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New Classical Tracks: Hilary Hahn memorializes her time in Paris

Hilary Hahn remembers her time in residency in Paris. Dana van Leeuwen
5min : New Classical Tracks: Hilary Hahn
32min 6sec : New Classical Tracks: Hilary Hahn (extended)

Hilary Hahn/The Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio, Director Mikko Franck — Paris (Deutsche Grammophon)

"Paris is a place that I've visited since I was a teenager, and it has this mood to it. It's really an evocative city. Maybe I know too much about the history and I'm just applying it to the city, but I love the feel of the arts in Paris," violinist Hilary Hahn explains why her new album is named after the city. "There's so many beautiful museums. There are all these parks that are just works of art in their own right. As you walk through the city, you're walking through an art installation."

The idea for Paris started back in 2018 during Hahn's artist residency with Mikko Franck and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France.

"I realized that the residency had everything except a recording coming out of it. By that point we knew that we would have the Einojuhani Rautavaara world premiere posthumously. We also were just playing together in a way that felt like magic. We added Sergei Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto and Ernest Chausson to the residency for this recording."

Can you talk about the situation after the passing of Einojuhani Rautavaara that lead to Deux Serenades being included on the album?

"Franck said, 'Well, I don't think this is a good time because of his health. But, if I see him soon and I can talk to him about it, I will.' So I didn't hear anything else. It turned out Franck had talked with him. They discussed the idea of serenades instead of a concerto. The next that we heard, Rautavaara had passed away.

"Then at the funeral, Franck was at the house with Rautavaara's widow, and she showed him this manuscript for two serenades. It was titled in French, which was very unusual for him. Usually, he titled things in English and everything has Finnish titles as well, but it was clearly the piece that he was working on for us.

"It was almost done, and at that point Kalevi Aho finished the piece in the style that Rautavaara would have wished. Aho was a student of Rautavaara's and also a great Finnish composer in his own right.

"You know it's a tribute to life, it's a sort of meditation on love, and looking back at one's life at the end of one's life."

Why does The Poeme by Ernest Chausson take your breath away?

"It's a piece that I can't drive. I have to be free within the piece. I have to be supported by the orchestra and the conductor. But also, they need to have their own interpretation that I work with in my interpretation. Having them take ownership of their work is something that gives me goose bumps."

Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 had its premiere in Paris, which is why it's on this recording. What did you mean when you said that this work is life affirming for you?

"I don't know! [laughs] That's a good question. I don't remember what day I said that, but I love this piece so much. It's really brings you through the entire landscape of what it is to be human. It's like you step on the train and you have this wild journey and then when you arrive, you're like, 'Whoa, what just happened and where am I? That was amazing!'"

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Resources

Hilary Hahn/The Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio, Director Mikko Franck — Paris (Amazon)

Hilary Hahn (Offical site)

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