Elgar: Violin Concerto / Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascendingby Hilary Hahn
Elgar's Violin Concerto tends to bring out the best in young virtuosos. This may be surprising, given that the musical challenges of the work are even more daunting than its considerable technical demands -- but the proof is on disc. Yehudi Menuhin was just 16 when he made the first complete recording (under the composer's direction), and a teenage Nigel Kennedy established his reputation with a superb performance. Now here's Hilary Hahn with a remarkably assured and mature interpretation. Sir Colin Davis does not shape the orchestral part as tautly as Elgar himself did, nor is he as magisterial as Vernon Handley (who conducted for Kennedy's recording), but his is a compellingly passionate, sometimes even volatile, view. Hahn's response to the music is also highly emotional, to be sure, but there's a poise and a rare element of delicacy to her playing, too. DG's recording underlines the elegance of Hahn's approach by not placing her too close to the microphone. As a result, she occasionally seems dwarfed by the orchestra, but this a realistic perspective, and one that only enhances the music's dramatic character. As for the technical hurdles, Hahn leaps each one with apparent ease; note, for example, her finely etched realization of the intricate passagework at the beginning of the finale. The CD offers an encore of sorts: Ralph Vaughan Williams's pastoral meditation The Lark Ascending. In case you were too involved in the drama of the Elgar to notice, the exquisite refinement of Hahn's tone is unmistakable here. Not to be missed.
- Release Date:
- Deutsche Grammophon
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