First of all, I am not making this concert up. Sometimes the mountain comes to Muhammed. Although in this case, one cannot blame my colleague who voiced the question that was indeed on everyone’s mind: “how, exactly, did this happen?”
No one knows. Or at least no one I know knows. Possibly we are attempting to counter our reputation as a football school. Alternately, we may have agreed to some variety of targeted assassination. (Although if you are looking to bring in a violin recital in exchange for some third party getting whacked, I would go with Harvard or perhaps Princeton for that. We would probably fuck it up.)
But pace whoever it is that is about to be whacked, I think it was probably worth it. The program was a mixture of the more familiar and the less so. Among the more familiar was one of Fauré’s sonatas (No. 1 in A, Op. 13), which Hahn performed with a combination of big, sweeping, expressive sound and that particular nothing-over-the-top quality that I often hear and like in her performances. There’s plenty of emotion, but there’s also a sense of where the edges of things are. We also got one of Corelli’s Op. 5 violin sonatas (no. 4) which was interesting to me both because I’m familiar with it and I like it, but also because in this instance you could hear a moment, at the beginning of the vivace (the third movement) where it just seemed to snap together, and from that point on the whole piece clicked in a really beautiful way. I have heard this one quite a few times, but I was hearing new things in it this time.
One of the high points of the entire performance for me was the chaconne from BWV 1004. I wish she had played the whole partita, but I’ll take what I can get with this. The way Hahn played this, you could hear not just the music, but all the space in and around the music, especially in the quietest moments, when one got this really beautiful sense of the interplay between the sound of the violin and the space in the concert hall.
Mixed in alongside these were selections from her “In 27 pieces” project. These are a variety of short works for violin and piano by contemporary composers. Some of them, particularly Elliott Sharp’s “Storm of the eye” and the last two items on the program, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s “Impulse” and Michiru Oshima’s “Memories” were among the most musically intense moments of the entire recital. Hahn tore into these pieces with a passion and intensity that was really a thrill to listen to. Many of them have all kinds of cool dissonances and sound combinations – the variety of different tones she drew from the violin in these, everything from silky in Anton Garcia Abril’s “Third Sigh” to a sort of filmy, multi-layered sound in the harmonics in I think the Ali-Zadeh piece, was just amazing.
So. If Ms. Hahn ever wants to stop by here again sometime, she will be more than welcome.