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1930's Violin Concertos [Gil Shaham, David Robertson, Juanjo Mena] [Canary Classics: CC12] [Double CD]

Gil Shaham Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Gil Shaham is internationally recognized as one of today’s most virtuosic and engaging artists. He is sought after throughout the world for concerto appearances with celebrated orchestras and conductors, as well as for recital and ensemble appearances on the great concert stages and at the most prestigious festivals. Gil has recently appeared in concert with the New York Philharmonic, ... Read more in Amazon's Gil Shaham Store

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Frequently Bought Together

1930's Violin Concertos [Gil Shaham, David Robertson, Juanjo Mena] [Canary Classics: CC12] + Mozart: Piano Concerto No.25 In C Major K.503;  Piano Concerto No.20 In D Minor K.466
Price For Both: £26.15

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Product details

  • Conductor: David Robertson, Juanjo Mena
  • Composer: Samuel Barber, Alban Berg, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Igor Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten
  • Audio CD (3 Mar 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Canary Classics
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,714 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Violin Concerto, Op. 14: I. Allegro10:14Album Only
Listen  2. Violin Concerto, Op. 14: II. Andante 8:36Album Only
Listen  3. Violin Concerto, Op. 14: III. Presto in moto perpetuo 4:27£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Violin Concerto: I. Andante 4:43£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Violin Concerto: I. Allegretto 6:47£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Violin Concerto: II. Allegro 7:13£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Violin Concerto: II. Adagio 8:43Album Only
Listen  8. Concerto funebre: I. Introduction: Largo 1:03£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Concerto funebre: II. Adagio 7:19£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Concerto funebre: III. Allegro di molto 7:54£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Concerto funebre: IV. Choral: Langsamer Marsch 4:04£0.59  Buy MP3 

Disc 2:

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Violin Concerto in D Major: I. Toccata 5:47£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Violin Concerto in D Major: II. Aria I 4:12£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Violin Concerto in D Major: III. Aria II 5:22£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Violin Concerto in D Major: IV. Capriccio 6:25£0.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 15: I. Moderato con moto - Agitato - Tempo primo 9:41Album Only
Listen  6. Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 15: II. Vivace - Animando - Largamente - Cadenza 8:11Album Only
Listen  7. Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 15: III. Passacaglia14:50Album Only

Product Description


As the skies darkened, composers wrote violin concertos. The 1930s, which saw the rise of Hitler, Stalin's massacres, the Spanish Civil War and the displacement of millions of innocents, yielded a resurgence of violin concertos so timely and intense that it must have been more than coincidence. The virtuoso Gil Shaham is collating some 18 concertos of the decade in a live-performance series on his own label.Not all concertos are created equal. Samuel Barber's, which opens this set, is sweet too sweet to have been written during the German invasion of Poland. The composer's wilful myopia and tune-stocked willingness to please render the work a harmless anachronism, brilliantly played and utterly superficial.Alban Berg's concerto, written in the year he died, 1935, mourns the death of Alma Mahler's daughter, Manon, and, one by one, Vienna s creative freedoms. That same year, in Munich, Karl Amadeus Hartmann was writing a Concerto funèbre for violin and string orchestra that he refused to have played under Nazi rule. Each of these works is a milestone in time; Hartmann's, fabulously delivered by Shaham and a Korean ensemble, is a near-masterpiece by an undervalued composer.The remaining concertos here are Britten's and Stravinsky's, both more switched-out than switched-on, although Britten, just 25 in 1939, admits intimations of the ominous. Shaham performs with top orchestras New York Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Boston Symphony and BBC and in excellent sound. His series promises to be an essential adjunct to our understanding of the era. ***** RECORD OF THE WEEK. --Sinfini Music, !7/3/14

What first struck me about this initial volume how Shaham, a fine musician even 20 or so years ago, has matured as a player, his vibrato marginally quicker and more intense than it had been, his sound palette far subtler, less prone to over-ripeness, his range of expression wider, more sensitive to the rise and fall of a phrase. This is a most distinguished release and I cannot wait for the second instalment. GRAMOPHONE EDITORS CHOICE --Gramophone, Apr'14

Here are five great works directed from the violin by Gil Shaham, with the vibrant Sejong Soloists, this poignant 1939 work gets an edge of the seat performance. Performance **** Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, May'14

Product Description

Concertos pour violon de Britten, Berg, Stravinski, Hartmann & Barber / Gil Shaham, violon - Boston Symphony Orchestra - New York Philharmonic - Staatskapelle Dresden - Sejong Soloists - BBC Symphony Orchestra - Juanjo Mena & David Robertson, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
There must have been something in the water in the 1930's to have made composers imaginations so fertile at this juncture in world history. Most violin fanciers will be familiar with the works on these two well filled discs with the possible exception of Karl Amadeus Hartmann's concerto which hasn't gained quite the foot hold in the repertoire that the others have. I have to admit that it's a work I know of but don't really know to listen to. Well, I intend to use this recording to remedy this!

Gil Shaham must rank as one of the finest violinists now appearing before the public and this quintet of works simply proves this. None of these works have been shy in attracting the biggest names in violin playing but Shaham can hold his own with ANY of them! There is virtuosity to burn as well as the purest of musical insights that highlight new aspects of these works.

A wonderful collection. Roll on volume two!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music in the Worse of Times 5 Mar 2014
By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Before dealing with the distinctions of performance of the five violin concertos, let us consider the very project that Gil Shaham has begun. The recent global economic crisis reminds us that history is now ripe for a retrospection of the 1930s, particularly in the arts. The vigorous social rebound of the 1920s following the slaughter of the Great War now came to a traumatic halt. It was not the best of times. Besides the mounting misery of the Great Depression and its spread across the world, military fascism was on the rise with social intolerance and a growing threat of war. Jazz was evolving from New Orleans style and Charleston dances to big band swing. From the classical music perspective, Shaham examines how composers each approached this era, seeking a zeitgeist and insights into the social matrix and individuality. Four of the five pieces are from live concerts with different orchestras. To ensure some evenness in listening to the series, the same audio engineers were involved in editing and mixing (with the same exception) and conductor David Robertson was leader in three of the concerti, though this choice may also have its own disadvantages.

The first concerto, performed with the New York Philharmonic, is the Barber from 1939, begun at the outset of World War II with Barber hurrying back home from the Swiss alps. Although completed in 1940, Barber was not entirely satisfied, especially with the last movement, and revised it in 1948. Many renditions of this piece are highly romantic, but Shaham and Robertson interpret it in darker, realistic tones. The lyricism and beauty of the first movement now has a foreboding horizon, and the concerto soon turns plaintive and anxious with the shadow of war. This andante, recognized for its melancholic passion, is made achingly beautiful as well with Shaham. The piece ends with a brief energetic technically demanding presto, which after the revision includes a touch of post-war cynicism. I very much like this performance and also the sound engineering.

The musical friendship of Aban Berg and the family of Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius and his wife, Mahler widow Alma Schindler, led to the 12-tone violin concerto of 1935 honoring the daughter of Gropius, who died at age 18. A deeply personal composition, it has musical quotations and allusions meaningful in Berg's life, and structurally it is ambivalent in its modern and traditional harmonies. Emotionally, the two-movement, 4-part piece does speak of tragedy and discord. The short-lived dance notes are crushed. At times, the music screams and laments. Eventually, at the very end, there is religious acceptance and release as the violin soars to heaven. With the Staatskapella Dresden, Shaham gives a subdued and rather even reading of depression and anguish, and the overall symphonic performance lacks the wide dynamic range of, say, the Sophie-Mutter/Levine collaboration, which has the additional emotion of anger; but neither is more valid than the other. People express grief in different ways.

The little known violin concerto by the poorly known Karl Amadeus Hartmann closes the first disc. Hartmann was an anti-fascist who kept a low profile in Nazi Germany with his painter brothers. During this period, he studied but did not write music, and refused to have his music performed. The 1939 (revised 1959) Concerto funebre, dedicated to his young son and spurred by the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, is a somber reflection, jagged and influenced by Central European Expressionism. Musical quotations of a Hussite war choral and a funeral tune in remembrance of the failed 1905 revolution mark Hartmann's defiance. The piece closes lyrically, in gentle and quiet hope and caution until the final abrupt chord. The Sejong Soloists of New York, a string orchestra named after the 15th-century ruler of Korea, a patron of the arts, perform with Shaham in a studio recording.

The second disc opens with Stravinsky's frequently performed 4-section violin concerto. Shaham plays with the BBC Symphony. The playful, exciting work, often with Soldier's Tale edginess, begins with a folk dance toccata and runs through episodes of various fun and lively structuces. Written in 1931, it still has Jazz Age spunk, the Depression had not yet becoming Great, and war was a ridiculous thought. Having heard this perform many times, I was not disappointed with Shaham's perspective. It proved not so different, and indeed the first section was as joyful as I have ever heard. The close-in microphone on the violin allowed new appreciation for textured bowing and fingering in this work. The middle sections were lyrical and sweet between the strident chordal punctuation; and the final movement presents technical virtuosity with capriccio gymnastics.

From the rebellious, winking inventions of 1931 we come to Benjamin Britten's 1939 seriousness. For pacifist Britten, hope was fading. The light of Spain dimmed with Franco's victory and Poland was invaded. He took leave of England for Canada and then the United States, completing his concerto. Its drama and complexity in the first movement seemed to include bugle calls by the string section and Spanish rhythm and phrases haunt. Influenced by Shostokovich, the scherzo has teeth. The second movement has protest at its heart and ends with a surprisingly long solo violin cadenza with Spanish echoes. The final movement occupies nearly half the concerto. Twelve variations of the theme flow dark and obsessive; it closes on an extended sad note. Britten returned to England in 1942. The Boston Symphony led by Juajjo Mena helps Shaham convey the shattering of idealism, which can be the common core of these concerti. I welcome this series. Volume one consists of two discs, 71 and 54 min.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mostly wonderful live readings that throw the Thirties into an expansive light 4 Mar 2014
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format:Audio CD
I'll try not to react to the misleading prior reviews that found fault with this exceptional - and exceptionally generous - release, which gives us five concertos on two CDs. It was an inspired idea for Gil Shaham to use "concertos of the 1930s" as a theme, because several threads interweave among these works. Let me list the program first.

Barber, S:
Violin Concerto, Op. 14
New York Philharmonic Orchestra, David Robertson

Violin Concerto 'To the Memory of an Angel' (1935)
Staatskapelle Dresden, David Robertson

Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 15
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Juanjo Mena

Hartmann, K:
Concerto Funèbre for violin & string orchestra
Sejong Soloists

Violin Concerto in D
BBC Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson

The somberness and anxiety of the age are reflected in the Berg, Hartmann, and Britten concertos; Stravinsky's neoclassicism also strongly affected Britten's style, and he tells us that his concerto followed upon hearing the Berg for the first time, a devastating experience. Only the Barber floats above the dark mood of the time. These are live performances, each caught in exemplary sound, the only exception being the Britten, which was miked too far away to capture quite enough orchestral detail. But it also suffers form tepid conducting by the rising Spanish conductor, Juanjo Mena, which seems to pull Shaham into a reticent mood.

Everything else demonstrates why Shaham is universally loved by audiences and admired by his peers. He combines flawless technique, beautiful tone, perfect control over the lyrical line, and superb musical instincts. Often described as a warm player, he captures the angst in the Stravinsky and Berg concertos quite well - these two readings are worth the price of the entire set, and the accompaniments by Shaham's favorite conductor (and brother-in-law) David Robertson match the acuity and detail of the soloist. both readings could easily be anyone's first choice.

The Hartmann concerto, as its name says, is funereal; most of us have never heard it, and not all five movements rise to the same level of quality. The two strongest movements, to my ears, are the Adagio and the concluding Chorale (a link to the Bach chorale in the Berg), where mournfulness is matched by a beautiful line, in which Hartmann writes the kind of "almost melodies" that Britten also specialized in. As moving as Hartmann can be, I'm glad very few composers followed his utterly bleak attitude toward his tragic times. Shaham made his debut on DG with a pairing of the Barber and Korngold concertos, a classic recording that could hardly be bettered. This live reading is at least as good as the original; I hear few differences.

The blurb for this set whets the appetite for Vol. 2 in the series when it says, "The 1930s was an incredibly rich decade for the violin concerto, thriving on what was the uncertainty of the age. Over 30 violin concertos materialized across the decade, with well over a dozen - from Stravinsky and Berg's through to Barber's and Britten's concertos - all commanding iconic status within the violinist's repertory." Let's see what treasures Shaham and Robertson have in store for us next.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous performances 28 Mar 2014
By Cheryl P Bishkoff - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
These are wonderful (mostly live) performances by one of the best violinists of our time. Bravo for giving less known works this kind of attention as well.
1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Technically Flawless, but Cold. 2 Mar 2014
By C.M. - Published on
Format:Audio CD
While I think that schmaltz is enemy #1 of good classical music and that 1930s concerti ought to be played with restraint, Gil Shaham’s interpretation felt so cerebral that it entirely shut out the heart. It’s a shame because I wanted to love this CD. These concerti speak beautifully to the turmoil of the times, but Gil Shaham’s interpretation, while technically flawless, felt cold and removed from what the music seeks to convey. I felt that the various orchestras he played with consistently hit a better overall emotional note than he did. It’s a shame that his talent and technical prowess could not be put to better use.
1 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inspired? I Think Not... 1 Mar 2014
By music7lover - Published on
Format:Audio CD
The sound is so studied and not lush or warm. Gil doesn't bring you in to the music but pushes this listener away with
strange and fussy phrasing. Its strange that so many of his concerts and now this recording are with his brother in law. I guess its nepotism at its best.
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