52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2011
I will base my review on the "Chaconne" alone. I worked with this piece for 10 years as a player before I finally got it "right", and I am - as a composer and poet - deeply influenced by the music by Bach, especially the pieces for violin solo.
The Chaconne has been played faster and faster the last 50 years, and it has almost turned out to be a showpiece - especially for those players that claim to play it historically "right". The guitar-players have also made this piece "theirs", after the stunning recording by Andres Segovia. I think I have heard at least 50 recordings by this piece, from Enescu and Busch to Müllova. Not to mention many very great live-performances.
Hilary Hahn's recording is the version that comes closest to my idea of how this piece should be performed on a modern instrument. Yes, the tempo is very slow - as it should be. It is not slow because of limitations from the player, but because this is the tempo the piece itself - in my opinion - asks for. The detail-work here is just overwhelming, and no other player has taken me into the depth of the music as Hahn does - maybe with the exception of Johanna Martzy. So if you are interested in the spirit behind the music by Bach you should go for this one. If you are more interested in fireworks, you will be bored. But then Bach never should have been your composer anyways.
54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2006
I do a lot of writing in my work, so I don't hesitate to write book reviews but my musical abilities are so limited and little used that I do hesitate to discuss the work of anyone who clearly had more talent in their little finger than I have in total. That being said, I remain entranced by this recording and play it frequently. Ms Hahn brings what I believe to be great technique and incredible enthusiasm, drive, and energy to these pieces. The sheer joy of accomplishment shines through these performances. Another descriptor I might use for this encounter of player and part is fearless. With all that there is profound respect shown for the emotional range found in these two partitas. Yet it is the music that is shining through, not the musician. No doubt Ms Hahn will play these tunes differently in 30 years. Let's hope so. But she won't play them any better. She and Bach are helped along by very clear and highly defined sound. If these recordings don't make JS Bach smile up in heaven then none will.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2007
Let me start by saying that this is the first Hilary Hahn recording I've listened to, although I've been deeply immersed in classical music for the past 5 years or so.
I should also mention that I'm extremely biased towards Arthur Grumiaux's renowned recordings of these pieces, so much so that I won't even listen to Milstein's (and have yet to venture into Podger's.)
So I wasn't expecting much when listening to this for the first time yesterday. Boy was I shocked! I mean, how old was she when she recorded this? I won't say that she surpasses Grumiaux...I feel that her playing is slightly less aggressive or dynamic than his, but that's not meant as a knock because I find her playing to be beautiful and probing.
This is a perfect example of artistic interpretation; when you love a piece of music listen to several artists playing it. Each will have their own "take."
This CD is awesome and will become a much listened to part of my collection.
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2004
Ms. Hahn has a phenominal talent. Her knowing interpretation of the Partitas 2 and 3 goes to the spirit of Bach in a spine-tingling, joyous way. The famous Chaconne from Partita no. 2 can be played over and over always with fresh impressions. Superb.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2007
Many congratulations for such a GREAT and WONDERFUL Johann Sebastian Bach Debut album!! There are so many recordings of these Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin, but this one stands out as one of a really extraordinarily superb quality. Besides the superb quality of this recording, this recording is so particular since Hilary Hahn recorded these very difficult pieces for solo violin when she was still a "teenaged girl" aged 17 - and with this 1997 recording Hilary Hahn proved her extra class at this very young age by such a mature and remarkable as well as intelligent interpretation which can be heard in the same quality only from few other remarkable violinists. With her Debut album Hilary Hahn showed what a serious and mature violin virtuoso she is. This recording makes you immediately recognise how intensely and profoundly Hilary Hahn approaches the Bach sonata as well as the two partitas, how she explores and immerses them and so discovers and brings out for all to hear the spirit of them and gets out what is deeply inside them and inside their literature. And in doing so, Hilary Hahn knows exactly how to play each note and she manages to play these pieces technically without mistakes and provides a superb intonation and interpretation of them. Hilary performs these pieces for solo violin with much energy and spirit, but well under control and straightforwardly, she transfers all the excitement and vibrations of these wonderful pieces in an almost frightening precision and cleanliness of intonation and so she establishes a true communication between her and us, the listeners and her audiences. Hilary Hahn (even back then) avoides any unnecessary over-emphasising and flourish - and false notes could already not be heard from her even in this, her Debut recording! So, for me this a FIVE STARS RECORDING, not only but also due to the fact that Hilary Hahn was so brave to record these very difficult pieces at such a young age, so early in her career - and of such tremendous quality and precision -, while other violin virtuosos normally take more time to record them!
This way this Debut album of Hilary Hahn in some way can be considered kind of a "Big Bang of Hilary Hahn's Violinistical Universe" which has been expanding since then - and now has been doing so for ten years! -, and Hilary Hahn once a year releases to our great delight new interpretations from her yearly published CD recordings! From then on it has been clearly obvious and visible how Hilary Hahn's "Violinistical Universe" has been expanding so continuedly, e. g. from her recordings made in 2005 as well as from her latest ones made last year, in "Mozart Year" 2006. With these recordings made by Hilary Hahn of the Mozart violin sonatas (2005) as well as of the Paganini & Spohr violin concerti (2006) Hilary Hahn once again succeeded in making her fans and audiences enthusiastic about the magic and spirit that come from her violin play and which inspire us, her fans and audiences, and bring us to great excitement! Like in her latest recordings of the both extremely difficult Paganini and Spohr violin concerti, even in her Bach solo recordings there is not the slightest touch of difficulty to be heard or recognised in her violin play, but which are without doubt included in a great amount in the pieces for solo violin chosen by her. Hilary Hahn's violin play was in this early recording (Bach) the same light, easy and lively and mature one that she has kept until today (Paganini & Spohr), Hilary's recordings always sound completely effortless/unforced and she somehow manages to cover all difficulties contained in these pieces and to "hide" these with her gentle and smooth as well as very serious violin play.
So, there remains hope that Hilary Hahn will soon also record the remaining two sonatas as well as the remaining partita! At least the Presto from sonata No. 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach can be heard and seen on Hilary Hahn's DVD "The Last Night of the Proms" - at least we have that one from her, which will, as I hope, be completed sometime in the future! Hopefully, we don't have to wait for too long for Hilary Hahn's recordings of these remaining Bach pieces for solo violin, so that we will be able to listen to and enjoy the interpretation of these Bach works for solo violin by Hilary Hahn!
My VERY BEST RECOMMENDATIONS for this tremendous and wonderful Bach CD by Hilary Hahn!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2008
I was told by my music teacher many years ago, that the longer one listened to classical music, the smaller the ensemble one would enjoy. I am 60, and have reached the string quartet and soloist stage. I have enjoyed Bach's music for solo violin and cello for years, and play the viola transcription of the cells suites myself for enjoyment. I have several versions of Bach's solo violin music, and value Hilary Hahn's interpretations above all others, most especially her interpretation of the Chaconne. I believe this is one of the great compositions in western music, and I have heard no better performance than hers. It is difficult to put into words exactly why, but this is a critic's task. I suppose it is due to the combination her wonderfully deep and intense tone and precise articulation, but it is also due to the magic of her own interpretation of this great composition. I have listened to this track many times, and never cease to be deeply moved by it, as well as the remainder of the music. Six stars for this track alone. The other tracks rate five easily, for the same reasons.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2012
It is difficult to explain exactly how this happened. Yes, Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the greatest composers (maybe the greatest) of all time, and Hilary Hahn is an extremely talented violinist. But those two things cannot completely account for the result of this album--a listening experience of incomparable intellectual depth and artistic beauty. The critics will talk about the fact that Hilary Hahn was only 17 when she made this recording, and that a performer that young cannot have enough life experiences (or musical experiences) to achieve a great performance (blah, blah, blah). But those who listen instead of talk, know that somehow all the stars and planets were perfectly aligned, and the inexplicable result is one of the greatest recordings of all time.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2007
This was of course my first recording of Bach for solo violin as well as my first recording of Hilary Hahn that I purchased now some years ago. The recording is in a word, breathtaking, and keep in mind, she was only 17 at the time. I can think of no other violinist who was this mature at this age, certainly not in the modern reocrding age. Her intonation is as perfect as it has always been, even if some may disagree with her choice of tempi. There is certainly room for more than one viewpoint and it seems unfair to compare this recording to others, certainly not when we are talking about the recording of one instrument by one artist. But her playing never feels lonesome, small or isolated in any way. The recorded sound is flawless. There is no interpreting here, just beautifully played notes, that is, just music. It is Bach that is played not as it is simply written, but as it is felt, or perhaps as much as is humanly possible. Most importantly, there is a sensitivity and a sense of engagement that is present in this music and in this playing that speaks volumes of this violinists love of the music she is playing, that outweighs any comparison to other recordings or violinists. (She still does and often has, warmed up regularly with these pieces in practice.) There is a joy in this recording that is conveyed to the listener. It would seem to be her trademark. Hilary Hahn loves this music and as a result I love this recording as many others have. More than 8 years later it is still as fresh to my ears as it was the first time I heard it. If you like Bach, or just like the sound of the violin, I highly reccommend this recording. You won't be disappointed.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2007
I was just reminded of something I did a few months ago, while reading another review of Hilary Hahn Plays Bach. In another review it was pointed out that every new performance of this music stands in the shadows of violin masters past.
While saving several CDs to my PC for future transfer to MP3 player I found a Heifetz CD with the Ciaconna of Partita #2 on it. So I tossed (gently placed?) it into my pc & let it play. Thirty seconds into the Heifetz performance I had to stop it. It took me awhile to realize just how much i hated just hearing the notes being played without any feeling.
I immediately played Hilary Hahn's performance of the piece, and when calm was restored I realized how angry I had become.
I was having a "two short planks" moment. Perhaps you'll understand if I say it was one of those moments where you question what has happened to your brains (not wanting to insult light haired folk). I didn't get it! All this was over one note.
So if it is true that all performances of this music must stand in the shadow of violin masters past, then I say that ALL performances of the past, present & future must stand in the considerable shadow of one Hilary Hahn.
Happy to note that the Heifetz CDs found the trash.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2009
One summer night, while the moon was waxing, I heard heavenly music. It was obviously Bach. I found out it was the Ciaccona from partita no 2 for violin in D minor (BWV 1004). The grave and yearning music grabbed my heart. The music is played by Hilary Hahn; the technique is no issue for this magician on the violin. She can concentrate fully on the soul of the music. The melody flows efortless. If it is the grave Alemande of partita no 2, the joyes Gigue, the humorous hop of the Bourré or partita no 3 in E major (BWV 1006), or the wistful Adagio of the sonata no 3 in C major (BWV 1005) which is the third Bach composition on this exquisite cd. A must in the cd collection of every lover of music. The great master Bach touches the divine. It is in the top ten o my favorites