In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores

Hilary Hahn

Deutsche Grammophon Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The two-time Grammy winning violinist takes on a massive project here. With pianist Cory Smythe on her side, Hahn brought in 26 composers from both sides of the Atlantic for this themed album, and for number 27 of the encore, she held an online contest where over 400 composers sent in scores for consideration before choosing a piece penned by Jeff Myers. When you get composer status like James Newton Howard, Jennifer Higdon, Valentin Silvestrov, David Lang and David del Tredici, to name a few, you know there is an unimaginable amount of talent spread across these two discs. The big question then becomes if the tracks flow into one another well. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While Hahn is mostly associated with contemporary classical music (she's not even 35 yet), that is only one of the many sounds explored here. From the jazz feelings of "Memory Games" to the fiddles of "Hilary's Hoedown" to the experimental "Two Voices", you get new textures and elements every five minutes, as each encore never out welcomes itself. Of course, the stunning violin acrobatics of Hahn are still center stage, and shine through in tracks like "When A Tiger Meets a Rosa Rugosa" (Du Yun) or "Storm Of The Eye" (Elliott Sharp) where it's very apparent that this young woman has been studying and playing her instrument since the age of five.

Though it may appear that this release only fits a particular niche of music enthusiasts, Hahn and company bring so many ideas to the table that this release could easily be embraced by fans of Eastern, pop, and chamber music. Since the composers come from 17 different countries, the range of ideas fleshed out is extremely high and the quick tracks (short by classical standards anyway) are ideal for the classical neophyte. Two hours is a long time to listen to a release, but here you just might find yourself doing both discs in sitting – the true mark of something supremely accomplished.

Rating: B+

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