IN 27 PIECES / THE HILARY HAHN ENCORES 4791725

. . . each [piece] is strikingly unique. I listened and took notes on all 27 pieces, and my observations varied wildly. Here is a sampling: "hypnotic and minimalist; rhythmically driving and complex; a tonal, beautiful melody; sirens and Psycho; busy and fast; fly buzzing; bluegrass language; mournful and throbbing; fast syncopation; Eastern and slide-y; deranged mental patient; melodic, as in a movie score."

One of the great albums of 2013 . . . It tries to revive the old tradition of the crowd-pleasing concert-topper in 27 new ways, with the more-than-able help of pianist Cory Smythe . . . there is much to love in this music. Although each piece is by someone else, the project itself is imprinted with Hahn's own personality: open, curious, collegial and unpretentious.

. . . the short works emerge as pieces worthy of placement at the top of a concert program rather than as encores. With such varied and distinguished composers . . . the project also serves as a useful sampler of contemporary composition.

. . . far from feeling like a disparate collection of miniatures, something seems to unite them all. And when you look into it, that something feels like nothing more nor less than the nurturing enthusiasm for the whole project of Hahn herself . . . no one can question this violinist's advocacy of the genre, or doubt her passionate commitment to "showing that the short piece is an art that should not be forgotten".

. . . [Hahn's new encores] brim with personalities as unique and varied as their composers. Somei Satoh's "Bifü" flows with long lines and a rippling piano, while Avner Dorman's "Memory Games" pulses ever forward with staccato notes that break suddenly for a reflective finish . . . [Elliott Sharp] closes "Storm of the Eye" with a terrific imitation of guitar feedback . . . [Mason Bates] pairs folksy, slinky double stops with pizzicato for a pleasantly surprising hoedown in "Ford's Farm". Hahn brings these myriad personalities to life with the élan of a seasoned character actor, armed with technique, timing, color, wit and guts.

. . . an impressive accomplishment from a gifted musician.

. . . this album is magnetic -- in Hahn's playing as well as in the diversity of excellent pieces written for her . . . intense focus and enthusiasm -- coupled with Hahn's remarkable technique -- come through in the 27 pieces here . . . Each piece is different, yet they all reflect Hahn's personality because she chose their creators. What I hear reflected is a desire to communicate rather than a desire to showcase technique. Our only response can be to sit back and want to listen to many of these pieces over and over again. It helps that Hahn has found a golden partner in pianist Cory Smythe, who is never far away with a bit of extra sparkle from his grand piano.

. . . a great new, two-disc release . . . the culmination of Hahn's remarkable project to boost the repertoire of violin encores. Composers old and young responded with an exceedingly wide range of ideas, producing quite the showcase for Hahn's prodigious technique and musicality. She is partnered on the recording by the excellent pianist Cory Smythe.

. . . an enterprising and consistently fun two-disc set . . . No fluff, but thoughtful, often introspective and imaginative miniatures that form a panorama of what's being written today.

Hahn was already a well-established virtuoso. This project marks her evolution as something far more interesting: a creative force.

Brilliantly performed by Hahn and pianist Cory Smythe, the results are on these two discs -- a grab bag of treasures . . . I'm right now obsessed with Avner Dorman's "Memory Games," a sort of mad, mazelike tango that might have been conceived by Conlon Nancarrow.

What makes this album crucial is . . . what it represents: a star soloist who has grown into a passionate advocate for the music of her time. If only every instrumentalist did projects like this.

Hahn showcases new composers with deeply musical and often fierce performances of commissioned works, with an equal partner in pianist Cory Smythe. Her finds are diverse but consistently intriguing . . . She provides a compelling sampling of the latest in music around the world, and the new pieces could not be in better hands.

Violinist Hilary Hahn's ingenious and open-hearted commissioning program . . . has given rise to one of the most enchanting new discs of the year. The pieces here come from a wondrously eclectic bunch of composers . . . and each of them has taken a different approach to the assignment. So the music is by turns rapturous or aggressive, plain-spoken or intricate, ripely melodic or full of rhythmic bite, and although you might expect such diversity to produce a sort of unfocused impression, the results are wholly delightful. As performed with passion and clarity by Hahn and superb pianist Cory Smythe, each new piece unfolds like a gift-wrapped surprise, bringing its own combination of stylistic premises and musical materials -- and then another one is just a few minutes away, and another, and another. It's as irresistible as a box of artisanal chocolates.

"In 27 Pieces" may represent a broad compass of styles, cultures and epochs, presented by an equally broad group of composers, but it is the ability of Hahn, and her accompanist Cory Smythe to bring out the individualities of each tiny vignette that lifts this disc from helpful reference for small-scale repertoire to satisfyingly cohesive collection of new works. Cohesive not just because each was written for Hahn herself and therefore goes some way towards representing her, but for the fact that she takes the composers' enormous variety of aspects on her playing and performs them as if she were a different player: in each, an actor unrecognisable from her previous role . . . There is certainly challenging music here, but it is satisfying to discover, piece by piece, that the . . . true ingenuity here is to be found in works such as "light moving" by American composer David Lang . . . and in the great beauty of Somei Satoh's "Bifu", and "Mercy" by Max Richter. This apparently niche-repertoire disc may be "specialist" but it is also a valuable investment in the future.

There's no doubting Hahn's commitment and technical assurance . . . and she projects the warmth of Valentin Silvestrov and David Del Tredici with as much strength as the extended techniques of Richard Barrett or the Indian-inflected lines of Kala Ramnath. In all this she's partnered expertly by Cory Smythe.

. . . [a] fascinating project . . . Smythe is a masterful collaborateur, and Hahn is dazzling throughout . . . these are twenty-seven brief, yet extraordinary, musical adventures performed by two remarkable artists.

. . . a collection of curiosities for the curious. Recommended . . .



Hilary Hahn plays superbly, and her tone and sweetness in soft passages is unlike anything I've ever heard . . . Mr. Smythe is a solid and reliable accompanist, and he stands out in the louder passages, balancing perfectly with the violin . . . The DGG sound recording and balance are excellent.

27 mal glüht unter den Händen dieser Geigerin eine extrem virtuose und emotional zupackende Kammermusik. Deren Rasanz und Impulsivität wird durch das temperamentvolle Zusammenspiel von Hilary Hahn und Cory Smythe noch gehörig gesteigert . . . [es] dominiert nicht ausschließlich das halsbrecherische Tempo auf dieser Produktion. Es darf auch mal ein traurig hingehauchter Gesang oder eine sphärische Klangmeditation sein . . . Das Duo beherrscht auch sämtliche Tugenden, auf minimalistischem Wege "Sound" zu machen und dafür geben diese neuen Kompositionen ebenfalls Gelegenheit.

. . . Hilary Hahn, gewiss einer der fünf besten Geiger(innen) der Gegenwart, präsentiert sich mit gewohnt süffigem, hinreißend schönem Ton in wiederum bestem Licht. Hier um so mehr, als hörbar das Lustprinzip regiert . . . es ist die CD einer überragenden Geigerin, die alle Sympathien verdient. Eine kleine Großtat.

. . . [eine stilistische Bandbreite von lyrisch-atmosphärisch] bis hin zu einem fast kabaretthaften Humor . . . Wie gewohnt spielt sie mit traumwandlerischen manuellen Fähigkeiten und einer perfekten Phrasierung . . . eine gelungene Idee.

Souverän jongliert sie mit den Stilen der zeitgenössischen Komponisten . . .

. . . [alle Stücke] ergeben eine wundervolle Überraschungskiste. Ob poetisch, akrobatisch oder unverständlich kurios: Hilary Hahn gibt jedem Werk seinen Charakter.

Wie gewohnt spielt sie mit traumwandlerischen manuellen Fähigkeiten und einer perfekten Phrasierung und bemüht sich zudem, jeder der Petitessen einen möglichst eigenen Charakter zu geben -- bei der kurzen Spieldauer der Stücke wahrlich keine leichte Aufgabe . . . eine gelungene Idee.

. . . [Hilary Hahn meistert dieses Kompendium] mit höchster Bravour und makelloser Perfektion; dabei erweist sich Cory Smythe als ebenbürtiger, agiler Partner am Klavier . . . [an der Originalität des Projekts besteht] kein Zweifel, und einige der gelungensten Miniaturen -- etwa die hochvirtuosen "Memory Games" von Avner Dorman oder, am avantgardistischen Ende des Spektrums, die subtil ausgehörte Studie "Shade" von Richard Barrett -- dürften durchaus Chancen haben, ins Zugabenrepertoire anderer Interpreten einzugehen.

. . . eine Bonbonniere voller nagelneuer Töne. Die Musik flüstert und schreit, sie splittert und haucht, sie tanzt, zwitschert und lacht. Du Yuns "When a Tiger Meets a Rosa Rugosa" entführt den Hörer mikrotonal in den Orient, Avner Dorman würfelt in "Memory Games" die Synkopen durcheinander, und Valentin Silvestrovs "Two Pieces" schmachten in der vertrauten Harmonik des späten 19. Jahrhunderts. Hahn und der Pianist Cory Smythe nutzen das Ausdrucksspektrum dieses Kaleidoskops voll aus. Spieltechnische Fußangeln? Doch nicht für Hahn.

. . . Es findet sich alles, was man sich für diese Besetzung ausdenken kann, von wilden Läufen und Sprüngen, von Doppelgriff-Akrobatik und Bogentechnik-Orgien über spröde Avantgarde-Studien, Minimalismus-Experimenten bis zu volksmusikhafter Rhythmik und elegisch fliessenden Schmachtfetzen. Illustre Namen der zeitgenössischen Musikszene . . .

Die beiden CDs dokumentieren nicht nur die Vielfarbigkeit, Eleganz, Leichtfüßigkeit und oft pure Schönheit des Hahn'schen Geigenspiels, sondern geben, gerade in der reizvollen Kürze der Stücke, überraschende Einblicke in den vielgestaltigen kompositorischen Einfallsreichtum unserer Zeit.

Dans un processus qu'elle qualifie de "déli cieusement imprévisible", la violoniste américaine s'est intensément engagée, chaque pièce l'exposant à des défis instrumentaux complexes. Le résultat est étonnant, l'expérience sans précédent. Une réalisation irréprochable et une lisibilité parfaite forcent une fois de plus l'admiration. Les influences de l'Extrême-Orient (Ramnath) croisent le folklore américain, le jazz et bien d'autres encores. Les climats d'apesanteur et de longues méditations mélancoliques (Satoh, Garcia Abril, Del Tredici, Rautavaara, Richter) alternent avec des atmosphères aussi énigmatiques qu'imprévisibles (Yun, Lam, Moravec, Whitehead, Barrett, Auerbach, Sharp, Eichberg), des images répétitives (Lang, Muhly) ou encore des pièces quasi tonales (Hatzis, Silvestrov, Oshima). Plus séduisants, Dorman, Bates, Higdon, Myers, Turnage et Howard apportent une touche de fantaisie et renouent de facon plus évidente avec la vocation première d'un bis . . . A l'auditeur, donc, de "goûter" peu à peu, car l'expérience mérite d'être vécue. Lesquelles de ces pièces s'imposeront au répertoire des bis? Faites vos paris!