Leah Hollingsworth travels to New York’s David Geffen Hall on 12 January 2024 for the performance of Coleridge-Taylor, Bach and Bartók 

hilary hahn

Hilary Hahn. Photo: Chris Lee

The passion of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade for orchestra was expertly controlled and shaped by Jakub Hrůša with the New York Philharmonic, its mix of lyricism and rhythmic energy perfectly setting the stage for Hilary Hahn’s account of Prokofiev’s Concerto no.1. The opening Andantino was elegant and refined – Hahn unafraid to play as softly as she liked. Her passagework had vivacity and flair without sacrificing sound quality; double-stops were like a caged animal – wild but contained. The virtuosic Scherzo found Hahn playing even the most difficult, quiet or harsh passages with unparalleled delight. She brought a beautiful simplicity to the opening of the Moderato and the final run sequences appeared effortless as she made her way up and down the fingerboard and across all four strings with grace and poise, ending with tremendous sophistication.

Her solo Bach encore – the Andante from the A minor Sonata – was so captivating that I hardly dared move; the audience was spellbound until the ending of the very last note (which she held with complete control for what seemed like an eternity). Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra rounded out the programme and was fantastically well played by all sections of the orchestra.