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This report is taken from PN Review 192, Volume 36 Number 4, March - April 2010.

Good God How Fine Mark Dow

After twenty-seven-year-old Hilary Hahn performed Mozart’s Third Violin Concerto with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra two winters ago, the reviewer for the Montreal Gazette called her tone creamy. Hahn wore an off-white gown with silver sparklies in it like a child’s drawing of a starry sky in broad daylight. There was also something silvery in her hair. From where we sat, a white kerchief was like a little pillow between her chin and violin. She often looked around at the orchestra as she played, or while she didn’t and they did. The orchestral parts were even and lovely, young Mozart, or say early Mozart, since he was always young, but they were unremarkable. Hahn’s improvised cadenzas were something else entirely. In the first movement, especially, she played mournfully, but it was still play, double stops stopping just this side of dissonance. At times it was as if Hahn’s violin was abbreviating, Cubist-like, the conversation of a string quartet, just the one instrument telling all the parts of what it had to tell itself itself, and tell us, too. Outside, on square surfaces, whether a wide call box of some sort, or the tops of the narrow rails of a gate around the Complexes Desjardins, snow started off square as the surfaces it lay on. As more fell, it piled up columnar until would-be edges and corners were rounded, seeking sphere.

It was during that first movement that I managed with my tongue to extricate a piece of tangy ...


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