Artistry far beyond her years


August 01, 2002|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When a regional orchestra such as the Annapolis Symphony entertains visiting soloists, chances are they will be gifted young artists ascending the ranks of their profession.

There have been exceptions, however, and this year will be one of them.

When the local orchestra opens its 42nd season this month, Maestro Leslie B. Dunner and his players will be playing host to none other than Hilary Hahn, a 22-year-old violinist who has carved out a niche for herself at the highest level in this golden age of violin playing.

Hahn will perform at Maryland Hall on Aug. 27 for the ASO's Gala Season Opener. She will play two concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach, works she is about to record.

Joining Hahn for the Bach D minor Concerto for Two Violins will be Margaret Batjer, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, who appeared with the ASO in 1993, when she fiddled a stylish Dvorak Concerto under the baton of Gisele Ben-Dor.

Born in Virginia and raised in Baltimore, Hilary Hahn was admitted to Philadelphia's Curtis Institute at age 10. She spent seven years there under the tutelage of the legendary teacher Jascha Brodsky, until his death at age 89.

At 11, Hahn debuted with David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony, the musical team with whom she forged a special relationship and soon recorded the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Leonard Bernstein's Serenade for Sony Classical.

What is stunning about this young virtuoso, who also has marvelous recordings of Bach, Stravinsky, Brahms and Samuel Barber to her credit, is the artistic maturity that informs her eye-popping technique. Though she completed the studio violin portion of her studies at Curtis years ago, Hahn has stayed on to take courses in literature and language, and to coach with additional members of the Philadelphia school's all-world faculty.

She also has maintained associations with Vermont's Marlboro Chamber Festival and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

She distinguishes herself from an expanding roster of young, flashy, hot-fingered fiddlers as a musician of enormous depth who just happens to be a virtuoso of the violin.

Concert tickets for the ASO Gala Opener, which is not a part of the orchestra's regular subscription package, are on sale for $50, $40 and $30. Prime orchestra tickets, which include a champagne reception with the artists, are available for $75. Call 410-263-0709 for reservations.

With Hahn's Baltimore connection setting the tone, ASO subscribers will be able to take proprietary interest in several other Maryland artists who will be appearing with the orchestra this season.

Pianist Brian Ganz of Crownsville, one of our area's most popular performers, will appear at Maryland Hall in November for Chopin's 1st Piano Concerto.

Columbia's Kishna Davis, the dramatic soprano whose extraordinary singing helped make Dunner's Annapolis debut so memorable four years ago, will return in February for an evening of Copland plus Andre Previn's languid song-cycle Honey and Rue. At the January concerts, ASO principal horn Steven Barzal and principal trombone David Perkel will take center stage in works by Mozart and the late Alan Hovhaness.

More exotic visitors to the orchestra will include the Chinese violinist Liang Chai, top-prize winner at the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition, who will play the Tchaikovsky Concerto in May.

Arthur Post, who has held positions with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Israel Philharmonic, will be guest conductor of the music of Dukas, Chopin and Franck in November.

Lovers of the classic symphonic repertoire have plenty to look forward to. Extensive excerpts from Prokofieff's supercharged ballet score are on tap for next month. Cesar Franck's densely packed D minor Symphony concludes the November concerts, and the gilded romanticism of Robert Schumann's C-major Symphony anchors the proceedings in January.

The season will conclude in the spring with Maurice Ravel's wildly colorful orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition, one of the great sonic blockbusters.

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