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CD Review

Higdon/Tchaikovsky

Concertos for Violin & Orchestra

Hilary Hahn, violin
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Deutsche Grammophon 4778777 68:16
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon JapanOrder Now from ArkivMusic.comFind it at CD Universe Find it at JPC

Jennifer Higdon's Violin Concerto is a masterpiece of modern musical writing that has everything a great piece should. Dedicated to Hillary Hahn, the work is unbelievably accessible without losing a sense of purpose and depth. Cast in three movements, some of the Classical Net staff were actually able to review this work in concert, and it is to them that I direct you for in depth analysis. Still, my rather humble ears like what they hear, not least for the thrilling virtuosity of Hahn, who really tears into this work and makes it her own.

The Tchaikovsky is given an equally daring and excitable reading, one that – like the greatest versions – makes you like the piece all over again. She also uses the "original" edition, without the traditional Auer edits. Unlike the composer's Second Piano Concerto, Auer's cuts have not made the work less popular or playable. We should remember that the First Piano Concerto is played in a heavily edited version, and again, nobody really minds. I reviewed the "original" First Piano Concerto, and I find that while there are differences aplenty, they don't necessitate me swearing allegiance to the composer's first thoughts. I feel the same way regarding the Violin Concerto; you're not exactly going to play this for friends simply because it's the original.

Rather, you'll play it because it is unquestionably one of the finest modern versions on the market, captured in outstanding sound and featuring Hahn in excellent form. Honestly, however you may feel about her in concert, only her very early Beethoven Concerto on Sony Classical comes across as less than outstanding in terms of the concerto repertoire on disc. Everything else has been spectacular, and this warmly projected Tchaikovsky is no exception. Vasily Petrenko is one of the best conductors alive right now, and this rare outing on Deutsche Grammophon lets he and his orchestra shine brightly. Maybe our pages didn't need a third review of this disc, but you owe it to yourself to own a copy.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman

Trumpet