Hilary Hahn is not regarded as an early music star, by any means, but her recordings of J.S. Bach's violin concertos with Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra are somewhat in the spirit of historically informed performances, and listeners who might have expected more mainstream interpretations may be pleasantly surprised. Some of the expected characteristics of Baroque period practice are here, such as fleet tempos, a small ensemble, bright sonorities, light textures, and an active harpsichord and cello continuo, and the versatility of Kahane and his group goes far to create this period quality. Hahn might have indulged in some free ornamentation and even added some improvised cadenzas, but her straightforward playing is at least clean and unaffected, and she deserves credit for her brilliant technique, which carries these pieces. While her approach to Bach isn't close to Rachel Podger's playing in authentic Baroque style, neither does it approximate the richer, heavier, "old school" style of Yehudi Menuhin, so Hahn may appeal to some listeners as a compromise between competing schools of thought. Deutsche Grammophon's recording puts Hahn in a prominent, central position, so it's easy to stay focused on her solo part in the big sound of this hybrid SACD.
Bach: Concertos Review
by Blair Sanderson