Monday, May 15, 2017

Gil Shaham - Romances


Composer: Various
  1. Elgar - Salut d'amour, Op. 12
  2. Kreisler - Schön Rosmarin (orchestrated by Clark McAlister)
  3. Svendsen - Violin Romance in G major, Op. 26
  4. Kreisler - Liebesfreud (orchestrated by Clark McAlister)
  5. Beethoven - Violin Romance No. 1 in G major, Op. 40
  6. Beethoven - Violin Romance No. 2 in F major, Op. 50
  7. Kreisler - Liebesleid (orchestrated by Clark McAlister)
  8. Tchaikovsky - Sérénade mélancolique in B flat minor, Op. 26
  9. Sarasate - Romanza andaluza Op. 22, No. 1
  10. Dvořák - Romance in F minor, Op. 11

Gil Shaham, violin
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Date: 1996
Label: Deutsche Grammophon



Heard in this context, Gil Shaham emerges as the first among equals. Anyone experienced in the field of violin miniatures on record will know that, more often than not, it's a case of glamorous solo playing versus humdrum orchestral accompaniments (Michael Rabin's Capitol recordings being among the rare exceptions to a well-tested rule). Here, however, the Orpheus match Shaham every step of the way with playing that is as suave, sweet and technically refined as his own.

The Beethoven Romances are superbly realized and Shaham steals the lead on most of his rivals by making them actually sound different from each other, the First being fairly forthright, the Second more a song without words. However, in the case of Dvorák's Romance, I sensed a rather impatient interpretation (fairly up-tempo and with some forceful entries), one that betrays a certain lack of sympathy for the idiom — although, again, the Orpheus step in with some beautifully phrased counter-material. Shaham's tone wears a beguiling smile, rather in the manner of Campoli (and quite unlike the weeping eloquence of, say, Elman or Heifetz). His technique is absolutely secure, his phrasing is crisp and his most effective expressive device is to reduce the body of his tone, a ploy that works very well 437" into Beethoven's Second Romance and in the latter half of Fritz Kreisler's Liebesleid (which, incidentally, is played with the brief but touching introduction that Kreisler himself recorded towards the end of his career in 1942, now available on Biddulph).

I've heard more searching accounts of the Sêrenode mélancolique, and if the remaining works on the programme have responded more readily to the inimitable styles of various older masters, Shaham's performances remain extremely listener-friendly — and they're beautifully recorded. Put them on first thing in the morning, and the effect would be the musical equivalent of 'have a nice day'.

-- Robert Cowan, Gramophone

More reviews:


Gil Shaham (born February 19, 1971 in Urbana, Illinois) is an American violinist of Jewish descent. He studied at  the Aspen Music School in Colorado with Dorothy DeLay and Jens Ellermann. His playing is marked by a warm, flowing tone allied with a strong and comprehensive technique. His seriousness as a musician has made him a favored partner for many of the world's leading conductors, and other instrumentalists have been eager to collaborate with him in chamber music performances. Shaham plays a Stradivarius violin from the "long pattern" period, the "Comtesse de Polignac" of 1699.


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  2. Gil Shaham (Hebrew: גיל שחם) was born in Urbana, Illinois, while his parents, Israeli scientists, were on an academic fellowship at the University of Illinois.The family returned to Jerusalem when Gil was two. At the age of seven, Shaham began taking violin lessons from Samuel Bernstein at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem... Gil Shaham are not only Israeli "Jews". Israeli proud !!

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