it would be the Barber. Hahn has 3 more recordings in the works -- Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Brahms Violin Concerto, and the 3 Brahms Sonatas.

Hope that helps. I'm sure others will have different opinions.

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I love the Chaconne, too -- I was just trying to point out that there are lots of folks who don't. (and while I love it, it doesn't come close to approaching Milstein's recording of the 1950s.)

Just my opinion.

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Thank you all for interesting information!I think Ill start out with Bach and take it from there.I just heard her on the radio the other day(a little bit of the Beethoven concerto),and though the radio offered poor sound quality,her fabulous talent struck me...

Regards dobro

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I have all three cds and love all of them. I think her chaconne is the best that I've heard. It is the only one that causes me to step back from admiring the technique to feeling the music. She plays it with a such a sense of poignant yearning and the glory of achieving something great, yet still with a undercurrent of sadness for what has been.

The girl has the gift in spades. Watch out Itzhak, theres a new kid in town.

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