HAHN & HAUSCHKA: Silfra.
HilaryHahn (violin); Volker Bertelmann (Hauschka) (prepared piano).
DGG B0016798-02 TT: 52:02.
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So glad when it stopped. I admire Hilary Hahn -- her tone, her lyricism, her intellectual curiosity. I've raved about just about everything I've heard. If anybody deserves a label's indulgence, it's her. However, this CD simply fails.

It contains twelve improvisations, each created by layering tracks. Classical performers, at least non-organists, have little experience improvising. Hahn and Bertelmann recognized this and "rehearsed" for a while before going into the studio. Apparently, they didn't take enough time. Most tracks sound like one another. Most rely on long pedal points (resulting in non-changing harmony) and modal lines, and not one of them goes anywhere with any purpose. I used to do something similar when I started improvising in junior high. If you're a fan of New Age music (I'm not), you might like it.

You realize exactly how short it falls when you listen to capable jazz. I would trade the entire disc for one solo by Ray Nance.

Nevertheless, I hope Hahn's either got this out of her system or makes a stronger commitment before she tries again. In that case, it wouldn't hurt her to study the great jazz improvisers.

I don't begrudge Hahn her fling, since it shows her trying to flex her musical muscles in new ways. If label executives can't let an artist of her caliber try something out, they're in the wrong business.

S.G.S. (December 2013)