Hahn and Milstein solo Bach
How would you compare the G minor Sonata 1 Adagio played by Hillary Hahn
and Nathan Milstein
Interesting. Hahn is carefully sculpted and has a lot of nice detail. Special attention paid to harmony, although there is one jarring phrase entry that is out of tune with the previous one. For all that, it is very slow-- so much so, that it loses the character of speech and gets a bit bogged down. (1 minute longer than Milstein, if that matters.)
I admire both artists!
I think of it as a process of evolution rather than stark contrast. Different moods and expressions all part of the same package.
Hahn has said that her Bach is inspired by Milstein's. I do love both of their recordings.
Forgot to say that-- much to enjoy in both.
As a general observation, modern artists, like Hahn and Ehnes, seem to pay very close attention to the harmony and chords in Bach, frequently languishing on chord for a hair longer than some of the great artists of the past, like Milstein. IOW, harmony and melody are treated as equals by Hahn.
I think the Hahn version is simply perfect, at least in terms of sound quality. Perhaps "too" perfect, although this is not really what I feel, I only think "wow this is just sublime". Milstein is very "human", like a really very good violinist who is playing the piece personally for you. You can easily imagine Milstein playing the violin while hearing the recording. With the Hahn recording, all I hear is perfection, and scared to imagine that a human can play so well. There is of course a big warning that we are comparing two recordings, with possibly very different treatments regarding editing, effects, technology, splicing, what have you.
I saw Hilary Hahn in Bergen this summer, and noticed that in many of the pieces her feet moved in small dance steps. I suspect that she has studied the music deeply enough to learn the actual dances, so that now her feet move involuntarily to the rythm.
I will break with the tone of this thread and boldly state that I do not like Hahn's version. I find it so beautiful as to be boring (as our religion teacher once said: "The most boring place you will ever get int is heaven; all the interesting people are in hell"). Playing every note correctly and with beautiful tone is just not enough for me. Especially if one plays so slowly as to make the metrum almost unrecognizable--even in the absence of rubato.
Speaking of which, I've been enjoying the Midori Goto set (though I suppose she's a generation older than HH.)
So question for Bruce--
I vastly prefer Milstein's S&P's, and find HH's to be unengaging in spite of her technical prowess and command of the instrument. Milstein's is more honest to me, my heart flutters quite a bit more in response to Milstein's.
There are many wonderful performances of the Bach S&P's that I like, some vastly different from each other. In such an "exposed" piece, individual differences are inevitable. But when all is said and done, I have to say that by far the greatest performance I have ever heard of any of them was a live performance in Orchestra Hall in Chicago by Nathan Milstein.
In my opinion hahn shines most not in this adagio but in the in fugue where she creates the most intense rhythmic sound without any crunch or ugliness
I agree with Mark's comment - Hilary's singular talent in these sonatas and partitas to eradicate any sense of unease or technical discomfort boggles the brain. The purity of the double stops, the melodic and unforced double/triple stopping, and the continuous musical line are all marvels.
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