Hahn: Violin Concerto; Piano Concerto; Suite hongroise

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Hahn
LABELS: Maguelone
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Piano Concerto; Suite hongroise
PERFORMER: Denis Clavier (violin), Angéline Pondepeyre (piano); Lorraine PO/Fernand Quattrocchi
CATALOGUE NO: MAG 111.106 (distr. Discovery)
Reynaldo Hahn’s Piano Concerto (once described in these pages as a ‘mystifyingly neglected gem of the repertoire’) joined Massenet’s to complete Vol. 15 of Hyperion’s major retrospective series, ‘The Romantic Piano Concerto’. Hahn’s Violin Concerto and Suite hongroise enter the catalogue for the first time on this Maguelone issue, however. They’re engagingly individual creations, but these performances aren’t top-drawer, so any wider rehabilitation of these scores isn’t likely to be signalled by this disc.

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Stephen Coombs’s Hyperion account of the Piano Concerto was fresh and fluent, readily outclassing Angéline Pondepeyre’s newcomer. Her more mannered approach doesn’t evince the improvisatory character of the opening movement, and Coombs’s winning agility and crystalline poise carry the day, especially in the witty finale. Orchestral playing from the BBC Scottish SO under Jean-Yves Ossonce is excellent, as is Hyperion’s engineering.

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On Maguelone’s release, Denis Clavier delivers Hahn’s Violin Concerto with easy assurance, generous tone and plenty of imaginative touches in this live recording, much the best performance here. Finally, Hahn’s Suite hongroise seems not to have been played at all in advance of this exhumation, taped at the Metz Arsenal in September 1997. Despite some occasionally headlong and feverish playing from both soloists, it’s an engaging account of this capricious rarity. Michael Jameson