Bach - Violin and Voice
Hilary Hahn; Matthias Goerne; Christine Schafer; Münchener Kammerorchester; Alexander Liebreich
Deutsche Grammophon 477 8092
The twelve arias on this disc have been selected by violinist Hilary Hahn because they all feature a prominent part for solo violin. She has searched through Bach’s cantatas, the St. Mathew Passion and the B- Mass to put together a lovely, surprisingly well-balanced program.
But the concept behind this disc, evident right from the title, “Violin and Voice”, overplays the role of the obbligato violin in these arias. It’s not the leader here – its job is to comment on what the singers are singing. Fortunately, Hahn proves to be a sensitive ensemble player. Responding to the singers and never intruding on the vocal lines, she lightens her sound, restricts her vibrato, and sharpens the edges of her phrases.
The Münchener Kammerorchester under Alexander Liebreich offers buoyant support. But the key to the success of this venture lies in the heartfelt, dramatic singing. Baritone Matthias Goerne’s yearning intensity in “Welt, ade”, with soprano Christine Schäfer singing the chorale part, is matched by Hahn’s expressive obbligato. Schäfer is equally affecting, with an engaging honesty that illuminates these mostly religious texts. Her poignant “Erbarme dich”, given here in Mendelssohn’s transposition, blends exquisitely with Hahn’s lyrical, stylish playing.
The highlight for me is the impassioned performance by Goerne and Schäfer of the duet “Wann kommst du, mein heil?”, with Hahn providing beguiling elaborations on the operatic dialogue between Jesus and a soul longing to join him.