Hahn offers interpretation of Elgar's soulful concerto

Critic's choice: Classical music

June 18, 2000|By Tim Smith

"Aqui esta encerrada el alma de ... "

This tantalizing inscription in Spanish was written by Sir Edward Elgar on the score of his Violin Concerto in 1910. When asked by a friend to translate and explain it, he responded: "Here, or more emphatically 'in here,' is enshrined or simply enclosed -- 'buried' is perhaps too definite -- the soul of? The final 'de' leaves it indefinite as to sex or rather gender." He might as well just have said, "That's for me to know and for you to find out."

Several candidates have been proposed as being the source of the enshrined or enclosed soul, all of them female. Whoever it was, and whatever Elgar was up to, the end result is one of the most romantic -- in the fullest sense of the word -- concertos in the repertoire. It was championed by Fritz Kreisler, who asked the composer to write it, and a favorite of Yehudi Menuhin, who famously recorded it with Elgar.

This week, one of Baltimore's favorite musicians, Hilary Hahn, will offer her interpretation of the work in a concert with the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jed Gaylin. Hahn was in town recently to play another richly romantic violin concerto, the one by Brahms, in memorable performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Rounding out the Hopkins Symphony program will be Elgar's "Enigma" Variations.

The performance is at 8 p.m. Thursday at Shriver Hall, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore. Tickets are $12. Call 410-516-6542.

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