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Hilary Hahn Marches Through Mozart

Violinist Hilary Hahn.
Michael Patrick O'Leary
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Courtesy of the artist
Violinist Hilary Hahn.

When you're all grown up, you — at least theoretically — put away childish things. But there are exceptions, as violinist Hilary Hahn proves in her latest recording project.

The album is a pairing of two concertos she's been playing since she was just 10 years old: 19th-century Belgian composer (and violin virtuoso) Henry Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 4 in D minor and Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, nicknamed "Turkish" — a concerto that Mozart wrote when he was just 19 himself. (And how's this for historic continuity? Hahn first studied the Mozart with her beloved teacher at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music, Jascha Brodsky, who in turn studied with the legendary Eugène Ysaÿe, who was himself a student of ... Vieuxtemps.)

Now that Hahn is 35 and has been playing these concertos regularly for a quarter century, she brings both grace and immense force to these performances with conductor Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. There's no better example than the final movement of the Mozart, a rondo that is by turns regal and rollicking. Hahn never gives up her pinpoint precision in the movement's minuet theme. And she brings out real muscle when, in the middle of the movement, Mozart inserts a janissary-influenced section that evokes a Turkish military band and gives the concerto its nickname. The whole album is a pleasure — this is just a little taste.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.