In this two-CD collection, Hilary Hahn introduces 27 original works for the violin and piano. The music was specially commissioned by Hahn and recorded in 2012 and 2013. Hahn has been acclaimed as one of the most outstanding violinists of her generation ever since her first record appeared when she was 15. I am a fan.
Hahn’s original idea arose from what she perceived as a gap in the violin repertoire. The encore repertoire contains pieces that were written in the past. Encores written by modern composers are in scant supply. The pieces she selected for this collection feature a variety of moods and styles. Some are virtuosic, some rhythmic, others serious and thoughtful. Hahn is a world-class soloist and can play anything. The music flows and fits together well. The longest track is six minutes long. Hahn and pianist Cory Smythe play beautifully.
Hahn approached many modern composers to provide new music. She cold-called twenty-six composers (a process she compares to asking someone out on a date). A twenty-seventh composer, Jeff Myers (The Angry Birds of Kauai), was selected through an online contest. The composers include several well-known names, such as David del Tredici, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Jennifer Higdon, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Lera Auerbach, James Newton Howard, and Max Richter.
Hahn can be found interviewing each composer on her website and YouTube channel. She comes across as friendly, likable, and humble. I particularly enjoyed her chat with Max Richter, whose music I really like. Richter told Hahn he discovered modern composers like Philip Glass with help from his milkman. The milkman heard him practicing Beethoven and decided to broaden his mind. Richter is funny and his composition is my favorite on the album.
I really enjoyed the music. This collection won the Grammy Award for “Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance.”