Improv, the morning after

After talking to Hilary Hahn for my story on classical musicians and improvisation in last Sunday’s paper, I was excited to attend her performance at the Birchmere with Hauschka, her partner on the new CD ”Silfra,” on Monday night. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the performance, as I wrote in my review.

I’m all for classical musicians embarking on this kind of exploration, and it takes a lot of guts to stand up in front of an audience and fly blind, as she did. Not many stars have managed to make this kind of departure from the traditional repertory a core part of what they do; Yo-Yo Ma is one of the few who comes to mind. (Do you think of others?)

But I didn’t find that this performance did much for me. Improvising can be an exhilerating ad­ven­ture for the musicians themselves, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s great to listen to. I’d be curious to hear from others who were there, or who heard the album, and hear what you did or didn’t like about it.

Anne Midgette came to the Washington Post in 2008, when she consolidated her various cultural interests under the single title of chief classical music critic. She blogs at The Classical Beat.

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