Violin Concerto in D Stravinsky
Violin Concerto in D
Hilary Hahn (violin)
Academy of St Martin in the Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner
CD No: SONY CLASSICAL SK 89649 Duration: Reviewed: March 2002
Hahn, Marriner on Sony Classical
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
A unique coupling I think and not as questionable as might be first thought. Both concertos are in the same key; Brahms looks to Hungary for his gypsy finale; Stravinskys Russian spirit intercedes his concertos neo-classical tag: try the tang of the violin and oboe interchanges from 1㤘-1㤡 in the opening Toccata fiddle and accordion music!
The tempo for this first movement is faster than adopted by anyone else I know, but as marked; the hair-raising difficulties for soloist, orchestral solos and overall co-ordination are brilliantly solved, Hahn not resorting to Mutters swoops (DG). The recording is pinpoint-sharp and equably balanced unlike Perlman/Barenboim (Teldec) or EMIs for Vengerov/Rostropovich, which laud the soloist. Marriners precise conducting and his players virtuoso and vivid response to syncopation and rhythmic point brings to the Toccata a suggestion of player-piano origination in its mechanical sophistication but in real terms.
Both middle movements are termed Aria. The first emerges from Hahn as over-fractious its so easy to de-humanise Stravinsky but the second is deeply-felt without mawkishness, seamlessly lyrical. The final Capriccio returns to the high spirits of the opening; the quick tempo reduces the opportunities for witty asides but doesnt compromise either articulation or quick reflexes high-wire stuff! Returning to Krzysztov Smietanas Philharmonia Orchestra recording, with Stravinskys close assistant Robert Craft conducting, is to hear something almost slow-motion in comparison, yet there seems more musical character (Musicmasters 01612-67195-2). Swings and roundabouts.
If Hahns interpretation of the Stravinsky obliges itself on collectors, the Brahms isnt quite so imposing. It doesnt get off to the best start with an unrelated edit at 0㤝. Marriners opening is traditional in tempo and outline, and while Hahn brings heroics and poise to her first entrance, her broad approach is familiar from so many other readings. What distinguishes Hahn, apart from her formidable technical skills, is the passion and declamation she brings to the music, and also the love with which she shapes the more lyrical and private episodes. She may have little original to say, but hers is an uninhibited reading given within an appreciation of classical decorum, which instils a musical shape and sensitivity to overall direction.
Emphasising her sense of custom, Hahn opts to play the cadenza that Joachim wrote at Brahmss behest Joachim gave the premiere and advised Brahms on the solo part; again its the usual choice but its encouraging that Hahn is relying on her own re-creative talents rather than novelty. This is a fresh and compelling reading that scores high on bravura and intense communication for its success qualities that Hilary Hahn has in abundance.