Hahn & Enigma Variations

She’s only 32 years old, but she’s been performing professionally for 20 years. Violinist Hilary Hahn, who joins the Houston Symphony for Hahn & Enigma Variations over a four-day run this weekend, was just 12 when she made her major orchestral debut, 16 when she signed a recording contract and 17 when she made her Carnegie Hall debut. It was a precocious start to what, so far, can only be described as a brilliant career.

On this week’s program is Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1; the piece has a special meaning to Hahn. As a young man, her teacher Jascha Brodsky had performed the then-new concerto in a competition and subsequently met Prokofiev. ''I really, really love this piece,'' Hahn told us. ''It’s a nice reminder of how things connect through the generations.'' The concerto has several sudden swings in mood. ''There’s lots of lyricism, lots of delicate details. It has these ethereal moments and then these wild, really brash moments, and then back,'' says Hahn. ''It’s fun to play because it stops all of a sudden. Not the sound, but the momentum. My heartbeat goes up, and then I have to play something soft right after that and I’m thinking, 'Okay, control the right arm, control the right arm,''' she laughs.

The rest of the program includes Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes by Britten, and Sospiri and Enigma Variations, both by Elgar. Two of the performances are part of the ACCESS Series, which is a shorter program with no intermission that’s hosted by NPR music commentator Miles Hoffman. 8 p.m. Thursday. Sugar Land Baptist Church, 16755 Southwest Freeway. 7 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713‑224‑7575 or visit www.houstonsymphony.org. $20 to $116.
March 29-April 1, 2012

 
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