Friday, June 3, 2016

Hillary Hahn's Encores: 27 New Pieces for Violin and Piano

I've been thinking about listening and playing new music lately, so when I saw Hillary Hahn's CD, In 27 Pieces: The Hillary Hahn Encores, I had to buy it. I was mesmerized. These pieces represent such a wide range of expressive voices from composers of different cultures and backgrounds, each one a tiny jewel.

One of the best parts of the CD is how it introduced me to a wide array of living composers whose music I hadn't heard before. There are too many for me to talk about in a single post, but here are a few of the composers who stood out to me:

1. Christos Hatzis

Hatzis wrote "Coming To" for In 27 Pieces. It's a haunting, ethereal piece of music that I listened to twice the first time I heard it. I loved how it brought out the beautiful tonal colors and purity of Hahn's playing. The music is bewitching and eerie, modern without being harsh. Hatzis describes himself as influenced by his Byzantine Heritage, and something in this music feels almost spiritual, like modern plainchant for the violin. 

2.  Kala Ramnath

Ramnath is an Indian classical violinist who has incorporated aspects of Western classical music and other genres into her work. Her piece, "Aalap and Tarana," reflects her background in Hindustani music, with sliding glissandos and Indian tonalities. What I loved about this piece was its gentle, loving expression. Hahn never overplays the music, but lets it unfold into a beautiful moment. I'd love to get the score for this once it becomes available--I have many students interested in Indian classical violin, and this piece feels like it would be a great bridge between Western and Eastern music.

3. Lera Auerbach

Auberbach's piece "Speak, Memory," had the wistful elegance of a bygone era. One of the more "traditional" sounding pieces on the CD, it had gorgeous melodies well-suited to Hahn's rich, lovely tone. Auerbach herself has a fascinating life story, and I'm eager to listen to her other music, which includes several operas, a ballet based on the story of the Little Mermaid, and a wide variety of chamber music. 

When I'm looking for new authors to read, one of the things I like to do is read anthologies of short stories. They give me a sense of different author's voices and styles of writing, then I can look up my favorite writers from the anthology to see if they have any novels I can read as well. Hahn's In Twenty Seven Pieces is an anthology of music, one that gives the listener a chance to hear short pieces by a wide variety of composers. I'd encourage anyone interested in new music to give it a listen. You might discover a composer whose works speak to you, the way some of them spoke to me. 


  1. Sounds like a nice collection of work. She's also gorgeous as well as talented. Have you ever considered joining the A to Z Challenge in April? I know it's already past April, but it's a fun blog hop and a way to get more comments. Aloha from Maui! Courtney - Maui Jungalow blow.