Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Turnage; Ali-Zadeh; Satoh; Lang; Moravec et al
LABELS: Deutsche Grammophon
WORKS: Works by Turnage, Ali-Zadeh, Satoh, Lang, Moravec et al
PERFORMER: Hilary Hahn (violin); Cory Smythe (piano)


All credit to Hilary Hahn for commissioning a set of miniatures from living composers to use as encores, but how many of them are ear-catching enough to hold an audience at the end of a recital? There are some interesting pieces here, but interesting isn’t necessarily what an encore is about, and the ones which work best are those that fix a mood immediately and sustain it long enough to make an effect, but don’t outstay their welcome.

Impulse by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh effectively demonstrates what not to do: it starts with an excitingly syncopated section, which comes to a natural end after two minutes. If the piece stopped there, it would be fine, but there’s then a central section and a reprise. On the other side of the divide are Somei Satoh’s lyrical, Takemitsu-like Bifu, David Lang’s minimal, motoric light moving, Antón García Abril’s passionately Spanish Third Sigh, and Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Hilary’s Hoedown, all of which establish their territory with minimum fuss.

There’s no doubting Hahn’s commitment and technical assurance though, and she projects the warmth of Valentin Silvestrov and David Del Tredici with as much strength as the extended techniques of Richard Barrett or the Indian-inflected lines of Kala Ramnath. In all this she’s partnered expertly by Cory Smythe.


Martin Cotton