2018-10-29 00:33:33 UTC
I sure wish I could here them!
Review: Hilary Hahn Plays an Unabashedly Romantic Bach
Hilary Hahn performed on Tuesday at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.
By Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
Encores have never been an afterthought for Hilary Hahn. In recent
years, this brilliant violinist has commissioned 27 short solo
pieces from as many composers to expand her stash of end-of-concert
She might have been expected to pick one on Tuesday, when she gave
her first-ever violin-alone recital in New York at Alice Tully Hall
as part of Lincoln Center's White Light Festival. But her evening of
Bach culminated in the sprawling, majestic Chaconne from the Partita
No. 2--the Everest of the violin repertory. Which one of her
commissioned encores would she pick to follow that?
None, it turned out. Instead, she scaled the Chaconne a second time.
It was a gutsy choice. But as I listened to Ms. Hahn, 38, embark
once more on that 18-minute workout of runs, arpeggios and triple
stops, I felt some of the magic drain out of the evening. That's
because this time around, my focus shifted from Bach's genius to Ms.
Hahn's skill, and to the audible deliberation that went into every
Sure, the occasional bass tone rang out even more forcefully on her
second go; Ms. Hahn took extra time on one thoughtful pause and
allowed herself a tiny slurp on an expressive slide from one note to
the next. But her interpretation had clearly been hewed in stone,
one meticulous stroke at a time.
What most surprised me about Ms. Hahn's take on Bach--she
performed the first sonata and the first two partitas--was its
throwback glamour. On Tuesday she played on an 1865 Vuillaume (one
of two instruments by that maker that she used for her new Bach
recording), producing a high-gloss sound of enormous power. There is
an uncanny high-definition quality to the consistency of that sound:
Across strings, in different registers and bow strokes, it maintains
the same brilliance and focus.
In meditative movements like the Adagio of the G Minor Sonata, Ms.
Hahn takes an unabashedly Romantic approach, with slow tempos that
allow her to spin out the melody in shiny ribbons. Her take on that
sonata's fugue, too, was designed to maximize sound, with short
notes rendered solid--almost broad--and only the difficult
triple stops ringing out harshly, like gunshots.
Ms. Hahn dispatched fast movements like the Gigue of the D Minor
Partita with such fire and panache that the audience erupted in
spontaneous (and graciously acknowledged) applause. With sure
dramatic instinct she zoomed in on moments of pathos, lingering on a
sighing motif, or building up crescendos with muscular impatience.
Her playing evoked the Bach of past generations, like Itzhak
Perlman's recording from 1988. Her contemporaries often now play
this repertory with feathered bow strokes, gestural phrasing and
swift tempos inspired by the historically-informed-performance
movement. Ms. Hahn plays as if that shift never occurred.