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Eclipse (Hilary Hahn)

Hilary Hahn (violin); Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Andrés Orozco-Estrada (DG)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Dvořák: Violin Concerto; Ginastera: Violin Concerto; Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25
Hilary Hahn (violin); Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Andrés Orozco-Estrada
DG 486 2383   73:17 mins


This is the first album Hilary Hahn has recorded since the pandemic struck, and there appears to have been a striking change in her playing. Whereas before one was above all conscious of her captivating reproduction of the notes themselves, now her focus appears to have shifted to what lies behind the notes. Phrases are now more subtly lingered over, as though on occasion she can hardly bear to let them go. More space is allowed for the music to breathe naturally, and when the notes start flying, there is a greater sense of exultation in the excitement generated.

The Dvořák Concerto is notoriously tricky to bring off convincingly, yet by sustaining an extraordinary level of intensity throughout (much as Isaac Stern did in his classic CBS/Sony account with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy), Hahn makes you believe in every note. Hahn’s range of articulation also feels more strikingly varied. In Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, whilst ensuring the more sumptuous moments are voiced with a luxurious cantabile legato, she shapes each number with a powerful sense of the music’s dance origins – one can readily sense feet stamping, hands clapping and skirts swirling.

Yet it is the Ginastera Concerto that is the real star item here. Rarely heard since its 1963 premiere, its stunning virtuoso demands – from the outset, the soloist is thrown in at the deep end with a dazzling, extended solo cadenza – are certainly not for the faint-hearted. Hahn hurls herself into the fray with scintillating abandon, matched by stunningly articulate and rhythmically beguiling playing from the Frankfurt Radio Symphony under Andrés Orozco-Estrada.


Julian Haylock