Last month, Hilary Hahn returned to Carnegie Hall as part of the Minnesota Orchestra’s all-Sibelius program. Minnesota music director Osmo Vänskä conducted the First and Third symphonies and collaborated with Hahn in the Violin Concerto, in which her “lean, focused sound was a perfect fit for this orchestra and this repertory, poised between rawness and refinement,” according to The New York Times. The Sibelius has played an active role in Hahn’s repertoire for years. Her 2007 recording of the Schoenberg and Sibelius concerti, with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, spent 23 weeks on the Billboard Classical Chart and also earned Hahn her second Grammy: the 2009 Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra.
Hahn now embarks on a recital tour of America, Europe, and Japan. The Vienna Konzerthaus is hosting Hahn as Artist-in-Residence this season. In that capacity, within a 14-month span, she gives a recital; performs with the Vienna Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Camerata Salzburg; and pilots such experimental performance initiatives within the community as playing during a knitting circle, giving a surprise performance at a parent-and-baby tour of a museum, and accompanying a community dance workshop.
In recital with pianist Cory Smythe, Hahn will present Mozart's Violin Sonata in G major, K. 379, Bach's solo Violin Sonata No. 3, Copland's Sonata for Violin and Piano, Davidson's “Blue Curve of the Earth” (from Hahn’s In 27 Pieces), and the world premieres of three new solo violin partitas by Antón García Abril. These partitas constitute half of a set of six written by García Abril for Hahn; the remaining three will receive their worldwide premieres during Hahn’s recital tours next season. The relationship with García Abril was forged during In 27 Pieces. Hahn explains, “Rather than compose just one encore as I had requested, Mr. García Abril kindly provided me with three great choices (“Three Sighs”) and suggested that I pick one. Though 'Third Sigh' dovetailed better with the project, 'Second Sigh' showed a remarkable gift for beautiful, inventive polyphonic violin writing. I knew that Mr. García Abril would be able to make an additional significant contribution to the solo violin literature. Every time I saw him, I felt compelled to ask him to write a set of six polyphonic sonatas or partitas for solo violin. One day, he showed up with a complete draft of all six works.” The commission was sponsored through Washington Performing Arts by Gary and Tina Mather.
García Abril writes, “I have had the great fortune of working with Hilary directly, going through each partita meticulously. Her generosity and interest in the music makes it sublime, unique, and powerful, not only artistically but also intellectually.” As six pieces for solo violin, this commission references a rare but storied structure, most famously illustrated by Bach’s six sonatas and partitas, Ernst's six polyphonic studies, and Ysaÿe's six sonatas. This is Hahn’s first commissioning project for solo violin, as well as her first commission of a set of works from a single composer. Throughout her career, she has made a point of commissioning new works, including Jennifer Higdon's Pulitzer Prize-winning concerto, Edgar Meyer's concerto, and the 27 encores.
In addition to premiering and recording In 27 Pieces, Hahn has collaborated with music publishers Musicnotes and Boosey & Hawkes to create digital and physical editions, respectively, of the complete sheet music. It is a crucial part of Hahn's design for the project that the music be available to other violinists and become part of the repertoire. These editions, to be released in Fall 2016, mark Hahn’s first editorial work and will include her fingerings, bowings, and performance notes.