Gil Shaham, violin
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
David Zinman, conductor
Gil Shaham’s affair with the Elgar Violin Concerto started over 15 years ago. In the early 1990’s David Zinman spoke with Gil about the Elgar Concerto, a work Gil knew of but had not learnt. Zimnan effused to Gil: ‘you should really learn it..it’s mine and Mary’s [Zinman’s wife] favourite violin concerto’. Gil subsequently, ‘couldn’t understand the intensity of his passion for this piece’. That is until Gil started learning the score, where he very quickly realised the ease in which one can get easily lost in the detail of every bar.
With the trajectory that Gil’s career was on in the early 1990s, time did not allow for the Concerto’s undertaking until 4 or 5 years ago. Now that it is in Gil’s repertoire he has performed it around the world, including with the Philharmonia Orchestra here in the UK, throughout the USA including Miami, New York, San Francisco and Chicago and in late October this year undertakes 3 consecutive performances with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by David Zinman.
This live recording starts with a bracing tempi, in a style which Elgar himself would have approved, and as the first movememt progresses it gains a surging quality that the Concerto ideally requires. In the slow movement conductor, soloist and orchestra come into their own impressively and seemingly effortlessly achieving just the right level of intensity to clearly convey the narrative. The third movement (allegro molto) is beautifully paced and brings the recording to a satisfying completion that leaves the listener requiring repeated and continous listening. Orchestra, conductor and soloist achieve a wonderful synergy throughout, obviously a result, in part, from the nine straight concert performances undertaken with the CSO in February 2007.
“The playing of the orchestra finds a perfect counterpart in the performance of Gil Shaham, always one of the most sensitive and responsive of the high-powered violin virtuosos. The slow movement brings refinement and purity, while the main Allegro in the finale is fast and light, leading to a deeply dedicated account of the long accompanied cadenza.”
Gramophone Magazine, December 2008
“…some real marvels: the cello-like tone on the G string, the supremely hushed first expounding of the second subject, the way the final cadenza blows about in the breeze. Shaham's magic, though, isn’t matched by the accompaniment.”
BBC Music Magazine, January 2009