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CD Review

Chloë Hanslip

  • John Adams: Violin Concerto
  • John Corigliano: Chaconne from The Red Violin
  • George Enescu: Romanian Rhapsody #1 (arr. Franz Waxman)
  • Franz Waxman: Tristan and Isolde Fantasia *
Chloë Hanslip, violin
* Charles Owen, piano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin
Naxos 8.559302
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Chloë Hanslip (b. 1987) is a rising star among English violinists, and this, her third recording, attests to her considerable talents. The main work here is John Adams' 1993 Violin Concerto, a dark piece of great depth and color. Ms. Hanslip captures the soul of this complex work with an intense and fiery reading that would seem the product of a mature virtuoso, not that of a gifted teenager.

Of the half-dozen or so previous recordings of this concerto, all had timings in the thirty-three to thirty-four minute range, and so does this new one by Hanslip, which clocks in at 33:36. This fact might suggest to some that she is familiar with the work of her competition in this concerto (Gidon Kremer, Leila Josefowicz, Robert McDuffie, etc.). While that may be so, I'll surmise that American conductor Leonard Slatkin imparted some advice to her on interpretation – good advice. In any event, Hanslip turns in a fine performance of this imaginative work, divulging a nearly perfect marriage between interpretive insight and virtuoso technique. Could she become the next Hilary Hahn? I think so.

Slatkin, for his part, contributes generously to the effort, deftly catching the dark, roiling harmonies and rhythms throughout the first movement, as well as the mournful, intense character of the middle panel and the colors and tricky rhythms of the Toccare finale. The orchestra performs brilliantly for him, too, not just here but in the other works on this disc.

Hanslip delivers a fine reading of the Corigliano piece, no doubt making some admirers wish she had recorded the other two movements rather than the shorter fillers. Hanslip and company turn in fine work in the short Enescu arrangement and the Waxman Fantasia: the readings are colorful and committed from all parties, but the music is less compelling. The Waxman Tristan offshoot always sounds better when Waxman steps back to allow Wagner's voice to come clearly through. Still, it's not a bad work, and it does allow the young violinist a chance to display the considerable range of her talents. In the end then, this disc will be a most desirable purchase for collectors because of the searing performance of the Adams Concerto alone. The sound reproduction, as usual with Naxos, is excellent and the notes by Richard Whitehouse informative. Strongly recommended.

Copyright © 2006, Robert Cummings