Hilary Hahn Releases Charles Ives: Four Sonatas on October 11, 2011


New York, NY – Hilary Hahn will release her newest album Charles Ives: Four Sonatas on October 11, 2011. Of recording these seldom-performed pieces, Hahn writes, “Their brooding, plotted beauty, their wit, their quicksilver modernity, and the dreams they evoke of a changing time and place, drew us through every hour.” Hahn’s long-time collaborator, pianist Valentina Lisitsa, joins her on the album.

This Deutsche Grammophon disc contains all four of Ives’s sonatas for violin and piano. The First Sonata is relatively conservative: dense but mostly tonal. Packed with quotations from American folk music, the First Sonata in many ways evokes, in Ives’s own words, “the sadness of the old Civil War days.” The Second Sonata is split into three movements, each carrying an affective name: “Autumn”, “In the Barn”, and “The Revival”. This sonata is, as album liner notes written by Robert Kirzinger explain, “in the unusual slow-fast-slow pattern”. Shifting from Adagio maestoso to ragtime fiddle-dance syncopations to Largo, the piece quotes substantially from American hymnal music. The next sonata was completed in 1914. In Ives’s own words, the Third Sonata aims to “express the feeling and fervor – a fervor that was often more vociferous than religious – with which the hymns and revival tunes were sung at the Camp Meetings held extensively in New England in the 70’s and 80’s.” Kinzinger notes that the Third Sonata is “the most individual from a structural standpoint”. The final sonata was originally intended for Ives’s eleven-year-old nephew, and is consequently lighter in mood and smaller in scope than the other three pieces. Kinzinger writes, “As with many old and pleasant memories, this one is slippery, fading, hesitating, and finally stopping altogether, as though we find ourselves drifting off in mid-thought.”

Charles Ives (1874-1954) is considered by many to be the father of American classical music. After the musical guidance and encouragement of his father, a U.S. Army bandleader in the Civil War, Ives began his career while a student at Yale University. After college, he became a successful businessman in the insurance industry but still found time to follow his true passions: composition and musical innovation. His work is characterized by experimentations with structure, harmony, and tone as well as an awareness and fondness for America’s rich musical tradition. Ives’s sonatas in particular engage with and often quote extensively from American folk songs, hymnals, and spirituals. His oeuvre is perhaps most accurately described as both fearlessly avant-garde and nostalgic for a forgotten New England. Throughout his life, Ives was a generous patron and friend to struggling young composers and financially fragile new music projects. He gave large amounts of his own money to support musicians and often paid for the publication of original works. Ives’s compositions were not widely recognized during his lifetime until his work was championed by Aaron Copland and Gustav Mahler, among others. In 1947, at the age of 72, Ives was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Third Symphony, a piece then more than three decades old.

Hilary Hahn begins 2011-2012 opening the Baltimore Symphony season at the orchestra’s gala concert. After her Ives album is released, she will tour the United States playing in Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles among other places to support In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores, a new commissioning project. Following an extensive European tour, Hahn will perform at Avery Fisher Hall with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and later that spring with the Houston, San Francisco and Montreal symphonies.

This year, Hahn begins touring her project In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores. She has commissioned over two dozen composers to write short-form pieces for acoustic violin and piano, which she will perform over the 2011-2013 season. Hahn remains dedicated to recording every new piece she commissions, and her recording of these new works will be completed in 2013. Nearly a decade ago, Hahn began to notice that new encore pieces were not being showcased as much as other forms of contemporary music. Shorter pieces are a crucial part of every violinist’s education and repertoire. Hahn wanted to find a way to revitalize the vibrant tradition of encores, so she built this project from the ground up, listening to the work of hundreds of living composers and calling the composers herself to invite them to participate. 26 composers have written pieces, and the final, 27th composer will be decided in a non-traditional fashion later in the year.

Two-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn has gained international recognition for her probing interpretations, compelling stage presence, and commitment to a wide range of repertoire as well as newly commissioned music. Her extensive tours and dynamic recordings have made her one of the most sought-after artists of this era. Hahn appears regularly with the world’s elite orchestras and on prestigious recital series in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. In the dozen years since she began recording, Hahn has released eleven solo albums on the Deutsche Grammophon and Sony labels, in addition to three live performance DVDs, an Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack, and various compilations. She recently released an album of Tchaikovsky and Higdon concertos; the Higdon concerto, which Hahn commissioned, won the Pulitzer Prize. Known for her vivacious personality, Hahn keeps a collection of her writings at hilaryhahn.com.