Review: Gil Shaham 1930s Violin Concertos Volume 2

Eric Jacobsen, Gil Shaham, The Knights

Prokofiev’s Violin concerto no. 2 was composed in 1935, during a busy period in Prokofiev’s career that involved an overwhelming amount of travelling, as Prokofiev remarked: "The number of places in which I wrote the Concerto shows the kind of nomadic concert-tour life I led then. The main theme of the 1st movement was written in Paris, the first theme of the 2nd movement at Voronezh, the orchestration finished in Baku and the premiere was given in Madrid.”

Gil Shaham’s interpretation is characterised by intensely rich tone, supple, flawless technique in the intricate, winding melodies, gliding comfortably from one tonality to the next, with superb intonation, musicality and true emotional warmth.

The sound quality is equally pleasing. The acoustics give a realistic amount of reverb, contributing to an expansive feeling.

The orchestral playing is particularly impressive: the Knights under the baton of Eric Jacobsen, provide both a strong force and subtle sensitive moments. In the slow middle movement the woodwinds ignite their engine over which Shaham and his solo violin bask in the expansive sonic beauty. Warm bassoon tone with singing clarinets feature strongly. The orchestra gives strength in characters, glowing and shimmering, showing the romantic side of Prokofiev. The third movement is full of ever-changing virtuosic prowess, the feeling of the dance-like rhythm taking centre stage.

Performance: five stars
Sound: five stars 

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