Whether you’re a Bach aficionado or just getting into classical music, I highly recommend Bach Concertos by Hilary Hahn with Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
Hilary Hahn at 26 is one of the finest internationally known classical musicians. She was named “America’s Best” young classical musician by Time magazine in 2001. She began studying the violin one month before her 4th birthday. At age 10 she was admitted to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music and made her debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra a year and a half later.
Here she is backed up by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Jeffrey Kahane. LACO is in its 37th season and is nationally and internationally acclaimed for music-making of the highest artistic caliber.
Of course, Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the best-known and best-loved composers ever (ah! Bach!) The dramatic and emotional force of his music inspired Wagner to call his work “the most stupendous miracle in all music.”
This recording consists of four of his lesser-known but excellent concertos. Performed by the smaller chamber orchestra, the more intimate sound is perfectly suited to the music. The opening number, Concerto for violin, strings and continuo in E major, begins with a light-hearted, lyrical movement with the intricate combinations and patterns Bach is know for. After a slower, more soulful interlude the more buoyant, cheerful music returns.
The second piece, in my opinion, is one of the most gorgeous pieces of music ever written. Concerto for 2 violins, strings and continuo in D minor begins with a lively passage by the orchestra before the two violins start their duet. This is a perky “question and answer” tune with interweaving themes, dueling violins if you will, flowing into a fast-paced game of tag. The second movement is smooth and lush, the music ascending and descending in an undulating pattern. It reaches peaks and valleys before softly coming to an end. I once saw a ballet choreographed to this piece of music. At one point, the dancers, holding hands, wove smoothly under each others arms into an intricate knot and then unwound just as gracefully without breaking apart. It defined the music perfectly. The third movement returns to the playful dueling in earnest with the whole orchestra getting into the act.
The last two pieces include the Concerto in A minor for violin, strings and continuo, a beautiful, lyrical piece in which Hahn’s artistry really stands out, and the Concerto in C minor for oboe, violin, strings and continuo which has an exciting ending.
It’s a perfect cd for relaxing and interesting listening.
Review by Donna