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Bach: Violin & Voice

18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 12, 2010
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Frequently Bought Together

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Product Description

To the vocal lines of arias and duets, Bach composed gorgeous violin obbligati. In this novel album, Hilary Hahn records these obbligati exclusively - an act of devotion no other virtuoso violinist has ever committed to disc. Sharing this album with Hahn are soprano Christine Sch fer and baritone Matthias Goerne, both also renowned Bach exponents. Numbers from such masterpieces as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor are rendered with an unearthly beauty and a reverence that add to this recording's historical significance. In truth, this album features not two but three singers - Hahn elicits from her Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume tone as sung by a golden voice.


"Hilary Hahn is a formidable musician. She astonishes audiences in performance after performance and recording after recording with her superb technical prowess, refined good taste and intuitive musical understanding . . . she is able instinctively to combine a highly assured virtuoso ability with a deeply thoughtful engagement with the score . . . this technically awe-inspiring, wonderfully imaginative violinist . . ." -- Gramophone Awards Issue, London, November 2008
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Product Details

  • Performer: Matthias Goerne, Christine Schafer
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (January 12, 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B002SSZ7E6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,616 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Erik Ketzan on March 5, 2010
Format: Audio CD
With so many artists re-treading the same ground in classical music-- endless recordings of the same popular warhorses, especially by violinists-- Hilary Hahn is charting her own path. First, these are not overly-recorded pieces: a couple selections from the St Matthew Passion and Mass in B Minor, plus a bunch of cantatas. Second, no other recording of these pieces (I listened to a bunch for sake of comparison) sound anything like Hahn's-- she places the violin and voices front and center for this recording, regardless of where Bach's sheet music and previous recordings place them in the orchestral mix, and that's a great thing. Third, Hahn continues her musical journey with this album, applying her signature style (clean, fast, crisp... dare I say, American?) to music that's never been recorded with that kind of violin sound.

In sum, this is new music. Which is exactly what classical music needs.

Baritone Matthias Goerne and soprano Christine Schäfer are stellar. Hahn shines. It's a great album. Looking forward to Hahn's recording of Jennifer Higdon's violin concerto.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Thomas on January 17, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It was Hilary Hahn's idea to create this unique concept album that juxtaposes violin and voice in a set of widely varied Bach arias and duets with solo violin. There is no questioning the credentials of these fine musicians, particularly in the realm of Bach interpretation, and they deliver an outstanding recording that merits many repeat listenings. Some may argue that this grouping of "soloists" with continuo accompaniment results in a lack of uniform style, but historicity and conventionality notwithstanding, the balance is quite pleasing and musical.

The sheer variety of Bach works on this single album is remarkable, including selections from the St. Matthew Passion, cantatas both sacred and secular, and the Mass in B Minor. One is hard-pressed to identify outstanding tracks, but some of my favorites include "Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder," "Wann kommst du, mein Heil?," "Angenehmer Zephyrus," and "Erbarme dich." The "Erbarme dich," probably the most well-known work on the album, is particularly poignant in its curious blend of austerity and sentiment.

When listening to this recording, one might not be able to decide whether it sounds old-fashioned or distinctly new. The best description probably includes both aspects. Whether you are new to Baroque music or have long appreciated it, you can't go wrong here. This recording is a true gem.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Henry Kaspar on January 21, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this CD on recommendation from my fellow reviewer Mr. Ogan, had high expectations, and have not been disappointed. Great idea, and overall fine execution, although with some differentiation.

Matthias Goerne is easily worth 5 stars, with his warm, expressive, smooth voice that goes so well with Bach. Christine Schaefer overall also delivers a fine performance, although at times her soprano sounds a little thin, in particular in "erbarme Dich" (which, in all fairness, has been written for a deeper, fuller alto voice). Hilary Hahn plays beautifully, very clean, with marvelously intelligent phrasing. Sometimes I wish though she would dare to adopt a bigger tone, in particular when paired with Goerne.

The weakest part, in my view, is the Munich Chamber Orchestra, which often provides little more than a shallow backdrop to the soloists, rather than emphasizing the counterpunctual lines that Bach has also written into the orchestra score. Maybe it is also suffering from what appear to be rather dry acoustics.

Bottom line: 4 stars (not everything can be 5), and a must for Hahn-, Goerne- and Schaefer-Fans.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 17, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This disc is a collection of some of Bach's arias which have a particularly prominent violin part. They are largely taken from the Cantatas but include both "Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder" and "Erbarme dich" from the St. Matthew Passion and "Laudamus te" from the B minor Mass - all very beautiful, evocative music.

The performances are excellent. I tried this disc largely because I admire Matthias Goerne's work very much. He is in excellent form here, particularly as he opens the disc with a wonderful performance of "Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder," and Christine Schäfer is also very good. Hilary Hahn (who gets top billing) plays with great fluency, excellent technique and a lovely sound and she has real affinity with this music. For me she is just a little on the Romantic side in her phrasing and use of vibrato, but that's just a matter of personal taste and the overall effect is very beautiful.

My reservations lie in the programme itself. Although each individual movement here is exceptionally beautiful, they are written to be performed as part of larger, varied works. In their original context each shines like a jewel, but playing them one after another on this disc I thought they lost some of their lustre and I found myself longing for a chorus or piece of recitative to frame them. Even the sublime Mendelssohn arrangement of "Erbarme dich" which concludes the disc seemed flat and lifeless after eleven somewhat similar sounding movements, but when I returned next day and played just that track it was just wonderful. A more varied and adventurous programme would have worked much better, I think.
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