Dvořák, Ginastera: Violin Concertos
Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy
Hilary Hahn (violin)
Andrés Orozco-Estrada / Frankfurt Radio Symphony (DG)
(scroll down for English review)
It’s good to see a new recording of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto by a leading violinist, if our concert promoters or audience are more receptive to this work, we would have fewer performances of the Mendelssohn concerto, at least. Hahn enhances the tempo fluctuations in it, sometimes realizing some implied ritardardos, sometimes creating tempo changes when none could be found on the score, with the well-intentioned intent to deepen emotions.
But to me, the slowed down sections didn’t always result in a heightened atmosphere. In the third movement Hahn took a slower-than-usual one-in-a-bar pulse, in order to stress the syncopation of Dvořák’s furiant rhythm. I think Hahn overdid it and perhaps missed the point: Dvořák wouldn’t want us to follow the syncopated rhythm which was only his tool to create his music.
I was quite surprised to see Hahn tackled the Ginastera concerto, which I haven’t heard before. Luckily with a score at hand I felt safe to try this concerto, written for Ruggiero Ricci and premiered with Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic, in 1963. While going through the quirky structure I was reminded of Bernstein’s own Symphony No.2 “The Age of Anxiety” which was a crossbred of piano concerto and symphony. The resemblance, to me, was Ginastera’s attempt to create a modern work without resorting to avant garde language nor regressing to the romantic idiom. I really wasn’t impressed, the whole thing sounded too dull, too academic, too arid.
Hahn might have betrayed Ginastera’s ideals by ending this CD with Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy. Perhaps similar to the Dvořák concerto Hahn tried hard not to play like a typical virtuoso and lump the notes to us. She did what she could to deliver a fresh picture but I think some sections really sounded too laboured.