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Mozart: Violin Sonatas

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
The 250th anniversary in 2006 of Mozart's birth is sure to be marked by countless reissues of classic albums, but if it also produces a handful of new recordings as rewarding as Hilary Hahn's, we'll really have grounds for celebration. This is Hahn's first Mozart disc, and more surprisingly it's also her first exploration of the duo sonata repertoire, following upon her many critically acclaimed concerto recordings and her debut, a selection of Bach's solo sonatas and partitas. Hearing her in the more intimate company of pianist Natalie Zhu, a regular recital partner, is like making her acquaintance for the very first time, and Hahn's remarkable gifts shine through in ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
The 250th anniversary in 2006 of Mozart's birth is sure to be marked by countless reissues of classic albums, but if it also produces a handful of new recordings as rewarding as Hilary Hahn's, we'll really have grounds for celebration. This is Hahn's first Mozart disc, and more surprisingly it's also her first exploration of the duo sonata repertoire, following upon her many critically acclaimed concerto recordings and her debut, a selection of Bach's solo sonatas and partitas. Hearing her in the more intimate company of pianist Natalie Zhu, a regular recital partner, is like making her acquaintance for the very first time, and Hahn's remarkable gifts shine through in this format, exposing the sensitivity of her musicianship and the flawless warmth of her tone, even under the closest scrutiny. Also apparent are her collaborative skills, for just like another duo who released a fine Mozart sonata disc in 2005 -- Mark Steinberg and Mitsuko Uchida -- Hahn and Zhu have been playing together and playing Mozart together for more than a decade, and it shows in every phrase. Although Steinberg and Uchida are more likely to surprise with an unexpected but carefully considered twist of perspective, Hahn and Zhu cultivate a bold and forthright personality, and anyone who knows and loves these sonatas wouldn't want to give up either disc, even if they overlap on two out of four works. Hahn is no stranger to the darker emotions of the E Minor Sonata, K. 304, but it's the three major-mode sonatas especially the abundantly joyful A Major Sonata, K. 526 that give free rein to her youthful zest and elicit her most memorable performances. With those Mozart-year festivities just around the corner, it's hard to imagine a more auspicious herald than this immensely talented duo.
All Music Guide - Patsy Morita
Hilary Hahn and Natalie Zhu prove they are an excellent duo team in their first recording together, featuring four of Mozart's sonatas for violin and piano. All dating from 1778 and later, Mozart treats the two instruments more equitably in these sonatas than in his earlier ones. Hahn and Zhu are technically flawless together. They match each other as closely as two different instruments can to achieve a true duet sound. Just as Hahn "digs" into her strings for extra friction in the opening of the "Sonata in E minor, K. 304," Zhu aims for the same tone quality with her touch. The two use longer note values, enhanced by vibrato and pedal, to give the music a pretty sound. It's probably more than a Classical era purist would like, but this is by no means a Romantic interpretation. Their slow movements, particularly those of K. 376 and K. 526, have beautifully rounded, cantabile phrases. The Allegro con spirito of K. 301 has bright accents and intense diminuendos and crescendos, demonstrating that this music isn't all elegance and delicacy. What marks their performance overall is an infectious energy that draws the listener's attention. Hahn and Zhu have a lively spirit, but they balance it skillfully and knowledgeably with respect for the music, not taking it too seriously, but also not ignoring its significance as part of Mozart's oeuvre and as part of the violin and piano repertoire. It's a performance that is both well-informed and enjoyable, and makes the next effort by Hahn and Zhu something to look forward to.
Gramophone - Rob Cowan
As violin playing per se, I can't think of anyone alive who produces a more ravishing sound or controls their sound more skillfully. The opening of K301 is immediately arresting while the combination of expressive tone and calculated understatement especially suits the E minor Sonata, K304.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Sarah Bryan Miller
[Grade: A] For those who might be still unconvinced of the delights of chamber music, this disc would be an excellent place to begin an exploration.

As violin playing per se, I can't think of anyone alive who produces a more ravishing sound or controls their sound more skillfully. The opening of K301 is immediately arresting while the combination of expressive tone and calculated understatement especially suits the E minor Sonata, K304.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/11/2005
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • UPC: 028947755722
  • Catalog Number: 000477102
  • Sales rank: 18,864

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–3 Sonata for violin & piano No. 24 in F major, K. 376 (K. 374d) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Martin Engstrom (17:41)
  2. 4–5 Sonata for violin & piano No. 18 in G major, K. 301 (K. 293a) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Martin Engstrom (14:21)
  3. 6–7 Sonata for violin & piano No. 21 in E minor, K. 304 (K. 300c) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Martin Engstrom (12:46)
  4. 8–10 Sonata for violin & piano No. 35 in A major, K. 526 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Martin Engstrom (25:07)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Hilary Hahn Primary Artist
Natalie Zhu Piano
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Hahn and Zhu as Equal Partners in Mozart Sonatas

    At first glance seeing Hilary Hahn and Natalie Zhu on the cover of a CD of Mozart Violin Sonatas seems like a nonsequitor. Hahn is a very popular violinist but more closely identified with the big Concerto repertoire than with Mozart pieces. But with age comes greater appreciation of the early important works of the masters and that seems to be the case here (and who can forget her recording of the Bach solo sonatas and partitas?). Though more often heard in the scaled down sound of Mozart's period with the pianoforte substituting for the contemporary piano, here Hahn and Zhu find the beauty of tone and warmth of phrasing and textures that fits these sonatas very well indeed. The sound Hahn produces is absolutely glorious: she frolics through the playful A Major Sonata, K. 526, dances with the lightness of the G Major K. 301 and F Major K. 376 sonatas, and yet plumbs the sadness of the Sonata in E Minor K. 304. The two artists are perfectly paired and their years of collaboration clearly shine in this very clean recording. It is a welcome gift for Mozart's 250th birthday! Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Hahn's Best Recording

    I had written an earlier critique of Hahn's Bach Violin Concertos which I had found to be somewhat forced and too cerebral for my tastes. I beg to differ with my enthusiasm for Hahn's interpretation of the Mozart Violin Sonatas.
    For this listener, Hilary Hahn seems to be more appropriately placed as a chamber musician than as a virtousic concerti violinist. The reason for this is that Hahn's temperament is basically introspective and probing instead of spontaneous and adventurous. For example, Hahn's concerti recordings seem to be placed behind the virtousic talents of Mutter, Jansen, St.John, Hope and Repin in the manufacturers' discography. Since Hahn is less likely to place her personality before her performance, virtuosity takes second place to intellectual brilliance.
    And it is indeed the cerebral calculation that works well with this recording. Her longstanding partnership with pianist Natalie Zhu reflects a self-effacing detachment from public attention, and instead, a lifelong affection for music as a participatory experience in small group settings.
    For this reason, I believe, Hahn has drawn a loyal fanbase who appreciates the attention that she gives to the audience's experience of her music. She does this very well with the Mozart Violin Sonatas. And this is a recording that I will very favorably recommend. Great job, Ms. Hahn!

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