As one of the most gifted violinists of her generation, the American-born Hilary Hahn has, at only 30, done almost everything: played with some of the world's best orchestras, performed solo at New York's Carnegie Hall, and won several Grammy Awards. Now, in search of a new challenge, the young musician has turned her hand to a concept album. Hahn is something of a Bach addict, having first heard his compositions for violin and voice at the age of five. Later, she claimed to play his music every day, describing him as "the touchstone that keeps my playing honest". Here, she has enlisted the formidable vocals of her friends and colleagues, Christine Schäfer and Matthias Goerne, to breathe new life into this collection of Bach's cantatas and arias. The result is a rather low-key, almost intimate sound, in which the violin lithely bends and weaves its way through the bass and soprano. Both Schäfer and Goerne are huge stars in the their own right, but it is still Hahn that shines the brightest. As well as being technically brilliant, her playing is utterly instinctive. The downside is that the vocals seem, at times, superfluous, though Schäfer's sound is a better match to Hahn's violin than Goerne's, which rumbles along like well-oiled locomotive.
* Katie Boucher