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Schoenberg Violin Concerto Op. 36 / Sibelius Violin Concerto Op. 47

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 11 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B0011WMWUW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,344 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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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

Product Description

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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Format: Audio CD
Never have warmed up to Schoenberg, or any of his 12 tones, and I'm not a musician so I can't appreciate what a work of genius his re-invention of tonality is. But WOW, this recording by Hilary Hahn is making me think anything is possible. I bought this disc for the Sibelius, which I love and is obviously a much better known piece; but it's the Schoenberg that keeps me hitting 'play.' She brings such beauty and warmth, with such incredible purity of tone, full of life, and seems to me to find the perfect balance between romanticism and the 'avant garde.' This is a record for those of you, like me, not accustomed to Schoenberg's tonal palate. It may not displace a favorite like the concertos by Sibelius or Beethoven, but when presented with such passion, precision and total conviction, ...it is just a wonderful experience. WOW!!
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!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
But I prefer the Kubelik orchestra. Salonen is sometimes a bit in a hurry. This concert has to be played as a macramé.
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa5d4a2e8) out of 5 stars 49 reviews
211 of 217 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5e89798) out of 5 stars Clearly she's among the giants April 9 2008
By D. Sills - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I'm absolutely astonished with this recording. I'm an old string player with a doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music and I have studied the Schoenberg Concerto for years. I know firsthand just how difficult it is (you literally have to learn a new way to finger some passages, using your ring finger and not the pinky for the highest notes because the ring finger can reach farther up on lower strings!).

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?
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5fc3a68) out of 5 stars Revelatory May 25 2008
By Erik Tarloff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Schoenberg violin concerto is widely admired and widely studied, but it isn't much played, and it's never been much loved. This is partly because of the huge technical hurdles it presents fiddlers, but also because it isn't especially easy to bring off musically; in this regard it is unlike the piano concerto, say, which is far more accessible, and which offers up at least some of its beauties simply by being played accurately. I've heard most of the violin concerto performances previously committed to disc and never found them very pleasing; the soloist always seems to be eating his spinach like a good boy. As a consequence, I've always taken it to be one of Schoenberg's more rebarbative works, like the thoroughly unpleasant wind quintet. But Hillary Hahn has located the romantic soul of the piece --- she seems to see in it a kinship to a work like the Brahms concerto --- and delivers a performance that is not only technically thrilling but also very moving. It has fundamentally changed my opinion of this concerto; the score's mastery no longer feels predominantly theoretical, but rather, is characteristic of Schoenberg's masterpieces, big, generous-hearted, romantic.
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.
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb2169d2c) out of 5 stars Schoenberg Violin Concerto April 21 2008
By Jack Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The first thing I want to say in regards to this recording is, thank you. I've waited for a new recording of the Schoenberg Violin Concerto for years and Hahn/Salonen/Swedish RSO present near perfection. The previous reviews already cover a lot of ground and I'll try not to repeat too much.

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!
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb11d5f60) out of 5 stars Sublime Sibelius June 3 2009
By A. Argyropoulos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This review doesn't touch on the Schoenberg - almost without exception, all other reviewers praise Ms Hahn's recording of it, and I agree with them completely. It's the reaction to the Sibelius which fascinates me: very divided, with more tending to be negative. Too bland, cold and detached. I strongly disagree.

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.

Five stars.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5cb1f90) out of 5 stars Great Sibelius but the Schoenberg is the showstopper Sept. 28 2008
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It'd be tempting to say the classical music recording industry is in great shape when the Schoenberg on this disc is the primary work and the Sibelius is the "flip-side." But a look at much of the rest of the industry shows that this is an anomaly...still, we'll take what we can get. This wonderful CD starts off with a delightfully *lyrical,* yes, lyrical, reading of the Schoenberg concerto. If this performance doesn't make you fall in love with it, nothing will. It's not at the caliber of the Berg VC (what is?), but it shouldn't be as neglected as it is either, and maybe this recording will do something to change that. Using long lines, lots of expressive vibrato and a singing tone, Ms. Hahn makes the work sound practically romantic. The cadenza is dazzling and shows what a tremendous virtuoso she is (how does she manage the stretches with her apparently small hands?) and what a mature musician. This is a very intelligent interpretation. Salonen is right at home in this kind of music, so it should be no surprise that his support is top-notch, especially in the delicate shadings. Many small instrumental details emerge thanks to the superb balance and understanding of the tiny details of this piece. The clarity is impressive--reminiscent of Boulez, but with more feeling. I heard elements in the orchestra accompaniment I'd never noticed before.

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.