Hilary Hahn’s Recital in Turkey ~ A Review

Hilary Hahn performing at the İş Sanat Cultural Center, Istanbul, Turkey (Photo courtesy of İş Sanat)hilaryinistanbul

Hilary Hahn–Recital
Selections from In 27 Pieces and music from Bach, Corelli and Fauré
Hilary Hahn, violin
Cory Smythe, piano
Istanbul Concert Hall at İş Sanat Cultural Center
Istanbul, Turkey
Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Written by Alain Matalon

It is not, and certainly should not be, exclusive to luxury brand sponsored male pianists to make a fashion statement on the concert stage. Before she dazzled our ears, Ms. Hilary Hahn, stunned our visual slant as she appeared on stage in a close-fitting nude-colored gown adorned with ethnic embroidery on top, and below the waist, ten rows of golden tassels (that, as a friend put later “danced a frenetic foxtrot, or a genial waltz depending on the music she happened to be playing”). Accompanying her was Mr. Cory Smythe on the piano for an evening celebrating the union of the very old, the old, and the very new.

The duo was in Istanbul for a special evening to mark the fruits of Hilary Hahn’s recent In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores project. Out of the eight pieces that were played, four of them were World Premieres (and, according to Ms. Hahn, the other four were “Northern Hemisphere debuts”). The program was designed to reflect as much contrast as possible with the encore pieces scattered around the traditional ones.

hilaryinistanbul5The Corelli Op. 5 No. 4 in F Major, a rather easy feat for the competent pair, kicked the evening to a jocund start followed by three encores from the project in their world premiere: James Newton Howard’s “133… At Least”, a fast and uneasy number dealing mostly with rising and falling chromatic melodies in Ms. Hahn’s expert hands; A.G. Abril’s “Three Sighs”: a peculiar amalgam of lush and lyrical violin against sharp, staccato piano attacks from Mr.Smythe and Mason Bates’ “Ford’s Farm”, a rhythmically structured dance music accentuating the perfect sync between the two musicians. Continue reading

Miranda Cuckson

Miranda Cuckson, violinist

Violinist Miranda Cuckson had a few minutes to talk about her latest CD: a new recording of Luigi Nono’s la lontananza nostalgica utopica futura which is going to be dropping this weekend. Miranda has not one but 2 events launching the CD–Friday, January 4th and Saturday, January 5th, 7 PM at Spectrum in New York.

CM: Can you talk about your latest CD of the Luigi Nono piece?

Miranda: This is basically a very late work of Nono’s. It’s for violin and 8-track tape, and much like Nono’s work as a whole, it involves a lot of elements of theatre and a lot of political themes and undercurrents to it. Basically, in the piece, the violinist moves from various stations within the performing space for each of the sections, and there are also 8 speakers, and it involves a live performance by the sound engineer, who controls the material on the tapes to decide which of the tracks are going to be heard at whatever time and from which locations in the hall.
The violinist is basically supposed to embody this figure of a wanderer, so, the character is kind of a symbol of both any human being wandering through life, but he was also at the time very concerned about fascism in Europe and refugees from wartime and all those kinds of things. There’s a lot of strange sounds on the tape like thumping and crashing–a sense of the real world around this person. A very eerie, not really comfortable environment. Continue reading

Lisa Germano


Lisa Germano (wow, more than a singer-songwriter, she plays a variety of instruments as you well may know) is releasing a new album titled No Elephants in February of next year, and having heard it, I am blown away by her music yet again. Taking the path to a very self-made musical place has really taken her seemingly so far apart from the days when she was mostly playing sideman to John Mellencamp and appearing with artists like Billy Joel, Simple Minds, etc. Her efforts as a musician showed a person of prowess, but her music revealed much more complex pictures and a vulnerability that couldn’t always be fully expressed by a full rock band.
She had a few minutes to speak with me about some of this.

CM: I had a chance to hear the new CD No Elephants–For me, It is very hard to describe your music, even ever since your first album! I really enjoy it, and this new one is already a classic (My favorite tracks so far are “A Feast” and “Strange Bird”). It’s interesting for its brevity at 35 mins. and it leaves one wanting more. The thing that catches me a good deal of the time is your use of non-musical things and making them musical, and here the most obvious thing is the cell-phone interference static noise on a few of the songs. Can you talk about this and where you came up with this idea?

Lisa: On my new record No Elphants, I wanted to convey my confusion and frustration relating to people on cell phones, our abuse of communication and how this affects our relationship to the earth and its beings. So many people on their cells or computers. Not communicating is sad to me, so Jamie Candiloro and I found all sorts of sounds relating to this and added them into many parts of the record sometimes to me funny in a tragic sort of way. The communication with the animal sounds, cell and computer sounds dancing together is the point here..
Jamie is awesome–always finds what I’m hearing. Continue reading

Hilary Hahn with Trail of Dead ~ “To Russia My Homeland” (Live in Moscow, 2006)

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Hilary Hahn ~ violin
“To Russia My Homeland” (written by Conrad Keely)
Live at unknown venue, Moscow, Russia; 4/22/06
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Apologies for the shaky camera, this was shot in a rock club in Russia by either a roadie or a band member, not sure)

This is something I decided to post for Hilary Hahn’s birthday, and since I wasn’t too sure if most people had ever seen this clip,  I thought now would be a good time. It’s something that continues to give me a very odd feeling for some reason. I’m not sure why since there are other classical violinists that play more than one kind of music all the time, but maybe it’s because I’m so used to the angelic image that Hilary Hahn puts out there whenever we see the classical performances that when I got a load of this, I was stunned. I knew that she’d played this piece on the album Worlds Apart and I even bought a copy of it (this was in 2005, so it was long before I ever became interested in downloading anything), but to see the way she moves here versus the way she moves in a regular fashion, you get the impression that she was possessed by something that combines Paganini with Jimi Hendrix (and it’s his birthday too, so, this is perfect for that as well).  Between all that and this rather dark rocker-chick look with the loose hair and black jeans (and electric violin), it’s a moment in Hilary’s career that continues to provide great bewilderment, fascination and merriment for me, among so many other things she does, so, in a way this is the status quo.

Happy Birthday, Hilary Hahn!

Hilary Hahn Performs Korngold at BYU ~ A Review

Hilary Hahn performing the Korngold Violin Concerto at De Jong Concert Hall at BYU on November 15th, 2012 (Photos courtesy of May Anderton Ryan)

The Utah Symphony and Hilary Hahn
Utah Symphony Orchestra
Thierry Fischer, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violin
de Jong Concert Hall at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Thursday. November 15, 2012

Written by May Anderton Ryan

The arts have found a backdrop in the great American western mountains of Utah. The arts accept the challenge to thrive here in the desert, to capture natural beauty, industriousness, and to create a sense of community. Artists and musicians converge in the Salt Lake Valley to form the Utah Symphony.

I have never heard the Utah Symphony before Thursday night, and I haven’t heard a live, professional orchestra in at least three years. I was having withdrawals.

Last April, when BYU announced that the Utah Symphony would be performing at the de Jong Concert Hall, and when the school mentioned that Hilary Hahn would be a guest artist with the symphony, I knew that I had to go. I knew that I would.

I bought tickets on October 15, the day they went on sale, and my husband sat next to me in the sixth row. He could tell how excited I was to be there. We noticed the diverse crowd: Elderly people who have season tickets to the BYU concert series, college students who know members of the Utah Symphony and/or who Hilary Hahn is, families with little girls who play violin and look up to Hilary Hahn as a role model. Continue reading

Sarah Chang

Photo courtesy of Andrzej Pilarczyk

The one and only Sarah Chang! (I feel that you can only say this with an exclamation point) had time to talk to me. Is my life changing??

The violinist was getting ready to do a concert with the LA Phil, and a very generous member of the orchestra let Sarah borrow her laptop to do this interview on Skype, so, naturally I’m inclined to be more nervous than she is, considering she’s the one about to do a big show, but I was relatively cool throughout.

CM: Before you called in, I was just watching the clip of you at 10 years old playing Paganini’s Concerto #1!

Sarah: Oh, God!

CM: [laughs] Why, you don’t think it was good? It looked great to me! Continue reading

Drop it like it’s hot, Mr. Perlman via If It Ain’t Baroque

Chris McGovern:

Jenn German posts the Ithzak Perlman appearance on Colbert! “Drop it like it’s hot!”

Originally posted on If it ain't Baroque...:

You simply cannot begin to imagine the extent of my supreme joy when Stephen Colbert announced that his guest tonight was Itzhak mothereffin’ Perlman. Or maybe you can – everyone loves Itzhak mothereffin’ Perlman!

EDIT: I very much apologize for my inability to get the embed code to work, but I am SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED about these videos that I’m just going to post the links. Okay? Again, I’m really sorry, but it’s Itzhak mothereffin’ Perlman, people!

You should know that when Colbert said “Drop it like it’s hot” I laughed and clapped a little.

View original

Jennifer Koh ~ On Playing Violin and Einstein

Photo courtesy of Juergen Frank

Violinist Jennifer Koh had some time to talk with me about a few things: her multi-tiered project Bach & Beyond, which is both a compelling series of concerts as well as her upcoming CD. She’s also been performing in this interesting stage production you may have heard something about: Philip Glass’s opera Einstein On The Beach at BAM, where she got to not only play the violin part but also portray Einstein himself. Number one, how often do we see a concert violinist perform in any kind of opera onstage, and how often is it a female violinist portraying a male character?

In any event, look for some interesting projects from Jennifer, including the CD, some West Coast performances of Einstein, and more performances of the Bach & Beyond concerts. Continue reading

Todd Reynolds

Photo courtesy of Kevin Kennefick–KJKPhoto

Well, I am already in great pain from having to pinch myself so much this past week–We have Todd Reynolds on here today!
Yes, that guy that we know from having been a founding member of ETHEL, having been involved with both Steve Reich and Musicians and Bang On a Can, and has a side project with 2 of the BOAC All-Stars called Typical Music, did a duet onstage with Zoe Keating, and has a superb debut album titled Outerborough. That Todd Reynolds!

Todd had a few minutes to speak with me about his appearance at the Rite of Summer Festival on Governors Island on Monday, September 3rd at 1 PM and 3 PM with guests Jonny Rodgers, Jordan Tice and Matthias Kunzli. He had a little extra time for other things too! Continue reading