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Reviews: Bach: Violin Concertos - Hahn/Kahane

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Reviews: 4

Review by stvnharr November 29, 2003 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Hilary Hahn's new disc for DG is a real delight. Few pieces are as familiar as these 4 concertos. I found Ms. Hahn's playing here to be good as ever, as all her recordings have been. It was nice to hear a slightly different take on the C Minor Concerto, BMV 1060, with the oboe replacing the more familiar second violin.
One thing is for sure, the sound of modern instruments here is quite different from that of the baroque instruments on the Harmonia Mundi cd of these same pieces by the Academy of Ancient Music. Be nice to have that one on sacd some day.
I found the stereo mix on this disc to be quite good. After the Karajan Ninth fiasco, one doesn't quite know what to expect from DG. But this one is good.

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Review by beardawgs January 14, 2004 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Hilary Hahn claims that her idol is Nathan Milstein. These performances canít be further away from his legacy. Where Milstein is deeply personal and authentic, Hahn has no personality whatsoever. Where he is metaphysical and mysterious, she just reads the score. And at what speed!

One can see here pure triumph of music over interpretation. One can also be ironic and see here just a vanity overdose. She can play fast, she has all the notes in her fingers, she can do whatever she likes with her instrument. Iím not sure that even the hardcore supporters of authenticity when the baroque music is concerned would necessary approve her (lack of) approach. Itís fun up to the point, but after a couple of hearings, this disc becomes just a background music. Once you get over the initial admiration of her virtuosity, there is not much left here to listen to. Or maybe Hahn has nothing to tell us apart from Ďlook mommy how fast I can playí. She is apparently already recording Elgarís concerto and Lark Ascending by Vaughan-Williams, letís hope sheíll hold her horses next time.

The recording is ok, rather good for DG, at least they are coming to their senses. I would prefer slightly wider sound image, but all the instruments are focused and naturally placed (in MC). I also like the solo instrument quite immersed in the picture and not being put too much forward in front of the orchestra.

As for the ratings, itís difficult to wrap it up Ė she is an amazing violinist, but I couldnít hear the performer here. Someone might find that appealing, but I prefer my Bach more personal. Full marks for the effort and energy, precision and virtuosity. But thatís all I can hear here.

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Review by Windsurfer March 8, 2005 (6 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Hilary Hahn's performance has been described as "too fast". I disagree. I think this is the perfect way to play this music. I have no quibbles with Hahn the artist, and certainly none with the technical perfection of her playing. I think it is masterful, beautiful. What I don't like is what DG has done to the sound of her violin, and that of the orchestra. Now I wasn't there in Los Angeles to hear this recording but I did hear her play it in Skaneatles NY two years ago and never a shrill note did she make! That is not so with this disc. I have a Sony DVP 9000 ES upstairs which plays stereo only into an Onyko receiver and Celestion SL-6si Loudspeakers. Downstairs is a multi channel system employing ribbon tweeters and pretty decent electronics. I have yet to hear a recording of HH that yields the beauty of her tone (I have been to 8 of her performances in the last 3 years, 4 of them since September 2004 - the last was in Baltimore just two weeks ago so I think I know what she sounds like and DG just doesn't have it right folks! I wish wholeheartedly that she recorded for Telarc or BIS! Still I recommend that you buy this for the toe tapping energetic performances that make stuffy old Bach come to life! Note it wasn't Bach that was wrong, it was a stogey performing tradition that made his music seem so academic. Hahn puts things right!

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Review by darkroommd December 20, 2006 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I thoroughly enjoy this SACD. Hahn's performance is technically dazzling and flawless. She plays with stunning confidence and perfect intonation. The tempi ARE fast but create a wonderful energy in this music. The orchestra and soloist are in perfect agreement.

The SACD format does great justice to the performance; to me the greatest differences are the dynamics and detail. You can hear every resonance, every nuance in the decay, all distortion-free. Pick out one instrument in the orchestra and follow its voice.

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