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CLASSICAL  October 2005

CLASSICAL October 2005

Subject:

Mozart Violin Sonatas from Hilary Hahn

From:

Donald Satz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 26 Oct 2005 08:44:07 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (57 lines)

   Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
       Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Sonata in F major, K. 376 [17:36]
Sonata in G major, K. 301 [14:17]
Sonata in E minor, K. 304 [12:41]
Sonata in A major, K. 526 [25:08]

Hilary Hahn, violin
Natalie Zhu, piano
Recorded Fisher Center for the Performing Arts,
Bard College, NY, February/November 2004
Released October 2005
Deutsche Grammophon B0004771-02 [69:42]

Comparison (K. 304 & 526) - Steinberg/Uchida/Philips

Just three months ago I reviewed a fabulous Mozart Violin Sonatas disc
played by Mark Steinberg and Mitsuko Uchida.  Now, the immensely popular
25 year-old Hilary Hahn tries her hands at these works partnered by
Natalie Zhu on piano.

Uchida/Steinberg is a hard act to follow, but Hahn and Zhu pass the test.
Zhu doesn't possess Uchida's elasticity or softness of touch, but she
offers a ceremonial element that is very appealing.  Zhu and Hahn display
excellent teamwork, and both are emotionally invested in the music as
evidenced by their heart-felt refrains in the anguished and spiritually
uplifting 2nd Movement of the Sonata in E minor.

The major difference between the two sets of performances rests on
the approach of the respective violinists.  At one end of the spectrum
is Steinberg with a historically informed performance style of lean
tone/texture and minimal vibrato.  Hahn ignores the past 40 years of
accumulated insight as to the style of playing during Mozart's era and
offers us a rather thick tone with vibrato either lurking or on full
display in nearly every note.  My preference is definitely with Steinberg's
style, but I assume that many listeners would favor Hahn's way with these
classical era works.  The sonics of the Hahn disc are excellent, and Zhu
is given more flattering sound than Uchida who has to deal with swimmy
acoustics.

Don's Conclusions: Hilary Hahn and Natalie Zhu make a fine duo that well
brings out the melodic genius of Mozart.  I do caution that those who
prefer the Violin Sonatas on period instruments or modern ones played
in an historically informed manner will find Hahn's style problematic.

For a different opinion, I refer readers to the MusicWeb International
review that finds Hahn not in tune with the spirit of the music and on
the drab side.  Although my view of the disc is more favorable, we are
in agreement that Hahn/Zhu is not an essential part of one's Mozart
collection.  My recommendations for the most rewarding modern instrument
recordings of Mozart Violin Sonatas remain Uchida/Steinberg, Lonquich/
Zimmermann on EMI, Haebler/Szeryng on Philips, and Klein/Grumiaux on
Philips.

Don Satz
[log in to unmask]

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