Hahn's Muses: Composers Behind the Encores
by Seth Colter Walls | December 2, 2013
Violinist Hilary Hahn has long been a staunch advocate for modern classical composers. (She has recorded concertos by Stravinsky and Schoenberg, for example.) But with her new album, In 27 Pieces, she's gone full-tilt contemporary, by commissioning 27 living composers to write new, encored-sized pieces.
For this playlist, we've selected a few highlights from In 27 Pieces; directly after each Hahn recording, we're giving you another look at the same composer. We begin with Nico Muhly's "Two Voices," written for and played by Hahn, before moving onto Muhly's "Etude 1" (from violist Nadia Sirota's album First Things First).
Some of the composers Hahn has commissioned have huge, storied back catalogs: David Del Tredici's gorgeous, neo-Romantic "Farewell" is miles away from his brawny orchestral essay "Tattoo" (recorded long ago by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic), but it's fun to hear the two works back to back.
There are lesser-known names in the mix, too, and these composers also have a surprising range of approaches. The steadily more aggressive textures of Mason Bates' folky item for Hahn, "Ford's Farm," might lead you to expect the digital glitch-work of his "Amber," for electronics. But even the sharp edges of composer Elliott Sharp's Hahn-encore, "Storm of the Eye," probably won't prepare you for the avant-jazz energy of his own working trio's recording "The Grip." (Another Hahn-commissioned composer has flirted with jazz, too, as you'll hear when Mark-Anthony Turnage teams up with guitarist John Scofield.) As you progress through our mix, you can check in with our composer-credit tracklist below, in order to keep track of who wrote which piece. Enjoy!
Track 1: Nico Muhly, "Two Voices"
Track 2: Muhly, "Etude 1"
Track 3: Mason Bates, "Ford's Farm"
Track 4: Bates, "Interlude: Amber (for electronics)"
Track 5: David Lang, "Light Moving"
Track 6: Lang, "Pierced"
Track 7: Elliott Sharp, "Storm of the Eye"
Track 8: Elliott Sharp Trio, "The Grip"
Track 9: Mark-Anthony Turnage, "Hilary's Hoedown"
Track 10: Turnage (with John Scofield), "Protocol"
Track 11: David Del Tredici, "Farewell"
Tracks 12-13: Del Tredici, "Tattoo," for orchestra
Track 14: Avner Dorman, "Memory Games"
Tracks 15-17: Dorman, Piccolo Concerto
Track 18: Paul Moravec, "Blue Fiddle"
Track 19: Moravec, Tempest Fantasy: V. Fantasia
Track 20: Einojuhani Rautavaara, "Whispering"
Tracks 21-23: Rautavaara, Cantus Arcticus
Track 24: Jennifer Higdon, "Echo Dash"
Tracks 25-27: Higdon, Violin Concerto