ALBUM REVIEW: Hilary Hahn & Hauschka “Silfra”

Acclaimed German prepared-pianist Volker Bertelmann (better known professionally as Hauschka) first met Grammy Award winning American violinist Hilary Hahn through the celebrated American singer/songwriter Tom Brousseau back in 2009, but a recorded professional collaboration has taken its time to reach fruition. However, some three years later, Hahn and Hauschka have finally unleashed the truly incredible “Silfra. Far from being just another piano meets violin record, Hahn and Hauschka have managed to collaborate without impeding on their own instrumental experimentation.

The resulting improvised twelve track LP is cohesive effort created under the guidance of Björk’s producer Valgeir Sigurõsson. Journeying through a mixture of emotions, the clarity of the melodies reflects Hauschka’s earlier improvisations, notably “Morgenrot”, which charts a colourful journey through its emotional peaks and troughs. Within three short numbers, Hahn and Hauschka have introduced their listener to their diverse combined approach.

For her part, Hahn, who has been celebrated for her exploration of lesser known compositions-from Schoenberg’s concertos to Ives’ sonatas-fully embraces the improvised form, often leaning towards a  tender contrast to Hauschka’s heavier piano. Yet for all his clunks and tumbles, it is the scratches in Hahn’s otherwise songbird styled violin that make the emotional impact.

“Silfra” is both soothing and alarming, with the record undergoing a fill spectrum of emotions. Engaging and entertaining, Hahn and Hauschka make a strong case with “Silfra” for the collaboration to continue. Though the meeting offers echoes of their earlier outings, their combined presence is powerful enough to leave its own mark.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams


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