Brahms, Stravinsky: Violin Concertos

Posted by i kadek Mardika on Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The Brahms and Stravinsky Violin Concertos make an unusual and refreshing pair for Hilary Hahn's fourth Sony release. More importantly, her performances are stunning. In both works the young violinist's breathtaking technique, commanding tone, and supreme musical intelligence inform and uplift everything she touches. She adjusts her sonority to Brahms' many swings of mood, from the fiery abandon of her first-movement entrance to her auburn-tinged legato phrasing in the slow movement.





Many violinists make the Rondo's main theme emphatic and choppy, as Kyung Wha Chung does in her recent EMI recording. By contrast, Hahn imparts greater line and continuity without underplaying the movement's jaunty energy, and her phrasing of passagework and virtuosic runs is always governed by overall melodic shape. One revealing case in point occurs in the first movement, where Hahn phrases the two-note sequences over the barlines in a syncopated manner as Brahms asks, rather than on the beat. Those who contend that Brahms was a heavy, thick orchestrator should pay attention to the sheer timbral and textural diversity Neville Mariner unearths in this score. Listen, for example, to the dancing woodwind trills in the third movement, or to the first movement's pointed string pizzicatos (measure 445) against delicate, sustained wind chording.

As for the Stravinsky Concerto, Hahn and Marriner deliver a gorgeously integrated, urbane, and acerbic reading that matches the dash and sparkle of the Perlman/Ozawa/Boston reference version listed above--and then some. Hahn's program notes cogently combine personal observation with succinct musical commentary. Add Sony's ravishing sonics and you've got a major release from one of today's major violinists (you wonder if even Kreisler, Huberman, or Szigeti played so well at 21). But don't forget Marriner and his superb Academy of St. Martin in the Fields: they're anything but your typical backup band! --Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com

MP3 320 · 132 MB

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