Hilary Hahn

February 2, 2004 at 12:00 AM · I saw her tonight - yes, she joined us in Alaska. First Glenn Dicterow, then Hilary, who next? Alaska will soon become the mecca of virtuosos. She played a Bloch sonata and I almost passed out, she was so good.

Replies (57)

February 2, 2004 at 12:13 PM · Some time ago, Hahn played the Bloch in Zurich too. I've never heard anybody before, who is able to play so perfectly and without mistakes.

February 2, 2004 at 05:49 PM · How was the Bach?

I saw her Bruch last month in Cincinnati, absolutley stunning!

Im going to see her play in Ann Arbor, MI on February 12 @ Hill Auditorium

February 2, 2004 at 09:27 PM · I'm most definitely going to see her play the Korngold concerto in Hamburg, at the end of March. :)

February 3, 2004 at 07:19 PM · i love her tone and technique, i just dont always agree with her interpretation.

February 3, 2004 at 09:14 PM · I'm jealous of you people lucky enough to see her perform in person. She hasn't toured Australia for a while :(

Hilary is my equal favourite player of all time (along with James Ehnes). Her playing never ceases to astonish me. How a mere human can do what she can with a violin is beyond my simplistic level of understanding. Simply an amazing artist.

February 3, 2004 at 09:52 PM · I think she is probably the best of the young violinists around today.

February 4, 2004 at 01:31 AM · i'd love to hear her play some paganini or wieniawski :)

February 4, 2004 at 01:56 AM · She has a CD out of just the Bach Sonatas and Partitas...and I have to admit, her rendition is the best I have ever heard of them! I love how she phrases them..ugh...gives me CHILLS!

February 20, 2004 at 03:00 AM · Hilary Hahn will be playing the 1st Paganini concerto in some upcoming concerts - yeah!

February 20, 2004 at 04:09 AM · How do you guys like her Barber/Meyer CD?

February 20, 2004 at 06:13 AM · I like it very much :)

February 20, 2004 at 06:58 PM · Me too, and her 3rd mvt. of Barber is crazy fast.

February 21, 2004 at 12:04 AM · I heard her at the ordway here in minnesota. Her mozart sonatas were also extremely nicely done along with bach paritita no 2. She was absolutely flawless. I hear she will be recording the whole set of mozart sonatas on duetsche grammaphone.

February 21, 2004 at 12:31 AM · I really like her Barber Concerto, she has a really great sound, but I dunno, I feel like there is like this minor thing missing from her playing. But I whole-heartedly agree that she is a fine young violinist.

February 21, 2004 at 02:20 AM · I would love it if she recorded Brahms sonatas and the fae scherzo

I hear she is playing the spohr 8 and korngold, very cool

February 21, 2004 at 05:38 PM · I agree with owen; while I'm not always in agreement with her interpretations, her technique and tone is good. And she has a great work ethic, and always presents herself as a serious, mature artist. When I saw her in recital at carnegie, she chose 2 slow pieces for encores, rather than the flashy stuff. Very pure playing.

April 1, 2004 at 08:44 AM · people have u heard her recording of the mendelsohn? Everything is perfect except i don;t understand her version of the cadenza!!! Its utter rubbish.

April 1, 2004 at 11:28 AM · Greetings,

in his book Milstein talks about how Toscanini explained the structure of the Mendellssohn Cadenza to him and that he has always polayed and taught it that wzy. Sadly, he does not explain what way he means...

Must be a prune in there somewhere,

Cheers,

Buri

April 1, 2004 at 08:45 PM · Hahn was supposed to record the Brahms sonatas with Garrick Olsson a while ago but the project was cancelled because of 'artistic differences'

I think her technique & sound is amazing. One criticism that I often hear is that she can lack expression or emotion, but that may come with maturity. I don't like her tempos for the fast movements of of the Bach & Mendelssohn concertos on her recordings- too fast- but when I heard her play the Bach concerto in E live the tempo was fine.

She hasn't yet recorded all of the Bach solo S&P, only Partitas 2&3 and Sonata #3. I'll hope she'll record the rest as well as the Tcaikovsky, Sibelius & Saint-Saens (3) concertos

April 1, 2004 at 03:05 PM · And hopefully the Korngold concerto... I heard her play it live on monday (in Hamburg) and it was nowhere short of amazing.

April 1, 2004 at 06:47 PM · i hvae mixed feelings about hahn, sometimes i love her playing and sometimes it makes me fall asleep (beethoven)

April 1, 2004 at 07:12 PM · I have to disagree, I think her Beethoven has many noble qualities.

April 1, 2004 at 07:39 PM · I enjoyed her pieces in Anchorage. Her Bach was so well executed, technically, I was moved. My husband was less affected, though, and he claimed she didn't play with emotion. I find it hard to believe, because she was so animated and did so much with the phrasing and such, I mean it's not like she was just playing the notes in a dead-pan fashion. ...Yet I would agree that she has a somewhat icy feeling. I have thought about this repeatedly, and still can't put my finger on what it is I think she's missing. It wasn't enough that I would turn my nose up at buying a recording by her. Perhaps someone with a little more skill at technical analysis could pinpoint it.

April 1, 2004 at 09:32 PM · On the other hand, the"icy feeling" just makes her Shostakovitch truly amazing and intense... It's just this simple beauty in the passacaglia, that would be lost if she played with more "outward" emotion (like Shaham for example)

April 2, 2004 at 12:45 AM ·

April 2, 2004 at 01:21 AM · Gosh, I had a dream that a recording of her Sonatas and Partitas came out and I was the first person EVER to buy it. -_-"

I have to agree with the statement about Hahn's lacking emotion and such. Her Barber is REALLY amazing but the 2nd movement could sure use some more musicality. Her Beethoven is REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY fast, but it's cool.

April 2, 2004 at 02:16 AM · Greetings,

VA, I ask sonewhat tongue in cheek, what do you mean by more musicality? More dynamics? Rubato?

I am not convinced musicality and emotion are the same thing by any means, and I do know that is really is -utterly impossible- to sustain an international career with a flawless technique and no musicianship. The closest anyone ever came was Ricci I think, and he became a heck of a lot more artistic over time,

Cheers,

Buri

April 2, 2004 at 09:45 AM · Lack of musicianship does not describe Hahn. It may be something more in connection with her personality, or inner being. Our playing cannot help but reflect who we are. I don't know what the word is for it, which is why I was hoping someone here would know what I was getting at. She has a particular personality on the stage which is great for some things and not as great for other things.

I like that opening line in the movie The Importance of Being Earnest, when a pianist stands from his practicing and says, "I don't play very accurately. Anyone can play accurately. But I play with great *feeling*." Or something like that. Ha!

I always wondered if I might have an edge somewhere down the line because I'm so naturally manic-depressed and wear my heart on my sleeve. On the contrary, mood swings contribute nothing positive to a good practice ethic.

April 2, 2004 at 03:35 PM · I do think that people with stronger feelings may be more concerned than others with the "passion" of the music..but it doesn't matter if you are bipolar, schizophrenic, or suicidal...if your technique doesn't allow the musicality to come through, then...

April 2, 2004 at 05:25 PM · To be a great violinist of today you have to have balance of skill, thought, and temperment. This is what separates great violinists of today such as Perlman, Zukerman, Mutter, Mintz Repin, Hahn, etc from other musicians.

Having said that, I doubt that without having temperment one can make a trully interesting career. I think the world has had enough of Kubeliks.

October 4, 2007 at 11:10 PM · Hilary Hahn is not a great artist. Unfortunately, neither are any of the other so called artists from the new stable of violinists we are producing now. The golden age of the violin is over. It's a great shame but Mischa Elman said it along time ago when being interviewed. He said that "today we live in an age where mediocrity is raised to a level of artistry"

I believe he was right. When he was young and studying the violin, his parents had aspirations of him being able to progress to a stage where he would be able to get a good position in an orchestra.

He and they never dreamed that he would become the type of violinist that was hailed as a great artist. We live in an age now of competions and politics. Most of the time the most gifted player is not the one who wins these competions, but the pupil of the teacher who is judging the event. We need these competions because everything has become so commercial. No artist can have a career now without a good agent, and no agent will touch an artist who hasn't won any of the top competions. Hilary Hahn is boring she plays in one color. Her musical choices are poor. I listened to one of her recordings once. At first you are impressed with this beautiful sound (which hasn't been heard from most violinists in a long time)

but after a few minutes, you want to puke. The sound becomes extremely monotonous and there is nothing interesting musically. In fact, as was stated before, I think that she makes some very poor choices musically. I know that this response is probably going to cause a lot of anger in some of you (and I apologize if anyone is offended) but let's face it, there are no more Heifetz's,Elman's, Kreisler's, Milstein's, Oistrakh's, or even Stern's. Perlman was the first to agree with me when I met him and we talked about this. There is a reason that these guys were really great.

October 4, 2007 at 11:24 PM · I don't think it's quite fair to say that there are NO great artists of the violin these days. I prefer the older generation too, but just off the top of my head I can think of Vengerov, Repin, Kelemen, Perlman, probably Kavakos, and some somewhat-lesser-known names like Sergiu Luca.

I agree with your complaints about competitions though...for crying out loud, music is not horse-racing...

October 4, 2007 at 11:30 PM · Maybe if you listened to more than one of her recordings more than once, you might think otherwise?

October 4, 2007 at 11:39 PM · Greetings,

I am curious about what it is in Mr Meyer that really motivates him to make such unpelasant statements about someone (Hilary Hahn) who not only gives a lot of pleasure ot people the world over but -is- actually rated as a superb violinist -and musician- by many knowledgeable people.

To some e xtent I share the opinion about her sound being somewhat one dimensional (maybe at the moment) from hearing her live but her recnet Paginini and Spohr recording is a wonderful achievment and however much you hate a player I cannot see any reason to talk so disrespectfully about them.

Cheers,

Buri

October 4, 2007 at 11:50 PM · low intake of prunes.

October 5, 2007 at 12:16 AM · A year ago I would have said something... but now I've learned not to.

Perhaps I'm growing up.

October 5, 2007 at 01:01 AM · I have her Partitas etc. on CD. I 'do not' think the golden age of violin took anything away from the future, unless it is allowed.

Combining all the knowledge and technique in now achievable formats for teachers and students consideration has never really been possible in the past--now it is.

'I' may never be of virtuoso quality, but I think Hahn and the current generation have only opened the doorway to new and exciting possibilities.

I think technology of it's own, will inspire virtuosity as never before. Both for personal as well as objective reasons, people 'will' turn towards mastery as never before--both as part and partial of technology. I wrote on the the personal and social implications of technology in college, and that is what I found: when folks are hungry they will cook.

We ain't seen nothing yet--(insert two loud bass notes)

October 5, 2007 at 03:36 AM · The first recording I heard of Hahn was her Barber/Meyer CD. While I really liked it, I agree with Emily in saying that I found her sound was somewhat cold. I think my ears adapted to her style (if that's possible) because now she's one of my favorites!

I don't think she doesn't play with emotion. If you listen to her Barber, you can't deny there is much thought and feeling put into her interpretation. Her sound is very unique, though. Hilary is one of those violinists I hear and I know it's her immediately.

There is a group called Hilary Hahnisms on Facebook (it's an awesome group!) and apparently someone on there calculated that in the third movement of Barber, at the end, she is playing 14 notes per second!

October 5, 2007 at 03:44 AM · hey, I'm just stating my opinions on her. I do feel that she doesn't leave a distinct mark on her music, and her music is very superficial. It's fine that you might disagree, but please allow me to voice my own opinions (freedom of speech)

October 5, 2007 at 04:43 AM · In the numerous recordings I've heard of Hahn's (never lucky enough to have heard her live), neither mediocrity nor puking nor super-efficient p.r. agents have ever come to mind. I don't always like her approach, but her playing is frequently spectacular. Indeed, in hearing the wealth of wonderful contemporary violinists today, I've wondered whether WE are living in a violinistic golden age.

On dietary matters: In addition to low prune intake, ketchup deficiency may also be a problem, since ketchup has natural mellowing agents, clearly needed here. Perhaps it would be helpful if our critic would check out Hahn's recording of the concerto by that famous red, Ketchupturian.

October 5, 2007 at 05:03 AM · here, HERE! Eric!

October 5, 2007 at 01:57 PM · I wish I had the technical abilities of young Miss Hahn.

October 5, 2007 at 04:33 PM · Chris - Mischa Elman never even came close to the technical level of Hilary Hahn. Let's just be honest. Musical interpretations are all apples and oranges. You brought up competitions and politics, Hahn never from my knowledge has won a major competition asside from a state competition she won in Pittsburgh many years ago. As far as politics, there has always been a bit of that in anything, but the cream rises to the top in most cases. Anyone who has heard her live will notice how good she is and how she is a cut above the others like Vengerov, Bell, Repin etc. (who are nothing to sneeze at!). Not that many artists today sound as good as they do live compared with their studio recordings. I can think of one violinist that is talked about all the time here who sounds 20% more in tune on recordings than live. There's none of that with Hahn, her performances are as good as her studio recordings. The only violinist (another Friedman student) I have ever heard criticizing Hilary Hahn's intonation, plays quite out of tune herself!

October 5, 2007 at 06:40 PM · Wow. All I can say is that I've many great violinists both on recordings and in person. Only the rare few have impressed me as being technically great, playing with beautiful tone, and with great interpretations. Hilary Hahn is among that group. I've heard great players play badly(Stern) Great players being spectacular, and good violinists inspiring. Hilary Hahn is a goddess.I agree with the comments by Nate about her consistancy.

October 5, 2007 at 07:25 PM · I also agree. Her technique is unreal, and whether or not you agree with her musical interpretations, they are always intelligently thought out and well-executed. I think in general she goes for the larger phrase and line rather than the expressivo of the moment...but it's a conscious choice, not a mindless imitation. She also seems to be a geniunely nice person. After playing the Erlkonig (better than I've ever heard it, live or recorded) for an encore in Cleveland, she gladly took a few minutes out of her crazy life to talk to me about her approach to practicing this crazy piece and gave me some of her fingerings for it (I was playing it in an upcoming concert).

October 5, 2007 at 07:52 PM · http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g0QjwGkIEA

October 5, 2007 at 07:59 PM · Willie that was amazing! Thank you for posting that. I'm going to go practice after seeing that! Was this the Encore performance Nicholas? I've noticed she plays lots of Ernst, hopefully sometime she will record the Ernst F# Minor concerto (one of my favorites).

October 5, 2007 at 08:08 PM · Nate, no it wasn't, though I heard from a friend who attended the Encore concert that it was incredible...this was when she played Dvorak with Cleveland last season. After the concerto, she proceeded to play Erlkonig flawlessly with my teacher sitting about 2 feet away, which I thought was rather inconsiderate of her since I had to play it in my lesson the next day. =)

October 6, 2007 at 01:09 AM · Hilary Hahn better than Vengerov? I don't think so

http://youtube.com/watch?v=cyMUPBG-nsY

sorry, but Hilary Hahn's interpretations don't do anything for me... They don't move me at all.

October 6, 2007 at 01:18 AM · OK, edited deleted comment

October 6, 2007 at 01:42 AM · Hilary is an amazing violinist and very nice to talk to. She is not always perfect though and you will agree if saw the clip of her playing Ernst´s Last Rose Variations on the Verbier festival (no funny comments about my previous posts about Hilary, please)

She is getting better and better too but Vengerov is still most original and maybe the greatest technical player of the younger violinists active today if you ask me .

He can cut of phrases and play in a way that would sound terrible if anyone else would try it (Kremer may be able to play like that and do it well too perhaps)

October 6, 2007 at 03:10 AM · chris, your vengerov clip there's nothing there except pretty sounds and bizarre face mugging. And his coat sleeves are two inches to long. Get that man somebody who can sew. Hilary makes him sound like, well somebody who makes pretty sounds while mugging with a coat that doesn't fit. And she does it without lifting a finger :)

October 6, 2007 at 05:06 AM · Jim, seriously. If all you can find to comment on is his ill-fitting ugly suit and his involuntary face-making, why even bother posting? We only get 100 posts per topic y'know...

Personally, Vengerov and Kelemen are the only violinists of the current era whom I listen to with any regularity. Vengerov is that rare musician who can completely captivate me with an interpretation miles away from what I would do--his Dvorak is a prime example. I would never, ever play it like that in a million years, but good God, how I love that recording!

October 6, 2007 at 06:14 AM · It's interesting that one of your two favorites doesn't play like you would. Leila J. doesn't listen to other violinists for enjoyment, because she prefers her interpretations. I'm not really enthused about a performance unless I wouldn't change anything. If it was light-years away, I'm thinking I probably would want to.

October 6, 2007 at 06:49 AM · Such is Vengerov's artistry that he can be my favorite contemporary violinist without being an exact mirror of my own musical ideals. He makes it convincing, that was my whole point to begin with.

October 6, 2007 at 11:30 AM · When something appeals to me I tend to want to use things from it I like, so the gap between it and what I would do starts closing.

October 7, 2007 at 02:26 AM · Jim W. Miller said: "chris, your vengerov clip there's nothing there except pretty sounds and bizarre face mugging. "

-maybe try listening without actually watching the video and keeping vengerov always in mind... I bet if I showed you just the audio clip of it, you wouldn't be complaining about some the music and the ill fitting suit

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