The Lebrecht Weekly: Hilary Hahn – Paris (Deutsche Grammophon)

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  • Deutsche Grammophon
  • User Ratings (15 Votes)

When you hear the term ‘multiple issues’ in 2021 it usually signifies that Covid is not the only cause of death. This album has multiple issues.

On the positive side, it marks the return of the US violinist Hilary Hahn after a year’s sabbatical that was doubled in length by pandemic lockdown. Hahn, 41, is one of few concert violinists to enjoy broad media recognition and she is much needed on our empty concert stages.

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Her playing has lost none of her edgy assertiveness or her eye for a selling angle. The album, which contains works by a Finn, a Russian and a Frenchman, is titled ‘Paris’ because Hahn has long dreamed of living there. C’est tout.

The accompanying orchestra is that of Radio France, conducted by its Finnish music director Mikko Franck. In the first Prokofiev concerto Hahn plays with a whispering wonderment that the French winds match with fine, pursed-lip compliments. That, I’m afraid, is the end of the positives.

Hahn’s playing in the Chausson Poème lacks colour, passion and seduction. In terms of traditional interpretation, it is not neurotypical. Nor is it Parisian in any way that I, who am half-Parisian, can recognize.

The concluding pair of serenades is by Einojuhani Rautavaraa, a composer who struggled all life long to escape the shadow of Sibelius by finding other means to express the vastness of the Nordic tundra. The music is late-romantic, perfectly suited in tone and duration to a breakfast radio playlist. It demands few of Hahn’s finely honed skills.  In all, there is barely 50 minutes of music on this release and I’m not sure I’d want more.  As for the album title, I’ve eaten fresher croissants in Helsinki.


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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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