Silfra is the impressive result of a musical collaboration that developed gradually and organically over more than two years. American violinist Hilary Hahn and German pianist Hauschka were introduced by the American folk musician Tom Brosseau, who is signed to the same label as Hauschka. He and Brosseau had recently done a joint concert tour of the United States, and shortly before that Hilary Hahn had featured on Brosseau s album Grand Forks. So when the award-winning violinist performed a concert in Dusseldorf in October 2008, Brosseau made sure that Hauschka was in the audience. The mood at their brief meeting after the concert was positive and friendly, although at that point there was no talk of them working together. This changed a few weeks later, however, when Hauschka performed with Brosseau and the Magik*Magik Orchestra at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco, and Hilary Hahn joined them for the last, improvised piece. An idea was born. Another few weeks passed before Hahn and Hauschka had the opportunity to discuss it in more detail. Both knew that they wanted to work together on something completely new. The idea was to find a form of collaboration that would allow them to venture into new musical terrain but still preserve their singular virtuosity. There was to be no specific objective, however the project was centred on exploration and experimentation. Both of these exceptionally gifted musicians have said that their curiosity about and interested in the other person s work was an important motivation behind their collaboration.
Hahn and Hauschka began rehearsing together in early 2009 although these cannot really be described as rehearsals in a traditional sense. Through improvisation they discovered more about their respective musical approaches while defining a shared musical language.When they were in different parts of the world they would send each other music files and then improvise on these pieces or layer them with additional sound tracks. The only public indication of their collaboration was when Hahn played solo violin on the track Girls on Hauschka s album Salon des Amateurs, which was released in 2011.
For Hauschka, who prepares the strings of his piano with small pieces of metal, clips or different kinds of foils to create new sounds and modify the dynamics of the instrument, improvisation is a crucial element in his everyday life as a performer. And for Hahn, too, improvising is a way of adding new dimensions to her interpretations of composed works.
In early 2011 Hauschka and Hahn first began talking about going into the recording studio. Here, too, the process itself was the goal, and for this reason they didn t tell anyone what they were planning neither their colleagues nor their record companies were informed, so that no commissioning agent or external pressure could influence the outcome of their collaborative efforts. In May 2011 Hahn and Hauschka met at the prestigious Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavik, Iceland. They took no scores with them and ignored the set pieces they had already developed, as everything they were going to record was to be improvised.
The only exception to this was the piano line of Krakow. Hauschka had previously sent this to Hahn and asked her to improvise on it. Its sepia-tinted nostalgia intrigued her. During the recordings, they revisited the track and Hahn reworked the violin parts on the spot. Krakow is also the only track on the album where Hauschka did not prepare the piano.
This unconventional working method after all, musicians usually go into the studio to record music they have already prepared enabled Hahn and Hauschka to integrate the prevailing mood and their spontaneous impressions into their recondings. Producer Valgeir SigurÃ°sson, who has worked with a diverse array of artists ranging from BjÃ¶rk to Bonnie Prince Billie, und
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