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  Sony Classical -
  SS 89469
  Brahms/Stravinsky: Violin Concertos - Hilary Hahn
  Brahms/Stravinsky: Violin Concertos

Hilary Hahn (violin)
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Sir Neville Marriner (conductor)
Track listing:
  1-3. Brahms: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 77
4-7. Stravinsky: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D

Total Time: 61:25
  Classical - Orchestral
  Single Layer
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Producer: Thomas Frost
Recording Engineer: Richard King
DSD Engineer: Andrew Halifax
Assistant Engineers: Andrew Granger, Jake Jackson
Post-Production Engineer: Andreas Meyer
A&R Manager: Susanne Schmidt

Recorded at Air Studios/Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead, London February 25, 2001 (Stravinsky) & June 13-14, 2001 (Brahms)
  An earlier Dual Layer pressing caused a problem with some Marantz players.

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Reviews: 3

Review by darkroommd January 6, 2007 (8 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Reference recordings of Brahms:
(1) Heifetz/Reiner/Chicago on RCA (RBCD)
(2) Perlman/Giulini/Chicago on EMI (RBCD)

The Brahms VC is a piece that, like other Brahms pieces IMHO, grows on you with each playing. It's almost like you can perceive the anguished deliberations of the man as he penned the notes. But the end product is one that has so many layers of interest that, while perhaps exhausting to hear on first playing, give you great reward as a repeat listener.

Sonically speaking, this is an unfair comparison. This SACD is superior, especially with respect to the Heifetz. Clarity, dynamics, staging, and ambiance are all superior. The balance of soloist vs. orchestra is perfect here, IMHO. On the Perlman, soloist is a bit too forward, and the low strings are a bit lost in the mix. On the Heifetz, the orchestra is the least transparent, almost to the point of sounding monaural, and Heifetz himself seems too far back.

Musically, Perlman has a captivating style with the greatest command of the lyricism of the Brahms, but suffers occasionally with intonation and accuracy on difficult passages. Hahn always plays with great confidence, seemingly throwing caution to the wind. She seems to focus more on perfect intonation and articulation. No question, she does this exceedingly well. I would compare her favorably to Hiefetz legendary technique, and find them to be quite similar overall.

Mariner's Academy are in top form for Hahn, especially from the strings. They cannot quite match Chicago's sweet sounding winds and brass. Overall, the orchestral performances are all spectacular and they are hard to separate other than the fact the SACD captures Hahn and Mariner so much better.

BOTTOM LINE: This will be my new favorite Brahms, mainly because the quality of the recording makes up for whatever deficiencies (all extremely minor and debatable here) there are in the music.

Not being a fan of post-romantic music, I cannot comment fairly on the Stravinsky, but the performance and sonics are on par with the Brahms.

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Review by JW August 6, 2003 (4 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Sincere apologies to everyone who was involved in making this SACD, but the only reason I bought this was that I needed a 'dual layer' disc to perform a laser alignment procedure on my Sony player and this disc was recommended - dual layer means a stereo and multi-channel SACD layer but no RBCD layer. That in combination with my limited knowledge of the classical reportoire should disqualify me immediately from actually creating a review as such, so just read this as some observations from someone who likes classical but is by no means an expert.

With that out of the way I have to say that the Brahms piece is really nice. There is a tension in the violin playing that is quite compelling. This work is not overpowering from an orchestral point of view and there is lots of solo violin to enjoy, gently played.

The Stravinksy is more modern than the Brahms (the two are separated by about 100 years!) and starts with delicate and airily played Tocata. The entire piece I would characterize as being light on its feet or playful. It's very beautiful in my opinion and invites multiple listening sessions to really discover its many facets.

Hahn has been mentioned in the same league as Anne-Sophie Mutter which is saying something indeed and even for those of us with relatively little exposure to classical music I would think that Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy or St. Martin In The Fields do not need any introductions. So this disc has impeccable credentials.

Soundwise it's very good as well with a natural tone for the violin and lots of air around the orchestral pieces. So there you have it, an almost truly universal disc that can do your laser-alignment and satisfy you musically and sonically :-) The only thing lacking is a CD layer.


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Review by beardawgs January 24, 2004 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A similar story as with Hahn’s Mendelssohn/Shostakovich disc, so I’ll be short: Brahms fantastic, Stravinsky good, could be better, but still better than Shostakovich.

She seems to be much more comfortable with the romantic repertoire, she can really paint the slow movements, and her virtuosity is remarkable. My only big disappointment here is the conductor, Neville Marriner, who has long passed his prime. To be honest, he was never one of my favourites, but at least in the 70ties he was doing a good job with ASMF, nowadays they play on the autopilot and are comfortably enjoying the old day’s accolades. Especially annoying is rather unsophisticated woodwind’s playing in the Brahms’ slow movement, where Hahn is truly remarkable. Sony was bombarding her with different orchestras and conductors for every recording, no wonder she left them.

Anyway, IMO Stravinsky works better here than Shostakovich on the other disc, her range of colours and tone is vide and appropriate. Slight reservation about her consistent desire to dominate, but in this concerto that can be more of the advantage than a drawback. Again, top marks for virtuosity and articulation, and good romantic feeling in the Brahms’ concerto. This is just one of the possible views on Stravinsky, and I still won’t be parting from Perlman’s recording on DG, coupled more appropriately with the Berg’s concerto. But I’m sure Stravinsky would have loved it, for its youthful flamboyancy and speed.

Comparing to the other Sony SACD of hers, the sound image is more constrained, but the orchestra is smaller anyway, and you can hear that. Soloist is here more prominent, again, it really depends on personal expectations and understanding of this pieces. I always preferred more symphonic approach for the Brahms, but that’s just a minor thing really. Overall, more consistent performance of Stravinsky than of Shostakovich, equally brilliant Brahms as Mendelssohn.

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Works: 2  

Johannes Brahms - Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77
Igor Stravinsky - Violin Concerto in D (1931)