Barber, Korngold: Violin Concertos; Korngold: Much Ado about Nothing - Suite

Gil Shaham / André Previn

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Barber, Korngold: Violin Concertos; Korngold: Much Ado about Nothing - Suite Review

by Joseph Stevenson

This sparkling suite for violin and piano came into being when the composer had to adapt his incidental score for a production of Shakespeare's play to the impending absence of the chamber orchestral. The result is a brilliant piece for violin and piano, which the composer quickly released in a four-movement version. There are other recordings of the chamber orchestra suite in five-movements that duplicate only three of the movements of this version.

Violinist Gil Shaham and pianist André Previn are ideal partners in this brilliant performance. The four movements allow Shaham to show four sides of his violinist's personality: He skips and plays in carefree fashion in the opening movement, indulges in the grotesquery and parody of the second, gets to play the romantic in the garden scene of the third movement, and dazzles with virtuosity in the final hornpipe.

Previn's part is more than mere accompaniment; the piano often has a large part of the mood of the music and his contribution is, to use a word already employed here, ideal.

The recording is fine: The instruments are in a reasonable resonant recital context obtained in this 1993 taping in New York's Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The good, clear, natural sound was obtained by producer Christian Gansch and Tonmeister Andrew Wedman.

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