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Beethoven, Brahms: Violin Concertos

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released March 12, 2021 | Canary Classics

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“It was a lot of D major – and not much else on the programme”. So said Brahms of the 1879 premiere of his Violin Concerto in D Major, after his friend and the concerto's dedicatee Joseph Joachim insisted on opening the concert with Beethoven's Violin Concerto of 1806, also in D Major. Fast forward to Gil Shaham's pairing of them in this second recording with The Knights under Eric Jacobsen (who are a welcome sight on any billing), and with performances such as these there's no danger of feeling remotely over-saturated by D Major or anything else. In fact I'm not sure when a recording of either of these two warhorses hit so many of the right buttons in one fell swoop. Add the fact that Shaham is, I believe, the first major violinist to even dare to pair them back to back on the same programme (Milstein's 1953/4/5 readings of the two with Steinberg and the Pittsburgh were paired for EMI's “Great Recordings of the Century series”, but were originally released separately), and there's even some programming gold for period authenticity fans. It is of course the Beethoven which comes first, taken at a relatively brisk set of tempi and yet never with the sense of feeling hurried. Warm, sweet-toned Shaham nails his colours to the mast from his opening bounds, where his personality-rich combination of sprightly greyhound speed and subtle rubato is almost Szell-like; and from here it's a story of silkily singing freedom of line, playful rubato, and the odd carefully placed playful portamento and bounce. The tone, phrasing and overall architecture of his first movement cadenza (interestingly the Kreisler crowd favourite rather than the Joachim) is to die for. His Rondo (featuring what sounds, reviewing without access to the sleeve notes, like Shaham's own cadenza in the optional first slot, in addition to the Kreisler for the main one later) opening is especially striking for the way he's playing two contrasting characters off against each other, the first low-register thematic statement coming darkly husky, then its upper-register repeat super-sweet and light and noticeably dropping from piano to pianissimo. From The Knights meanwhile it's a nimbly buoyant, always elegant Classical sound, flowing constantly forwards (except for their own deliciously teasing rubato hesitations), Jacobsen cruising everyone smoothly through the first movement's transitions, and always with the impression that they're bouncing off Shaham. Also each other, such as the woodwind passings in the Rondo. That awareness of each other is even more noticeable across the Brahms. Also immediately striking is its first movement's unusual pace, because at 19'25” it's a good three minutes faster than the average, and some listeners will find Shaham's semiquaver sextuplets rather uncomfortably fast. Sill, it's hard not to be ultimately won over by his delectable tone (glowing up top, smouldering down below), the degree to which he and the orchestra are engaging with each other as if this were chamber music, and the sheer passion shining out from every ardently rendered phrase; and speaking of ardency, their not-so-adagio Adagio (7'38”, compared to Isabelle Faust's 8'50” and Hilary Hahn's 9'31”) is straightforwardly ravishingly rapturous. Plus, funnily enough, while their final Allegro giocoso is the one they take at a more at standard tempo, it's also an unusually flowing one, when so often this movement can sound disappointingly lumbering. Here, by contrast, it has a beautifully natural, long-lined singing quality to its merriness, making for a zinging end to one of the most exciting – revisionary in its thinking, in fact – core repertoire concerto recordings to hit this critic's ears in quite a while. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Mozart: Piano Sonatas, K. 281, K. 333, K. 570, Vol. 1

Orli Shaham

Classical - Released October 30, 2020 | Canary Classics

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Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 13 in B-Flat Major, K. 333

Orli Shaham

Classical - Released October 23, 2020 | Canary Classics

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Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B-Flat Major, K.281

Orli Shaham

Classical - Released October 16, 2020 | Canary Classics

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Mozart’s singing line and its translation to the piano has served as Orli Shaham’s constant guide in her interpretations of Mozart. While analysis of, harmony, rhythm, and phrasing have played an important part, Orli Shaham is adamant that the vocal nature of each sonata is paramount. K.333 starts out as would Mozart’s operas, as a single melodic idea as Orli Shaham says, “Mozart taught the keyboard to sing”. The B-flat sonatas stand individually as emblems of Mozart’s inventive brilliance, three distinct universes, albeit all formed from the same raw materials. The artistic genius in Mozart is that he leaves the performer to capture the mood in the music, and this Orli Shaham does with aplomb, the studio environment for this recording encouraging her to experiment and “go all out” with ornamentation, adding or subtracting trills and grace notes with successive takes. © Canary Classics
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Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 17, K. 453 & No. 24, K. 491

Orli Shaham

Classical - Released August 23, 2019 | Canary Classics

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Although often overshadowed by her brother Gil, with whom she has made several recordings, Orli Shaham is pursuing a magnificent career on the piano. Shaham is continuing to keep it in the family with this new album, which takes on two of Mozart's concertos, which she has chosen to record with her husband, David Robertson conducting. Robertson is the conductor of the Saint Louis Chamber Orchestra.Orli Shaham's particular affinity for Mozart was already demonstrated in the recording of sonatas for violin and piano, which she made with her brother: it is confirmed here in this music's rounded, sensual sound and its expressive musicality. It soars into a luminous hedonism in the Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453, with a splendid Andante which is marked by an irresistible melancholy. In Shaham's hands, the torments of the Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 are softened: they belong to the 18th Century, and do not announce the romanticism imagined by the many performers who see (often correctly) this work as containing a miraculous expressive force which bursts the bounds of its era. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Dorman: Letters from Gettysburg

The Gettysburg College Choir

Classical - Released June 7, 2019 | Canary Classics

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Avner Dorman has fast become one of the most sought-after composers of his generation. In 2018, he received the prestigious Azrieli Prize for composition for his second violin concerto. His debut opera, Wahnfried, commissioned by Staatstheater Karlsruhe, as a counterpoint to their new Ring cycle in 2017, received unanimous and enthusiastic reviews, and was nominated in the 2018 International Opera Awards, in the category of World Premiere. Letters from Gettysburg, a work scored for soprano, baritone, large chorus, and percussion, is the center piece in this all-Dorman release. Written in 2013 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, it was commissioned by the Gettysburg College American Civil War Sesquicentennial Planning Committee. Following its premiere, Letters from Gettysburg was broadcast on radio stations across the U.S., including KUSC, WWFM, and WETA. © Canary Classics
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1930s Violin Concertos, Vol. 2

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released February 28, 2016 | Canary Classics

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Brahms: Piano Sonatas, Op.117, Op.118 & Op.119

Orli Shaham

Classical - Released June 3, 2015 | Canary Classics

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Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, BWV 1001 - BWV 1006

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released March 4, 2015 | Canary Classics

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1930s Violin Concertos, Vol. 1

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released April 1, 2014 | Canary Classics

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American Grace

David Robertson

Classical - Released March 3, 2014 | Canary Classics

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Nigunim, Hebrew Melodies

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released June 3, 2013 | Canary Classics

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Haydn: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 4 - Mendelssohn: Octet for Strings

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released March 1, 2010 | Canary Classics

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Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released September 28, 2009 | Canary Classics

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Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50

Yefim Bronfman

Classical - Released September 1, 2008 | Canary Classics

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Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Op.35 - Chen, He: Butterfly Lovers, Violin Concerto

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released October 1, 2007 | Canary Classics

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Fauré: Works for Violin, Piano and Cello

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released October 1, 2007 | Canary Classics

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Mozart in Paris: 6 Sonatas, Op. 1

Gil Shaham

Classical - Released May 29, 2007 | Canary Classics

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Prokofiev: Works for Violin and Piano

Gil Shaham

Chamber Music - Released May 29, 2007 | Canary Classics

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