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by Daniel Hathaway

Shaham_7091_FINAL_credit Luke Ratray.rLuke Ratray’s photograph on the cover of the program for Gil Shaham’s solo violin concert at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Thursday evening, February 6, caught the essence of the artist’s musical personality. Self-effacing and smiling, he looks down on his bow and fiddle with gently concentrated intensity but easy assurance, qualities he brought in full measure to his enthralling performances of three of Johann Sebastian Bach’s six works for violin alone.

Alone means, of course, violin without its customary baroque underpinning of bass line and harmony supplied by continuo instruments. Bach, with his uncanny way of creating multiple layers out of single melodic lines, makes you feel that nothing is missing — even when he writes virtual fugues — but a lot of the magic remains to be supplied by the performer, who is as solitary and just about as vulnerable on stage as a musician can be. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hathaway

SHAHAM-Gil2Northeastern Ohio Cleveland Orchestra fans who (rather enviously) tuned in to a recent live radio broadcast from Miami experienced the artistry of violinist Gil Shaham in the Korngold concerto in a performance led by Franz Welser-Möst. Shaham is spending the midwinter months playing that work in alternation with a solo program of J.S. Bach’s solo violin music. The Cleveland Museum of Art will bring Gil Shaham to its Masters of the Violin series-within-a-series on Thursday evening, February 6 to play three of Bach’s works. We reached Shaham by telephone in Houston last week where he was preparing to play the Korngold with John Adams and the Houston Symphony.

Daniel Hathaway: We enjoyed hearing the Korngold over the radio from Miami, and considering the weather here, we really wished we’d been there in person.

Gil Shaham: I felt very lucky to be there with Franz and The Cleveland Orchestra. It’s been a few years since I’ve played the Korngold. It’s beautifully written and the composer gets really wonderful sounds from the violin and the orchestra. Read the rest of this entry »

by Timothy Robson

Shaham,-Gil---by-Christian-SteinerThe rising young Ukrainian-born conductor Kirill Karabits made his Cleveland Orchestra debut on Saturday evening, August 3, at Blossom Music Center, in an all-Russian program. Gil Shaham was the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35. It was a beautiful summer’s eve, and there was a large audience enjoying the fresh air on the lawn, as well as in the Blossom pavilion.

Mr. Karabits opened the concert with an energetic reading of Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila. The momentum never lagged, even in the more lyrical moments of the five-minute curtain raiser, whose eponymous opera is almost never performed in the West. Mr. Karabits was a model of efficiency in his conducting, with minimalist baton movements, nods and flicks of his fingers to communicate his directions.

In an interview last week with ClevelandClassical’s Mike Telin, Gil Shaham expressed his enthusiasm for performing the Tchaikovsky concerto, one of the enduring favorites of the romantic violin repertoire. His enthusiasm was apparent in his performance at Blossom. His playing and stage presence showed his total involvement with the music. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Shaham,-Gil---by-Christian-SteinerWe are so lucky to have this Tchaikovsky violin concerto, it’s one of the great inspirations,” says violinist Gil Shaham. “And I think Tchaikovsky felt the same way about it.” On Saturday, August 3 beginning at 8:00 pm at Blossom Music Center, Gil Shaham will perform Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece with The Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Kirill Karabits. In addition to the Tchaikovsky, the all-Russian program also includes Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5.

In addition to his superb musicianship, Gil Shaham is thoroughly entertaining on stage and never leaves one wondering if he is having fun. “I do find a lot of joy in playing these days and I think I enjoy it now more then ever before,” he told us by telephone from Aspen, Colorado. “Maybe it is not such a good thing because I think that our job is very similar to the job of an actor. We have the ideal that the composer wrote for us, often dealing with very serious subjects…and the most extreme conditions of human experience. But I have to say that I really do enjoy it. When you are playing some of these great masterpieces like the Tchaikovsky, I feel very lucky to be there and to be playing it, and my gosh, to be able to play it with an orchestra like the Cleveland Orchestra!” Read the rest of this entry »

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