add to wish list | library

21 of 25 recommend this,
would you recommend it?

yes | no

Support this site by purchasing from these vendors using the links provided below. As an Amazon Associate earns from qualifying purchases.
  Sony Classical -
  SS 89921
  Mendelssohn, Shostakovich: Violin Concertos - Hilary Hahn
  Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor Op. 64, Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor Op. 77

Hilary Hahn (violin)
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Hugh Wolff, Marek Janowski (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
  Single Layer
Recording type:
Recording info:

read discussion | delete from library | delete recommendation | report errors
Related titles: 5

Reviews: 2

Review by beardawgs January 24, 2004 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
We got all 3 Hahn’s SACDs quite a while ago, and are still a bit confused and unsure how to rate them. Bach disc (see abowe) was a rather easy one – she is consistent all the way through, like it or not. But coupling of Brahms and Stravinsky, and especially Mendelssohn and Shostakovich are unusual, if not shocking. We had the opportunity to sample the Mendelssohn’s concerto at Paul's(nucaleena) and we were initially impressed. To be honest, the main reason for purchasing this disc was Shostakovich’s piece, and there we are quite disappointed.

First things first: if you’re interested in Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in a superb MC sound and equally brilliant performance, don’t waste any time – buy it now. She is a spot on – romantic, but not overblown, appropriately virtuosic and with incredibly accurate pitch. Even the fastest passages are articulate, and she has full tone when needed. She produces here a fine and appropriate mix of virtuosity and expression, and we come back to this recording more than we thought so when we got it. Orchestra and Hugh Wolf are equally good, the orchestral sound image is huge and dynamic, with the soloist given a natural position within.

After such a remarkable performance, 1st movement of Shostakovich’s concerto comes as a huge disappointment. Hahn does exactly what she was doing in Mendelssohn – reads the score accurately. Well, that’s why those two concertos shouldn’t be mixed, as much as exciting it looks on the paper. Shostakovich is a different kind of beast and it requires more than just a brilliant virtuoso. Like in many of the great 20th Century violin concertos (Berg, Prokofiev, Adams, Stravinsky, Szymanowski…) the violin part is not written just as a sole showpiece for the soloist. They are more concertos with the violin, than concertos for the violin. Here, she never becomes expressive voice above the orchestra or part of it. Slow movements are particularly flawed and lacking expressiveness. Hahn is articulate as ever and precise – too precise, and that is the main problem. As if she can’t hear all desperation and grim happening in the dense orchestral texture. She won’t take any risks and in the process she loses what is here needed the most – personality and the sense of narration. (Viktoria Mullova on her classic Philips recording does just the opposite, she constantly moves around the tonal centre to an astonishing effect). The discrepancy between the orchestra and the soloist is even more audible with Janowski’s direction, who knows exactly what this piece is is all about.

Now, there is a lot of fast and furious music here for Hahn to show off again and again. And that is impressive. Unusually long and complex cadenza has its own track number (vanity again, Miss Hahn?), so one can skip straight to track 7 and hear some astonishing solo violin playing. As if someone has worked hard with her on the cadenza, which has all the qualities the other movements are lacking. Or maybe she needed to be on her own, without the orchestra to show what she can really do, not just as a virtuoso, but as a complete performer.

So, if you’re looking for a truly remarkable virtuoso violin playing and like romantic violin concertos, Mendelssohn is among the best I’ve ever heard. There is a lot to enjoy in Shostakovich too, but I can’t get rid of the feeling that she is always trying hard to put herself above the music. Less virtuosic vanity and more musical understanding could do wonders with this remarkable violinist.

PS. It’s difficult to sum up the marks for these inconsistent performances. Mendelssohn is great, but Shostakovich is IMO ruined. Having said that, fast movements and the cadenza are mind-blowing, but the first movement is, well… boring and unremarkable.

Was this review helpful to you?  yes | no

Review by darkroommd January 6, 2007 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Reference recordings for Mendelssohn:
(1) Chung/Dutoit/Montreal on Decca
(2) Perlman/Haitink/Concertgebouw on EMI

This is another typical Hilary Hahn performance, which is a compliment, indeed. Her bravura is on full display here, effortlessly dispensing runs of notes, page after page, with precise intonation and articulation. I'm just not sure her style best serves a graceful and sentimental piece like the Mendelssohn VC. I always sense a nervous impatience about her playing. Nevertheless, she is an extraordinary talent and I thoroughly enjoy all of her SACD's. There is no question that she is technically superior to Chung and Perlman, but artistically a half-step behind.

The Oslo Philharmonic with Hugh Wolff provide an absolutely superb accompaniment here. I have never heard them before but am amazed by their mature, refined, expansive, and balanced sound. Strings and winds both are a treat to listen to. They have no problem keeping up with Hahn's feverish pace. I find the balance between Hahn and orchestra to be spot on.

The multichannel DSD SACD sonics are outstanding as well, perfectly staged and mixed, dynamic and transparent. No unnatural sounds coming from my surrounds, just the right amount of ambiance.

Was this review helpful to you?  yes | no

Works: 2  

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy - Violin Concerto in E minor, MWV O 14 Op. 64
Dmitri Shostakovich - Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77