Notes and Editorial Reviews
A moving performance, in which Shaham somehow creates a wider range of emotions by keeping just that little bit more in reserve.
...Shaham somehow creates a wider scale and range of emotions by keeping, or giving the impression of keeping just that little bit more in reserve. He also lifts the orchestra where the score demands, rather than constantly rising above it, so that the performance becomes more of an organic whole, rather than something of a battle ground. Don’t get me wrong, the Kennedy/Tate combination is very good, and very exciting, but it doesn’t ‘get me’ in the same way, I’m impressed, but not so moved.
-- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International
Gil Shaham, still in
his teens, made this his first concerto recording in the summer and autumn of 1988, when he had shed the mantle of being a child prodigy. Born in Illinois in 1971, he was taken as a seven-year-old to live in Israel, studying there so successfully that he was asked to play for such artists as Isaac Stern, Nathan Milstein and Henryk Szeryng. He returned to the United States for more study in 1980, and since then his musical education and performing have been mainly divided between those two centres, though his concert career has now expanded to include Europe and Japan as well.
His is a formidable talent. This latest version of a much-duplicated coupling fully confirms the promise contained in the 1986 recital—also issued this month, and reviewed on page 1636—even if it would not be my first choice among the versions I have listed, all of them from young violinists.
It is in the Bruch, recorded four months after the Mendelssohn, that Shaham more clearly gives the illusion of live communication, where I suspect the Mendelssohn sessions found him, for all his assurance, a degree self-conscious, not relaxing quite as much. The first movement of the Bruch is superbly done. The opening meditation before the main Allegro moderato is darkly intense, leading to a clean-cut commanding account of the heavily double-stopped first subject, which then relaxes sweetly and persuasively for the second theme, avoiding too heavy a vibrato. There is a commendable degree of restraint too in the slow movement, where Shaham adopts a speed marginally more flowing than on the rival versions. Sinopoli proves a warmly committed partner, not least in the finale, where he brings out the weight of the Philharmonia ensemble in the tuttis, well-matched by the soloist.
Shaham plays with similarly clean confidence in the Mendelssohn, at times missing the vein of fantasy that Kennedy (EMI) and Mutter (DG) found, and in the finale sounding a little earnest, failing to find the fun in the writing, as Kennedy does in his swaggeringly exuberant reading. Yet I prefer Shaham to Mutter here, who at a slower speed is a little staid, and he is second to none in the clarity of his playing, the sharpness of articulation, and unlike Bell (Decca), whose violin is balanced too close, the spotlighting of the DG recording on the soloist is not excessive.
-- Gramophone [3/1990]
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Gil Shaham (Violin)
Written: 1844; Germany
Be the first to review this title