Founded in 1995, the Sejong Soloists were originally conceived of as a small group of artistically gifted young musicians from eight different countries spanning the globe. Since then, they have remained true to their original parameters and have established themselves as a highly respected, musically moving ensemble. This Canary Classics album features the group in concert with violinist Gil Shaham in riveting performances of Haydn's First and Fourth violin concertos. The First Concerto, in C major, is likely the most easily recognizable of Haydn's concertos and certainly the most technically demanding. Written for the concertmaster of the Esterhazy orchestra, the C major concerto is a marvel of pyrotechnical brilliance that all the while seems completely natural and fluid. Shaham and the Sejong Soloists work together to capture this flow and interplay between violin and orchestra. Shaham's is not only technically superb, but musically engaging and quite exciting. The Sejong Soloists turn what could be a lackluster orchestral accompaniment into an event all by itself. The sound is intense and robust without ever covering the soloist. Shaham joins Sejong again for a performance of Mendelssohn's Octet. This particular performance combines elements of the version that is most well known to listeners today with some of the spirit and simplicity that marked Mendelssohn's original, youthful version. The level of performance here is just as high as it was in the Haydn concertos, but with Shaham's more soloistic sound quality and projection in the first violin chair yields a less organic balance.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Violin Concerto No. 1 in C major, Hob. 7a:1|
|Violin Concerto No. 4 in G major, Hob. 7a:4|
|Octet for Strings in E flat major, Op. 20|