Elgar: Violin Concerto etc. - Hilary Hahn
Deutsche Grammophon 474 873-2
Classical - Orchestral
Elgar: Violin Concerto Op. 61, Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
Hilary Hahn (violin)
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis (conductor)
Review by Mark Novak - November 16, 2004
I have come to love this work over time but it wasn't love at first listen. I guess that same sentiment applies to much of Elgar's orchestral work - he is a developed taste. There is a lot of sentimentality in this concerto and it is long which in some hands can mean boring. With respect to the recording at hand, Hilary Hahn is not boring. She invests plenty of warmth when it is needed but also brings excitement in the right places. Davis and band accompany very well; no evidence at all of fighting over the interpretation. For an artist so young, Hahn is well on her way to deveoping a mature view of the standard repertoire. I certainly hope she doesn't burn out but will continue to grow. I'd like to hear this work again in 20 years from her.
I must admit that I haven't listened yet to the Lark. But one wouldn't buy this SACD solely on that performance anyway as it is clearly a filler to the main event.
Sonically, this is a disappointment. Hahn's violin is way too upfront in the mix and while it has a decent tone, its balance is way out of proportion compared to a live concert experience. This is all too common of a problem with concerto recordings (Perlman's are among the worst in this repsect). I much prefer to hear the solo instrument in its natural place among the orchestra even if it may get a little swamped in the crescendos. But you know, the "stars" want to make sure they are heard. Other than that big faux pas, the orchestral recording is well balanced but the foibles of pcm still come through. If you are interested in the Elgar work, perhaps you could save a few bucks and get the redbook version since I don't expect the SACD really adds much to the 2-channel experience. Others will have to comment on the m-ch version.
Copyright © 2004 Mark Novak and HRAudio.net