On Friday, October 7th, the world renowned violinist Hahn released her latest CD titled “Eclipse.” This latest recording features two concertos; Dvorak’s beloved violin concerto and the ground-breaking and virtuosic violin concerto of Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. The CD is rounded out by Pablo de Sarasate’s showy and fiery Carmen Fantasy.
The “Eclipse” project was a long time in the making, and Hahn is quick to point out in the booklet that the recording almost did not happen.
Hahn had been infatuated with the Ginastera Concerto and knew what she wanted to do with it from a performance standpoint. She also wanted to combine the Ginastera with pieces that all violinists love performing. As Hahn explains, “I found that the natural pieces to go along with the Ginastera were pieces that we all love doing…the Dvorak Concerto and the Sarasate Carmen Fantasy.”
Hahn took a year sabbatical, with the idea being that once she returned the whole season would be centered around this recording. Performances were booked and everything was going according to plan, but then the pandemic hit, and it changed everything. “When I came back for the next season…a lot of my season…almost all of it was cancelled, including all of my Ginastera and Sarasate performances.“
The first time she would play these pieces would be while the mics were hot. Both the Dvorak and the Ginastera were new to Hahn and there would be no trial runs in performance leading up to the recording process. As Hahn explains, “I ultimately concluded that whatever I have learned in the course of the break, whether it was the chosen break or the enforced break… whatever I’d evolved as a musician…practicing by myself for two years, without the input of colleagues…it would show itself in this really pivotal moment. And we might as well have the mics running for it.”
Thankfully the mics were indeed on! Hahn has recorded an outstanding performance of the Dvorak Concerto. This is a piece dozens of violinists have recorded, an yet Hahn manages to put her own uniquely wonderful flair and interpretation on the piece, and does so with her typically gorgeous sound, and flawless intonation.
Ginastera’s violin concerto was written in the 1960s for the New York Philharmonic and the great violinist Ruggiero Ricci. This is a piece Hahn has been infatuated with for a long time, and for good reason. It is a real tour-de-force for the violinist and the musicians of the orchestra. It is a shame it is not more a part of the 20th century violin literature.
Ginastera starts the concerto out with a show-stopping cadenza for solo violin, and builds out the concerto from the material presented by the soloist. There are elements of Latin American influence in the concerto, as well as tip of the cap moments to the original soloist Ruggiero Ricci, including a very noticeable quote from Paganini’s 24th Caprice in the final movement. The second movement is a tribute to the exceptional musicians of the New York Philharmonic. Written for just soloist and 22 musicians, this movement highlights the principal players of the orchestra alongside the soloist.
With this recording Hahn successfully manages to navigate the huge demands put on the soloist by Ginastera. The musicians of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony orchestra, under Andres Orozco-Estrada’s direction, create some of the most beautiful, and interesting sound worlds, while at the same time working as a perfect partner to Hahn.
Hahn has come out of the musical Eclipse created by the pandemic and with this latest recording is not only back in the light, but is shining like a star as well!
Hear Chris Wolf’s conversation with Hilary Hahn here: