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Hilary Hahn, 'Serenade for Life'

As we near the year's end, #NowPlaying recommends songs that slipped through the cracks, but remain in our headphones.

The buzz about Hilary Hahn's beauty of tone and beyond-her-years maturity was already swirling when I first saw her perform as an 18-year-old in 1998. Since then, the three-time Grammy-winning violinist has grown into a searching artist with a nose for new music and devotion to the classics. The splendor of her sound has only deepened, and dozens of today's best composers have taken note, writing pieces for Hahn, including this posthumous surprise from the Finnish master Einojuhani Rautavaara. After he died in 2016, a pair of serenades for violin and orchestra were discovered – a commission Hahn had asked for years earlier and thought she'd never see. The second of the two is titled "Serenade for Life." The Radio France Philharmonic provides a subtly colored, gentle rippling pulse over which Hahn's violin sings, as if on a river which grows into white water only to fall off abruptly like a waterfall.

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Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.