Dusted Reviews

Hilary Hahn & Hauschka - Silfra

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Hilary Hahn & Hauschka

Album: Silfra

Label: Deutsche Grammaphon

Review date: Aug. 7, 2012

I was prepared for this to be terrible. After all, these things never do work out. Make no mistake, Silfra isn’t the brave new world it’s been lauded to be. It’s not even good, really. But for what I was expecting — and, fair enough, what I had read about this one — I don’t exactly hate it. Of the 12 cheeky miniatures here, only a thimbleful dare break the three-minute-mark. In fact, only one (the buggery of, what else could take so long, “Godot”) times in at double digits. If anything, none of these would-be aphorisms sticks around long enough to be anything more than moderately cloying. And for a free sonata matching Hilary Hahn’s four-string histrionics to the clingy klangfarben of Volker Bertelmann (a.k.a. Hauschka), such blasé results might be this disc’s only strength.

To be fair, I never carried any torches for Ms. Hahn — not even in her teens. It wasn’t because she wasn’t talented. No, prodigies are overworked, under-socialized mimes who, because of their handlers, rarely add anything of worth to the standard rep’s discourse. (There’s a reason why 13-year-olds play Bach, Beethoven and Brahms instead of Barber, Babbitt or Bielawa.) Of course, now that Hahn’s turned 30, she’s finally freed: free to leave Sony BMG, free to record concerti by Schoenberg and Jennifer Higdon, free to commission her own encores, free to scratch along, unrehearsed, with Hauschka’s prepared piano.

It turns out, however, Hilary Hahn’s not yet ready for free improv. On a tune like “Bounce Bounce,” as kinetic and angular as it is, it’s Bertelmann that has to tell her how high. Ibid, perhaps more so, for the ballad “Kraków”; the non-dialogue here is so generic, it might as well be a film cue. “Draw A Map,” by far the most promising ditty on the record, ends up going nowhere. I’d argue that Hahn still needs an urtext score to truly play, but again, these tracks are just too short to support any kind of grander assessment.

Sure, brevity may indeed own wit’s soul. But Hahn & Hauschka ain’t playing Webern, much less exploring Stockhausen’s momente-form. (Hell, it’s not even Tom DeLio they’re after.) In the end, then, what do we have here? Other than some inoffensive feignings at trying something new, there’s not too much else to be heard. Honestly, I can’t blame Bertelmann, per se. Save for a few moments where he’s clearly holding back, he makes the most with the partner he’s chosen. Alas, I cannot say the same for Hahn. When it comes to picking running mates outside her concert constituency, she’s better off sticking with those that vote verse-chorus-verse.

By Logan K. Young

Read More

View all articles by Logan K. Young

Find out more about Deutsche Grammaphon

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.