Schoenberg Violin Concerto Op. 36 / Sibelius Violin Concerto Op. 47
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|1. 1 Poco allegro|
|2. 2 Andante grazioso|
|3. 3 Finale: Allegro|
|4. 1 Allegro moderato|
|5. 2 Adagio di molto|
|6. 3 Allegro, ma non tanto|
Hilary Hahn is an American Grammy Award winning violinist. This album features the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Violin Concerto, Op.36 Composed by Arnold Schoenberg and Violin Concerto in D minor, Op.47 Composed by Jean Sibelius. She has an online journal of her life as a working classical violinist busy on the concert road. As Hilary puts it 'a nomadic musician - a modern troubadour'.
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And...I can't forgot to mention that her recording of the Sibelius concerto is also excellent, not too romantic. The only reservation is that the first movement is pretty slow, although Hahn brings it off---just. Her playing and tone is again so beautiful and strong that it compels you to listen, even when the tempo seems like we're all of a sudden in the second movement.
Nevertheless, it is a superb disc--go for it!
The violin is pretty good...maybe she's a bit too young... No, I can't see her passion very much. Her technique is flawless though. Martin
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But the difficulties are not only technical: the piece is VERY romantic and it's EXCEPTIONALLY hard to bring that to it. I never hoped in my lifetime to hear a recording of this concerto as natural and lyrical as this one. Hahn has captured perfectly the atmosphere and drama of the piece. This could easily do for the Schoenberg Concerto what Isaac Stern's recording of the Berg Concerto did for that work.
My amazement is made the more so by the fact that for years I resisted even listening to Hahn's recordings: too young, couldn't be ready for the works she was performing. When I finally did condescend to hear her, I immediately bought everything she had ever done. She's a superb performer (she and Janine Jansen are arguably the two most musical young violinists on the scene today; and Jansen has shown no signs of being nearly as adventurous).
But when I heard she had recorded the Schoenberg Concerto, I have to admit that even with that background, I was skeptical. The work is just too much - it's tempting to think that it's too much for a human being. I'm glad I never gave in to thinking that: now I know it isn't true. This recording is amazing!
About Salonen little need be said: everything he touches turns to gold. The orchestra, of course, could easily have ruined things; that they rise to the level demanded by such a superb soloist and conductor speaks volumes for their remarkable abilities. I look forward to hearing much more from them.
The Schoenberg Violin Concerto has finally joined the Piano Concerto as a major brainchild of the composer, not merely a respected but unheard stepsister. I know it's not quite so adventuresome, Hilary, but perhaps a Berg Concerto to go with this one? At the right tempi, which I know you (unlike so many) will find?
The Sibelius performance is impeccable as well, but good performances of that very popular piece aren't so hard to come by. The Schoenberg is the reason to buy this CD.
Schoenberg is feared, his music "unapproachable, sterile, mathmatical." I say no. I've been an active Schoenberg fan for nearly 20 years. I love Bach, I love Beethoven. Schoenberg in many regards is following in that tradition, his music an extension or continuation of what they and Brahms and Wagner were doing with chromatic harmony and the formal structure of their music. Schoenberg simply took it one step further. I think the difficulty listeners find when approaching Schoenberg is following the melodic line. In my opinion there is no doubt it is trickier than tonal writing at least because, for the most part, tonal music is what we are familiar with. It takes effort for the listener to get used to this but the reward is a world of sound not available in tonal music.
I don't get overly caught up in how Schoenberg used the 12 note system (and whatever label you choose to apply to it). I hear the music as personal expression. He was, to my ears, a romantic composer, looking for ever more harmonic color and a master of counterpoint. At his best his music could be described as "hyper-romantic." For two examples other than his Violin Concerto, his Piano Concerto packs plenty of emotion as he describes leaving 1930's Germany behind and adjusting to California and his new life, and his Variations for Orchestra (see the Karajan version) presents simply HUGE romanticism.
As for the recording at hand, transcending music theory and making music that speaks is its strength. No reason to expand on that subject as previous reviews have covered at length how well this recording succeeds on that level. I will voice a complaint about the recording which is that I wish the orchestra playing was a little closer in the mix, more of a close-mic sound. Schoenberg's orchestrations are rich and some of the inner detail of the part writing is lost here. But make no mistake, this is an otherwise beautiful sounding recording.
I look forward hearing the Sibelius but right now I just can't get past this wonderful Schoenberg. Bravo!
The Sibelius has always struck me as structurally disjointed, particularly the first movement. Musical ideas appear and subside, half-developed, with little sense of architecture. It was only when I heard the original version of the concerto, recorded (on BIS) for the first time by Greek violinist, Leonidas Kavakos, that I understood how these disparate ideas were in truth connected when originaly woven together. The substantially revised version of the work (invariably heard today) pared much of the music back to its stark raw material, which familiarity has helped us to smooth over.
Ms Hahn's reading of the work restores that greater sense of unity found in the original version. She achieves this by avoiding sudden extremes in mood and tempi. Her arcs are smoother and longer, allowing the musical ideas room to breathe, to evolve naturally from one to another.
Many ears find the result lacking in romatic fire and disappointing. On the contrary, Ms Hahn's reading is intensely brooding and contemplative in the first movement, wonderfuly melodic in the second, and naturally rhapsodic in the third. Her playing throughout is never harsh or forced, but radiant and lyrical. Which is not to say she never plays with fire: listen to the 2 notes that open the cadenza in the first movement at 7:15-7:20. They strike terror in me every time I hear them.
True it is that Ms Hahn's reading is slightly unorthodox, but it captures that quintessentially Finnish aura found in Sibelius' symphonies and orchestral works better than most other recordings. Her playing is of the highest order, the balance with the SRSO is spot on, and Mr Salonen's conducting is superb, revealing previosuly unheard nuances in the score.
The same is true of the Sibelius. Here I felt Hahn's tone wasn't quite as distinctive or confident, but her freedom with the line is fascinating and again Salonen reveals tiny details in the accompaniment I'd never noticed before. (I don't own a score.) Hahn plays the most rhapsodic cadenza in the first movement I've ever heard, and the result is wonderful. Again, balances of violin vs. orchestra are perfect--one never intrudes on the other and we hear details that are often lost in this music in even some of the best readings. I'd recommend this disc highly to those who love either of these pieces, and I hope DG lets HH continue to record challenging repertoire like this instead of pushing her into yet another Four Seasons.