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Violinist's Giant Shoulders
We typically consider advances in the multitude of disciplines in our world to be predicated on the work of others. Many an inventor, scientist or philosopher has stated they are standing on the shoulders of giants as they announce the development of a novel idea, theorem or discovery. Once in a great while, we are able to witness the work of one of the actual giants themselves.
I have been fortunate to have attended concerts with some of the most talented people in classical music, rock music, folk music, blues, and jazz. The top tier of these concerts has left lasting impressions on my psyche. Not only does live music showcase the true talents of a musician, since no studio fine-tuning or dubbing is available to enhance the music, a concert at the highest level envelopes the active listener in a wide array of psychological and emotional feelings. Good music, at its essence, is highly emotive.
We attended a concert a few nights ago which surpassed all the concerts I have been to in my life. It did so from an emotional perspective, technical perspective, pure talent perspective and by absolute, raw enjoyment. We witnessed Hilary Hahn performing the Mendelssohn violin concerto in E minor. Having listened to Hilary Hahn play for years by means of her wonderful CD's, my expectations were quite elevated prior to the concert. Also, being an amateur violinist gave me the insight to fully appreciate and understand the remarkable skill Ms. Hahn has with the violin and bow.
She blew me away!
Many professional violinists over the years have had exceptional technical skills. Many have had wonderful expressiveness as they interpret the master composers' works. To be a true virtuoso a musician must be able to achieve both at the highest level; especially if they want to connect with their audience as they are performing. Hilary Hahn's seemingly effortless playing was technically perfect, with some of her fingering and bowing appearing to be humanly impossible to accomplish, while concurrently playing with an expressiveness which made the music come alive in many dimensions. I felt so many emotions while she played for us: joy, awestruck, thrilled, elated, and amazed. As her incredible performance wrapped us in a cocoon of emotions, I felt tears running down my cheeks. My wife had a similar experience. Ms. Hahn captured us with not only with her phenomenal interpretation of the Mendelssohn, but with her joy of playing and her desire to connect with her audience.
At the conclusion of her performance, and following an eruption of applause and a long lasting standing ovation, Hilary had one more gift to give all of us in attendance. She played a Bach partita as an encore. The audience was enraptured by her playing of this beautiful composition. Since the Bach piece is unaccompanied, the orchestra could sit back and become immersed in the music; and they did so, just like all those in attendance.
The professional musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra, along with all of us music aficionados, knew we were witnessing a giant in the world of violin music. Her skills and talent are the best I have ever seen or heard.
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