Easy on the Ears, Easy on the Eyes
While we’re discussing classical music and objective beauty, it is perhaps time to address the phenomenon of the “babe violinist”. No, I’m not talking about some kind of Vanessa Mae type with an electric violin and a wet t-shirt. I’m talking about women with real God-given gifts, musical and otherwise.
My own personal favorite is Hilary Hahn, here playing Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkonig:
This is a perfect show-off piece, which allows you to hear just how good Ms. Hahn is. Her albums with Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending and her various Bach performances are all worth hearing.
Lara St. John took the babe violinist genre to new heights back in 1996 when she appeared on the cover of her album Bach Works for Solo Violin apparently wearing nothing other than than her violin. Though the classical genre was not necessarily staid anymore by ’96, this raised a few eyebrows to say the least. (And the album proceeded to sell briskly.) Ms. St. John complained that some people failed to take her seriously as a result. If so, it’s too bad. Whatever your thoughts on her fashion sense, Ms. St. John is a very good violinist. She has three Bach albums you can listen to for free in hi def on MagnaTune, and her she’s seen playing a piece by modern composer Ilan Rechtman from her new album Gypsy.
A collection of babe violinists would not be complete without Akiko Suwanai, here playing one of Bartok’s Rumanian Dances:
Also worthy of mention, Anne-Sophie Mutter, here playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major:
Vivaldi has always been one of my favorite composers, and babe violinist Julia Fischer has a set of four music-video-ish treatments of Vivaldi’s four seasons. Here’s Summer:
I don’t know if everyone would rate her as “babe” violinist, but Sarah Chang is one of the absolute best female violinists out there right now, and her performance of Vitali’s Chaconne is one of my personal favorite recordings:
The album it’s available on is called Sweet Sorrow, and is very much worth having.