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Brahms - Concerto pour violon / Double Concerto
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"Gil Shaham y Jian Wang interpretan el Concierto para Violín y el Doble Concierto de Brahms, respectivamente, con la Berliner Philharmoniker bajo la dirección de Claudio Abbado. El maestro Abbado ha dirigido este concierto de modo diferente, cercano a la música de cámara, prestando gran atención a los detalles, en un peculiar estilo al que últimamente nos tiene acostumbrados. Al mismo tiempo, se puede apreciar la virtuosidad esperada de los solistas, que ya habían actuado juntos en varias ocasiones."
Il faut une certaine audace à Gil Shaham et à son éditeur pour oser proposer aux discophiles une énième version du Concerto pour violon de Brahms, qui compte au nombre des uvres pour violon les plus enregistrées. Qu'apporte donc le violoniste américain ? Un vent de fraîcheur, une élégance, une virtuosité maîtrisée : des arguments d'autant plus saillants que ce disque est le fruit d'un concert, sans les possibilités de "retouches" qu'offre le studio. À noter également la présence sur ce disque d'une très belle version du Double Concerto pour violon et violoncelle de Brahms, dans laquelle Shaham croise l'archet avec Jian Wang, non sans une certaine jubilation. --Pierre Guillaume
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C'est pour une part ce qui fait le prix de cet enregistrement de concert (2000) qui associe Claudio Abbado et la Philharmonie de Berlin, excellents, à Gil Shaham. Celui-ci, qui paraît d''abord assez menu de son, déploie progressivement un jeu aérien et splendide, d'une grâce quasi-féminine, auquel on résistera difficilement. Avec cette interprétation euphorique et hédoniste, Shaham rappelle qu'il est un des meilleurs solistes en activité. Ma seule réserve sur cet enregistrement porterait sur l'introduction du second mouvement et le hautbois d'Albrecht Mayer, assez neutres. On retrouve les mêmes qualités dans un Double Concerto de toute beauté (2001), où Shaham trouve en Jian Wang un partenaire bien plus qu''un rival, quelqu'un qui déploie comme lui une magnifique palette de couleurs et partage avec lui le souci de la belle ligne et le refus de l'effet gratuit.
Les admirateurs de Shaham et d'Abbado peuvent ausi chercher ceciEuropa Koncert 2002,Brahms: Concerto Pour Violon - Dvorák: Symphonie N° 9 [Blu-ray].Lire la suite ›
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Thank God for the Internet! If not for it, Americans like me would hardly be able to lay hands on this extraordinary disc. And extraordinary it is, boasting superlative performances of two of Brahms' most important works in rich, velvety, and ideally balanced sound.
The Double Concerto, long my favorite of Brahms' four concerti, here gets the performance of its life. Praise, first, to the two solists, who play as one; more than once during the first movement, where the violin begins a downward passage only to be taken up by the 'cello, or the 'cello begins an upward passage to be continued by the violin, I couldn't tell where one soloist left off and the other began. Such synergy is woefully rare in performances of this piece and here bespeaks (finally!) the matching of two musicians of caliber. Too often, we are forced to listen to a great violinist and a so-so 'cellist make this work into a violin concerto with 'cello obligato (I'm thinking of the unfortunate Mutter/Meneses/Karajan recording) or a great violinist and great 'cellist contort the piece out of all recognizable shape at the service of virtuosity (I won't even mention which recording I'm talking about here, because I know it has its legions of admirers). Instead, Shaham, Wang, and Abbado give a performance that is virile, yet touched by melancholy (the closing bars of the slow movement are breathtaking, as is much of the hushed development section of the first movement), and, by opening themselves up to a wider range of emotions than I've ever heard in this work, give it a fitting grandeur, appropriate to Brahms' valedictory orchestral statement.
The performance of the Violin Concerto took me longer to get a handle on; it is emotionally complex (both the work and the artists' interpretation of it) and can't really be summed up in a few words. That said, the word that first came to mind was "sensuous," although there is no lack of heft in the reading here; then words like "spontaneous" and "effortless" came to mind. For a while there, truth to tell, I wondered if perhaps Shaham and Abbado didn't make the piece sound too "easy," not projecting enough sense of struggle, but then I realized that Brahms had conceived this piece as (what was for him) "idyllic." It shares the world of the Second Symphony and First Violin Sonata. After several more listenings I finally hit on the word "inevitable." Listening to the way the work is performed here, I can't imagine it being performed any other way. Yet there is nothing overtly radical about the interpretation. The first movement is alternately tough and tender, at a tempo a bit faster than the norm, but never (!) sounding rushed; the second movement has a wonderful whimsy (with a superbly individual delivery [lots of rubato!] of the famous oboe solo); and the finale goes like lightning without ever sounding like cheap display. Overriding it all is the superb partnership (and balancing) between solist and conductor, making this a true "symphonic concerto."
In sum, a refreshing, thought-provoking, and altogether beautiful set of performances of two life-enhancing works, to engage mind and heart. I wouldn't be surprised if this one were destined for greatness.
Gil Shaham is the soloist in the Violin Concerto. From the start it's a given that he will play with confidence, but he goes further. He instills sweetness in his tone, making a delightful world of warmth. Since this is Berlin, we're assured a wonderful big sound, but Abbado isn't going for excitement. He creates a pastoral atmosphere, pulling soaring sounds from his orchestra, particularly in the 1st movement. For me it was in the 1st movement that Shaham and Abbado were the most convincing, as they have a fast tempo but never sound at all rushed, only spontaneous. Albrecht Mayer opens the 2nd movement with a touching oboe solo and the whole piece is gentle and soothing in Abbado's hands. The orchestra doesn't have the darkness of tone that was present under Karajan and brought back by Rattle but that didn't bother me. The finale could have been done with more robustness, but it put a smile on my face all the same. Looking back over the whole performance, I'm pleased, although it wouldn't have hurt to let more excitement on the scene.
But it was the tantalizing performance of the Double Concerto that won me over to this album. Shaham is joined by Jian Wang on the cello and they both play with agility and a high level of personality. Yet I'm inclined to believe that this is really Abbado's game. He conducts the Berliners with an enthusiasm that is infectious. From the opening bars I can sense that he loves his music and is determined to make that clear. Abbado is never pretentious and he sounds wholly sincere. If I say that Abbado makes the most of the smallest details, I'm stating the obvious. There's a wonder to it all that isn't easy to describe, but I'll just say that there's a strong sense of direction and power that few conductors know how to achieve. Every pizzicato, every ordinary chord suddenly has purpose yet the music never sounds overworked. All the life is still there, thriving in an environment of super virtuoso playing. Going back to the Perlman/Ma/Barenboim account of this work that I listened to in my younger years, it sounds tame and nearly dull. There's no point comparing Abbado to Barenboim as Abbado is the greater conductor to begin with but comparing Shaham/Wang to the more famous (and better, we're told) team of Perlman/Ma , the former duo is simply more expressive and less restrained. So while I think Abbado is the biggest winner, it's only fair to acknowledge that Shaham and Wang are on a very high level themselves.
This is a very fine disc, especially because of the superb Double Concerto. It's a joy to hear Abbado at his most inspired.
- It's quite fast, first of all. Heifetz fans should be pleased. The average first mvt these days goes around.. 22-24 minutes, but Shaham and Abbado take it in 20'50. Not 18'50, but the dramatic sections seem to speed up appropriately; the orchestral introduction is nearly exactly Heifetz/Reiner tempo. The second mvt is 8'30, the last a very sprightly 7'30. (compare to Heifetz 7'20 or... Chung 8'30).
-It's a live recording; the balance is NOT forward on Shaham. This is not a problem in that you can hear very well the orchestra (one of my complaints about Hahn's recording was the forward balance), but Shaham's tone seems a bit more streamlined than it does in say, his Barber/Korngold recording, and sometimes it's hard to hear him.
-The BPO is in top form(not that this is unusual for them, but it's so much more refreshing than some other orchestras, ie Academy of St Martin in the Fields), and Abbado is attentive to detail. All the lines are brought out and in general everything works together very well.
As for Shaham's performance, perhaps because of the balance, it seems less colorful than you might expect. It also seems to be a relatively conservative reading in terms of emotional outpouring, etc. It's very clear, streamlined, technically perfect, refreshing - no whining in the upper registers - the giocoso is quick, the flourishes actually flourish, and there is humour as well. Is it beautiful?? Maybe, but those who prefer a Mutter approach (who probably aren't even considering this CD) will say no. I think it could do with a little more Heifetzian intensity myself. But in terms of sound quality and overall performance, I think it's a very good modern Brahms. (Gramophone gave it 5 stars in their August issue.)
The double concerto I would not give 5 stars (but 4). Probably because there are less blah modern recordings of it than the violin concerto, so there's less out there to make it seem refreshing. There is nothing upsetting about the tempos (17'10, 8'00, 8'50), although for a minor point, the orchestral entrance in the first mvt (after the soloists present themselves) seems a little asleep. Abbado wakes up soon enough, though- I think it's the soloists who make or break this recording. Shaham and Wang are both very good, of course, but they lack that edge-of-your-seat intensity that Oistrakh/Rostropovich bring. They do not dig into the double stops as much as they could; it's almost like the easy listening Brahms double concerto. Maybe it'd work best for a younger fan who is still scared of nitty-gritty solo string playing? If I had to generalize nicely, I'd say it's a cooler, 'intellectual' reading. STILL, I have to recommend Oistrakh/Rostropovich/Szell as top choice for this concerto.
But it's the Double Concerto, I think, that's the marvel. This late work reflects one of Brahms's unique emotions: melancholy fervor. Performances need to be spirited and fleet not to sound lugubrious. Here Shaham and cellist Jian Wang go further--they play with one voice, in a synchronized duet of amazing spontaneity and inner life. One marvels at how joyful this work can be made to sound, and Abbado is with them every step of the way. I've never heard the like. Five stars plus.