I’ve not mentioned Hilary Hahn before except once in passing, but as far as violinists go she is one of the greats – everybody thinks so. I have thought that she makes the violin sound like it has buttons. There’s a phenomenal YouTube recording of her playing Mozart’s 3rd Violin Concerto for Pope Benedict’s birthday a while back if you’d like a primer.
On March 31, the star released a Deutsch Grammophone (Anne Sophie Mutter’s label too) recording of Mozart’s 5th Violin Concerto and Vieuxtemp’s 4th, which she plays under the direction of Paavo Jarvi with The Deutsch Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. As faithful readers will know, Mozart 5 is one of my current obsessions – I can’t get enough of it. When I learned about this album I knew I had to have it, so on Monday I downloaded it.
I listened to the Mozart immediately, and I’m currently listening to the Vieuxtemps, which I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before. I’m enjoying learning more about Vieuxtemps – I’ve listened to his 5th concerto a few times. Like Mozart, Vieuxtemps was a prodigious violinist. Unlike Mozart, he kept to that instrument his whole life, while Mozart seemed to favor the piano.
Hahn recorded these works in one album because they are both personally significant to her – they were presented to her by her teacher when she was 10 years old – 25 years ago this year. Almost all violinists love Mozart 5 as well as the idea of Vieuxtemps, so there’s a bit of populist appeal here that I like a lot too, which is part of the artist’s ethos – the 35 year old is a violinist for the people, and loves cultivating her enormous fan base.
The album wraps up with a conversation between Hahn and renowned conductor Paavo Jarvi and a digital book of liner notes wherein Hahn tells the story above. She is an indisputable master, and the recording is first rate indeed. I’ll write more when I’ve made my way through the whole album.
Thanks for reading.