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99.5CRB goes 'Out of the Box' to 'Paris' with Hilary Hahn

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Interview with CRB's Chris Voss

99.5CRB's CHRIS VOSS writes......Hilary Hahn's newest album Paris might just as easily have been called "Love and Life", after the movement titles of the star piece on the album, Einojuhani Rautavaara's Two Serenades for Violin and Orchestra. The Virginia-born violinist talks candidly about her newest release, a beautiful reflection of love and life, and of music old and new.  

"If you think about the composer writing this through an illness, very aware that this would be his final work, it's all so poignant… that Rautavaara would symbolically end his repertoire on a serenade for life, [especially] since that was the one that was incomplete." - Hilary Hahn

Not that Paris isn't the focal point of the album. It was, after all, recorded with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom Hahn has a long-standing relationship, performing with the organization pretty much exclusively when she is in Paris. And the works that join the Rautavaara serenades on Paris – Ernest Chausson's Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 25, and Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 19 – have deep connections to the city. As does Hilary Hahn herself, who has been performing in the city since she was thirteen, taking part in a festival as young prodigy studying at Curtis Institute of Music.

But the Rautavaara steals the show. Not only is it a stunningly beautiful work to listen to, but it comes with a poignant, breathtaking story.

In our conversation, we talk about that story, and about how the titles of the two serenades – "Love" and "Life" – are an unambiguous reflection on a life dedicated to music.

Also in the interview, we discuss Hahn's sabbatical from the concert world, which (perhaps fortuitously) she undertook just a few short months before the pandemic forced concert halls around to world to close indefinitely. We also discuss the impact she hopes to have with her "100 Days of Practice" campaign, in which she shares her journey back to a full performance schedule on social media. And, in one of my favorite parts of the interview, we talk about her work with the Boston-based photograher OJ Slaughter, whom Hilary Hahn sought out for the album's incredible cover art. 

Listen to 99.5CRB: Boston's Chris Voss's conversation with HH