Gil Shaham Illustrates Range with Two World Premieres, Three “Violin Concertos of the 1930s”

“One of today’s pre-eminent violinists.” – New York Times

From new commissions and neglected rarities to repertory staples, Avery Fisher Prize-winner Gil Shaham demonstrates his singular versatility over the coming months. Late April sees the master violinist – Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year – undertake the world premiere of Kaddish (2011), a new violin concerto by Richard Danielpour, for three dates with the New Jersey Symphony. With his enviable flair for multi-tasking, Shaham couples the new commission with Berg’s Violin Concerto (1935), one of the many “Violin Concertos of the 1930s” foregrounded by his celebrated programming project of that name. Others include Stravinsky’s (1931), which he performs with Zurich’s Tonhalle-Orchester in May, and Hartmann’s less familiar Concerto funèbre (1939), for which the violinist joins the Bavarian State Orchestra and Kent Nagano in June. A second world premiere, of Julian Milone’s In the country of lost things…, forms the centerpiece of Shaham’s European recital tour this May, alongside signature works by Sarasate and Bach. And he revisits another of his favorite classics – Mozart’s Fifth Concerto (“Turkish”) – for the second of two upcoming collaborations with long-term musical partners Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Guggenheim Fellow Richard Danielpour (b. 1956) composed Kaddish to honor his dead father; of its original arrangement for chamber ensemble, the New York Times reported: “Named for a Jewish prayer recited in memory of the dead,…the work captures and magnifies the prayer’s essence by juxtaposing an intricate, glancingly modal solo violin line and rhythmically steady, sometimes forceful ensemble writing.” For his world premiere performances of Kaddish in its new incarnation for violin and orchestra, Shaham pairs the concerto with another elegiac example of the genre, also composed as a memorial; Berg’s Violin Concerto (“To the Memory of an Angel”) was written shortly before the composer died, to commemorate the untimely death of Alma Mahler’s teenage daughter.


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