Reviewed on Fri 09 May, 2014
Proof that necessity really is the mother of invention comes in this remarkable recital from violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Cory Smythe. With a hefty touring schedule and finding herself in perpetual need of encores, Hahn set about commissioning new miniatures – the shortest here is 2’01”, the longest 6’01” – from 27 composers. The result is a really rather exhilarating compendium from the likes of Rautavaara, Silvestrov, David Lang, Jennifer Higdon, David Del Tredici, Lera Auerbach, Nico Muhly and Max Richter. If nothing else, it offers plentiful evidence of the vitality and variety of contemporary music. But it also reveals an artist revelling in music that both plays to and challenges her own considerable technique. Hahn, of course, rises splendidly to each and all of the pieces, finding much in them to dazzle and delight, and occasionally to prick and prod. Her musical achievements are matched by the imagination of the concept and the intelligence of its execution. A big, bold idea, brilliantly realised.