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Barber/Korngold: Violin Concertos CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: Gil Shaham
  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: André Previn
  • Composer: Samuel Barber, Erich Wolfgang Korngold
  • Audio CD (2 Aug. 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: DG
  • ASIN: B000001GLX
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,083 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product description

SHAHAM / PREVIN / LONDON S. O.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I love Barber's violin conceto for its amazing inventiveness and gorgeous tunefulness. I've listened to many recordings including Perlman, Hahn, Stern, Takezawa, Bell etc...but, for me, young Gil Shaham's award-winning DG recording towers over all of them. He plays as if possessed by the music, with astonishingly rich singing tone, yet his firm intellectual grasp on the architecture of the work, lifts the music above mere aesthetics and emotional expression. Previn provides solid and vivid orchestral background, with the orchestra perfectly balanced with the soloist. Coupled with deeply lyrical and sublime performance of Korngold concerto and beautifully recorded, this must be one of the most satisfying CDs in entire violin concerto discography.
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By A Customer on 24 Jun. 2000
Format: Audio CD
For those who doubt Gil Shahams transcendental artistry, this cd dispels any doubts. His warm passionate sound is used to the full in the second movement of Barbers romantic concerto, and the third movement remains the perfect example of peerless virtuosity and poise. Shahams fantastic vibrato and musical phrasing bring to life Korngolds concerto in this unequalled recording of the work. I implore anyone who has not experienced Gil Shahams genius to do so now!
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Format: Audio CD
A wonderful choice of works - we don't hear these so often and rarely played with such panache. Someone commented in another review that this is just film music, and I see the point. But it is lush and accessible and, it it puts one on mind of wonderfully atmospheric B&W films, then all the better.

I love the Barber as a work, but actually prefer the Korngold, a very underrated composer. The performance is great - the melodies soar and the intimate sections have a powerful, underlying intensity. I love Previn's sensitive support and Shaham plays with incredible ease and understanding. He obviously love this music, too. The only slight niggle I'd have with the recording is in sound quality, which I found to be rather uneven - especially in the louder sections - and also some of Shaham's playing seems to verge on the scratchy/frantic. Even so, it is a great recording and surely the best there is of these works.
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Format: Audio CD
The violin concertos by Samuel Barber and Erich Korngold represent two 20th century masterpieces for the instrument. There are few exponents of these works to surpass violinist Gil Shaham and Andre Previn conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. Both concertos are quite beautiful and lyrical and Shaham's string tone is just perfection. The quality of the 1994 recording by DGG is up to their usual high standard. I am sure that those who listen to these concertos for the first time will enjoy them. They were composed at around the same time - the Barber concerto in 1939 and the Korngold in 1945 - and each concerto lasts something over 20 minutes. They are both more accessible on a first hearing probably than, say, the Sibelius or Prokofiev violin concertos and only marginally more challenging than the Bruch or Mendelssohn concertos. Keen filmgoers will detect more than a hint of `film music' about the Korngold I'm sure. There is a short `filler' on the CD - the Suite from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, played by Shaham (violin) and Previn (piano). This incidental music was written for a performance of the play at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna in 1920. Korngold was born in Austria and emigrated to America at the start of World War II.
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Format: Audio CD
So why not five stars? First, he's recorded too close. The orchestra has plenty of presence, and the sound is rich, but there are places where the balance brings the violin to the fore in an unnaturally spotlit way -- the slow movement of the Korngold was where I was most distracted by this. This isn't a criticism of Shaham's playing -- he was 22 when this recording was made (in 1994), and he has all the technique you could ask for, and lovely full-bodied tone to go with it. Nor is it a criticism of Previn, a master of lush romantic scores (Rachmaninov, Vaughan Williams), and he provided all that's needed here, and the orchestra sounds very good indeed. My other hesitation about the fifth star is the music -- it's lovely in the moment, but not particularly memorable. The first movement of the Barber plays with a lovely lyrical theme that weaves its way around something a bit snappier, and soloist and orchestra present it very appealingly. Likewise in the final movement of the Korngold -- which I liked a lot -- there's a charming blend of dance music, now sounding Eastern European and at other times Irish. It's a lot of fun, with plenty of opportunity for virtuoso passagework and orchestral high jinks. The high point of the recording, for me, was the 2.5 minutes of orchestral introduction to the Barber slow movement -- did he ever write anything more lovely? The violin has not yet entered, and the wind playing is exquisite. On the other hand, Barber just bails out of providing an interesting finale -- that 3+ minutes of virtuostic mishmash just doesn't cut it, well as Shaham plays.

As filler, Shaham is accompanied by Previn on piano in Korngold's "Much Ado" suite -- it's lovely and has the violin in better scale than the concerto recordings. Make no mistake, though -- Shaham is well worth hearing!
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