Gil Shaham partners for this recording with Brooklyn-based The Knights, conducted by Eric Jacobsen, musicians with whom he feels fortunate to collaborate with on a regular basis. The Knights believe that having an enormous amount of fun is the best way of accomplishing serious musical work, so it’s only natural that the World’s happiest orchestra teams up with the world’s happiest violinist!
Brothers and Knights Artistic Directors Colin and Eric Jacobsen are in the business of disseminating musical pleasure, add Gil Shaham to the mix, and musical utopia beckons!
This is Gil Shaham’s first solo release in almost 5 years, and his first recording of the Beethoven violin concerto, arguably the most anticipated addition to his recorded oeuvre. Shaham was captivated growing up listening to David Oistrakh’s recording of the Beethoven over and over again; and it continues to inspire awe in him. Despite the 1000’s of times he played the Beethoven live in concert, the whole emotional journey is as fresh here on this recording as if he was playing it for the first time. In his own words “If there is ever music which changes and effects the soul, this is it.”
The Brahms concerto was one of the last recordings Shaham made as a DG artist, a much lauded live performance with Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. This recording is all together a different affair, bringing together an artistic approach and partnership bordering on the intimacy in chamber music making —watching, listening, responding— but a much larger-scale masterpiece. Shaham’s swift tempo in the first movement of the Brahms, facilitates the wildest flight of virtuoso deftness, the Boston Musical Intelligencer observing in a performance of the Brahms at Tanglewood in 2019, days before this recording took place, that Shaham ‘exercised sovereign command in both the virtuosic and the lyrical passages, sort of going back and forth between being a gymnast and a gentleman, with cleanly focused, gleaming tone.”
This is Gil Shaham’s second recording with The Knights, the first in 2016 resulted in the Grammy nominated recording of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (CC-16), part of Shaham’s 1930s Violin Concertos project.
Booklet annotations are penned by the celebrated author and academic Styra Avins who sheds an interesting perspective the role Beethoven and his Violin Concerto played in Brahms composing his only concerto for the instrument and the vital role Joseph Joachim played in both concertos.