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Hilary Hahn is one of the most innovative and interesting artists of our time. The three-time GRAMMY award winner is returning to Deutsche Grammophon with her long-awaited new album and pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of a city that has been close to her heart throughout her career. “Paris,” says Hahn, “is about expression, it’s about emotion, it’s about feeling connected to a city and a cultural intersection, in a way that’s inspiring for the player and the listener. It has Parisian threads all the way through it. But it’s also a big reference to the arc of my career.”
The initial idea for recording Paris grew from Hahn’s term as artist-in-residence with the OPRF across the 2018-19 season. Following a 2014 performance of Rautavaara’s Violin Concerto with Mikko Franck, she asked the conductor whether his friend and fellow-countryman might consider writing a second concerto. Franck and Rautavaara discussed the idea of a set of serenades, but it looked as if its realization would be prevented by Rautavaara’s ill health. His death at the age of 87 in July 2016 appeared to settle the matter. Franck was shocked, however, when Rautavaara’s widow showed him the near-complete manuscript of a wonderful, elegiac composition for violin and orchestra.
“Mikko realized immediately that this was our piece,” recalls Hahn. The OPRF commissioned prominent Finnish composer Kalevi Aho, who had studied with Rautavaara, to complete the orchestration. “Our recording is from the February 2019 world premiere, which closed out Rautavaara’s catalogue in an emotional and poignant historical performance.”
When choosing works to join Rautavaara’s Deux Sérénades on this album, the violinist decided on two pieces rooted in the history of music-making in Paris. It includes Ernest Chausson’s Poème and Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.1, which received its first performance in the French capital in 1923.
“These pieces together represent a living history of artistic culture. Everything in this recording is a labor of love, for the love of music and for the love of expression.” –Hilary Hahn