Monday, 4 May 2015

Extremely fine performances from Hilary Hahn and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen under Paavo Järvi of concertos by Mozart and Vieuxtemps combined with a first rate recording make a new release from Deutsche Grammophon a real winner

Hilary Hahn took her first violin lessons in the Suzuki program shortly before her fourth birthday. When she was five years old, she met Odessa native Klara Berkovich, with whom she studied until being admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of ten. There, Hahn was a pupil of Jascha Brodsky, who had trained with both the Franco-Belgian master Eugene Ysaÿe and the Russian pedagogue Efrem Zimbalist. She completed her university studies at the age of sixteen, having already made her solo debuts with the Baltimore and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras, the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras, and the New York Philharmonic. She delayed her graduation a few years in order to continue her violin studies, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree at 19, by which time she was a full-time touring musician.

Hilary Hahn has released fifteen albums on the Deutsche Grammophon and Sony labels to great acclaim, winning two Grammy awards. For her latest disc from Deutsche Grammophon  she is joined by Paavo Järvi  and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen  in concertos by Mozart and Vieuxtemps.

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Hahn has known Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.5 and Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No.4 since the age of ten when she was given the violin parts. The first concerto that her teacher at the Curtis Insitute of Music, Jascha Brodsky, brought to her was Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.5.  

The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen give a light and lithe sound to the Allegro aperto of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K.219 with lovely alert playing. Hilary Hahn enters with a lovely pure tone, slowly drawing Mozart’s fine melody before suddenly taking off in the Allegro proper, bringing an equally agile, lithe touch. Järvi and his players allow some distinctive orchestral textures to appear whilst Hahn’s wonderful tone produces some glowing colours and textures. Her superb technique shows up particularly in the cadenza (by Joseph Joachim) but she is not merely virtuosic, drawing such fine textures all with a fine sensitivity.

Hahn brings a lovely flow to the Adagio with her singing tone adding to the beauty. There is a light, spry rhythm with Järvi and the orchestra providing a lovely accompaniment, nicely phrased and nuanced. Indeed the subtle rise and fall in the music is exquisitely done, observing every little twist and turn, with a cadenza that brings some very fine textures as well as fine phrasing.

The Rondeau (Tempo di minuetto) has a finely shaped opening, beautifully phrased and, again, with a lovely control of dynamics. When the music suddenly speeds in the rhythmic Turkish section the orchestra really stomp out the phrases with Hahn providing brilliant playing, full of terrific timbres and phrasing before leading to a lovely serene coda.

Despite the number of recording of Vieuxtemps’ violin concertos, of which he wrote seven, he is not a composer that has really gained acceptance in the concert hall. If anyone can reveal the qualities of Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No.4 in Da minor, Op.31 then it is surely Hilary Hahn and the fine Bremen players under Järvi.

Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen open with an absolutely lovely Andante - Moderato, drawing beautiful playing, so fine textured, allowing woodwind and other instrumental layers to be revealed. The recording adds so much to the detail of orchestral sound. When Hilary Hahn enters she brings an exquisite tone in her hushed entry before rising to some very fine incisive, fiery playing, producing some fine timbres. She follows Vieuxtemps’ every change of mood and provides some terrific runs on the violin before a very fine cadenza.

As we are led into the Adagio religioso, Järvi brings a fine brass passage before Hahn arrives, weaving a lovely line. Both soloist and orchestra achieve a fine, taut partnership, rising up dramatically in some brilliant passages with some exquisitely turned phrases from Hahn.  

There is a beautifully lithe and buoyant Scherzo. Vivace - Trio. Meno mosso with Hahn bringing a playful feel.  This is a really intoxicating performance full of the most tremendous playing with a finely textured Trio section before leading to a sparkling coda, quite stunning.

The Finale marziale: Andante – Allegro receives a lovely orchestral opening, a fine blend of instrumental sounds with an almost Brahmsian feel. The Bremen players under Järvi provide a real weight with crisp playing from Hahn when she enters. This violinist brings some terrific little touches, working her way through some passages of terrific virtuosity, with a freedom of playing that is quite wonderful.

These are extremely fine performances from Hilary Hahn and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen under Paavo Järvi. With a first rate recording and excellent booklet notes this new release is a real winner.

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