Gil Shaham

1930s Violin Concertos, Vol. 1

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Gil Shaham has long been fascinated by the unusually large number of violin concertos that were composed in the 1930s, and he has made it a special project to document this extraordinarily fertile decade in modern music. The first volume of 1930s violin concertos, a double-CD on Canary Classics, presents five of the most famous works in a series that invites superlatives: Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, Op. 14; Alban Berg's Violin Concerto; Karl Amadeus Hartmann's Concerto funebre; Igor Stravinsky's Violin Concerto in D; and Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto in D minor. Shaham recorded these performances between 2008 and 2013 with different ensembles, which has produced varied but appropriate accompaniments in keeping with the demands of the composers, though the sound quality is slightly uneven due to the changes of venues. However, Shaham is front and center, and his presence dominates the performances, giving the solo parts warmly personal interpretations that, for all their technical virtuosity, are rather more on the brooding side and serious in expression. For future volumes, Shaham is expected to record concertos by Bartók, Bloch, Hindemith, Martinu, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Szymanowski, and Walton, so fans of modern violin concertos should keep a sharp lookout.

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