- Sonata for violin & piano No. 24 in F major, K. 376 (K. 374d)
- Sonata for violin & piano No. 18 in G major, K. 301 (K. 293a)
- Sonata for violin & piano No. 21 in E minor, K. 304 (K. 300c)
- Sonata for violin & piano No. 35 in A major, K. 526
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mozart: Violin Sonatas based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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
Beautiful, intimate, masterful interpretation of Mozart. Listening for the first time, I stopped what I was doing, restarted it, and sat spellbound listening. Each note of each piece is articulated and it's as if there's a conversation taking place between the violin and piano. Delightful!
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!