On April 6, Boosey & Hawkes will release In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. This new collection consists of specially annotated sheet music by Hilary Hahn for her project of the same name, a series of 27 pieces for violin and piano which Hahn commissioned from 27 different composers.
Published in two volumes—one of violin music (109 pages) and one for piano accompaniment (230 pages)—this new collection will provide everything necessary for an informed performance of the album’s material. Hahn has directly edited the violin parts—which include her bowings, markings, and in-depth style notes—creating a guideline for performers to follow along with or use as a reference point for their own interpretations as they work through the pieces. The pieces themselves serve as a rigorous and demanding exercise in technical skill, artistic sensitivity, and restraint: all qualities befitting an encore.
In addition to the personally annotated music, the violin book contains an introduction, performance notes, and editor’s notes written by Hahn. The book also includes short biographies of Hahn and the composers, as well as program notes written by the composers regarding their own works.
In her editor’s notes, Hahn states, “I have been playing from printed music for over three decades. In compiling this edition, my first as an editor, I drew on both my experience as a consumer of sheet music and my role as commissioner and first performer of these works, to create a volume that I hope is informative, clear, and accurate. This means, to me, following a few basic rules about layout, paying attention to all of the details, and making best efforts to be transparent about what the composer wrote and what I added. This is not an urtext edition, but we have spent hundreds of hours proofreading, consulting with the composers, anticipating questions that might arise for new players of this music, and providing answers to those questions. I really hope that this edition will provide a welcoming point of entry to students, scholars, and other performers of these new works. I want players to feel comfortable exploring these encores, and I know how important the accuracy of an early edition is to the future history of a piece, so I tried to keep everyone in mind when writing my markings and commentary.”
The idea for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores began to take shape when Hahn noticed that new encore pieces were not being showcased as much as other types of contemporary works. Shorter pieces remain a crucial part of every violinist’s education and repertoire, and Hahn believed that potential new favorites should be encouraged and performed as well. The project is notable not just for its breadth of style—including composers of many ages, nationalities, and genres—but for the effort and time Hahn personally invested in discovering these new works and collaborators.
Hahn conceived the project as a gift to future performers—a reinvigoration of the encore repertoire which is forward-thinking and technically demanding, while still being relatively accessible and pleasing to the audience. In publishing this sheet music, Hahn follows through on that promise, making these 27 commissioned pieces available for violinists and pianists of all skill levels to perform or aspire to.
The 26 commissioned composers—whose ages ranged from 32 to 85 at the time of the commissioning—are Antón García Abril, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Lera Auerbach, Richard Barrett, Mason Bates, Tina Davidson, David Del Tredici, Avner Dorman, Du Yun, Søren Nils Eichberg, Christos Hatzis, Jennifer Higdon, James Newton Howard, Bun-Ching Lam, David Lang, Paul Moravec, Nico Muhly, Michiru Oshima, Kala Ramnath, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Max Richter, Somei Satoh, Elliott Sharp, Valentin Silvestrov, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Gillian Whitehead. Jeff Myers was chosen as the final, 27th composer by blind submission.
After premiering the 27 works over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons and recording the encores as a collection for Deutsche Grammophon–for which she won a Grammy® in 2013, Hahn celebrated the release by performing all of the encores at New York’s Greenwich House Music School. Beyond the act of commissioning and performing the pieces, Ross also explains that Hahn’s project expanded the world of new music into more inclusive territory. “New-music events are often insular affairs, betraying the ideological biases of whoever organizes them. Hahn, guided only by her inquisitive ear, has spanned a dizzyingly wide range of styles, from the luminous avant-gardism of Richard Barrett to the autumnal neo-Romanticism of David Del Tredici and the post-minimalist bustle of David Lang. Navigating an ever-changing terrain, Hahn showed a commendable willingness to tackle unusual challenges and a mesmerizing ability to master them.”
This collection comes in a year of major contemporary projects in addition to Hahn’s season focus on Bach’s solo violin music. On February 17, Hahn premiered Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Two Serenades at Radio France’s Présences festival in Paris, performing with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under the direction of music director Mikko Franck. The eponymous serenades—“Sérénade pour mon amour,” for violin and strings, and “Sérénade pour la vie”—stemmed from a conversation between Rautavaara, Hahn, and Franck prior to the composer’s death in 2016. Unbeknownst to the musicians, Rautavaara had begun working on the pieces; Franck discovered the completed “Sérénade pour mon amour,” and the nearly-finished “Sérénade pour la vie,” in the composer’s home on the day of his funeral. “Sérénade pour la vie” was completed with the aid of Kalevi Aho, a protégé of Rautavaara, with orchestration based on Rautavaara’s sketches. Hahn and Rautavaara’s relationship can be traced back to the In 27 Pieces project; she premiered his encore Whispering in 2011. Later this season, Hahn will release a new recording project featuring a series of compositions she commissioned.