Although Hahn has played the Prokofiev live many times (and I’ve heard her play it twice) this is her first recording of the work. Those live experiences also played into my reluctance to buy the record, as larger venues and more demanding, dynamically dramatic works challenge Hahn’s instrumental voice. Of course, in a recording, that can cease to be a concern and that’s certainly the case here. Not only does the micing place Hahn separate and distinct from the orchestra, the accompaniment is also deft and beautifully measured, testament to the long working relationship between band and soloist. Hahn’s performance is both exquisite and exhilarating, the longer, more lyrical lines of the 1st and 3rd Movements played with a wonderful grace and poise, while the almost brutally aggressive double stopping and borderline dissonance of the 2nd transitions perfectly into the flighty, soaring flutter of the instruments upper register. The work is intensely demanding throughout, the drawn out quiet of the slow passages just as technically difficult as the far more explosive 2nd Movement. Hahn’s playing, with the mics taking the projective strain, is a revelation, while the PRF is a model of easy, fluid yet expressive grace. Hahn’s technique and poise never slip and she seems comfortably on top of the musical demands of the piece. It’s an impressive and musically captivating performance.

Unsurprisingly, the soloist and orchestra also combine perfectly on the melancholic yet romantic Chausson, but I have to say that it is the Rautavaara Serenades that are the icing on this particular cake. The reflective tone, layers and shifting textures of the two pieces are beautifully executed with a real yet controlled emotional intensity. My search for the Violin Concerto starts now – while I see the Symphonies looming on my musical horizon.

Super sound from DGG…

The recording is nicely unobtrusive, a beautifully coherent acoustic enclosing the performance, with the subtle orchestration only getting big and dynamic when necessary: but when it IS necessary, those dynamics ARE big and have an impressively sudden impact. The double 45 format doubtless helps, although I had to return my first example as there was some surface noise and the second disc had a wicked rim ripple. My second sample cured both issues and is quiet and perfectly flat.

One other word of warning: For some reason, lists this album under the title Winds. I have no idea why, but there you go…

This wonderful record continues DGGs hot streak of classical issues. You expect stellar performers from the German label and, more often than not, stellar performances. At present, their recordings are certainly doing their artists sonic justice, while their LP pressings are amongst the best mainstream discs around. The finest of them compete with the best out there and this is one of those. Great artists presented with great sound: Long may it continue!