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by Daniel Hautzinger

american-graceOf all instrumentalists, pianists seem to commission and perform new works the least often. The repertoire for the piano is already so vast and worthy that many performers see no need to add to it. Why even play pieces from the past half-century, when there is so much great, neglected, earlier music?

Luckily, not all pianists think this way. Take Orli Shaham, whose album American Grace, released in February on Canary Classics, features attractive works written since 1975 by John Adams and Steven Mackey, as well as two world premiere recordings. One of those pieces, Steven Mackey’s concerto Stumble to Grace, was commissioned for Shaham by a consortium of orchestras as a result of her own initiative.

Stumble to Grace (2011), performed here with the responsive Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Shaham’s husband, David Robertson, is Mackey’s first major work for piano. 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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