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COMPOSERS: Barber/Korngold
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Violin Concerto in D; Much Ado About Nothing – Suite, Op. 11
PERFORMER: Gil Shaham (violin) LSO/André Previn (conductor/piano)
These two concertos have a good deal in common. Both stress the introverted side of the violin, with bravura display concentrated in the busy finales. Elsewhere lyricism predominates, an enigmatic melancholy suffusing the Samuel Barber piece, written in 1939 and revised nine years later, a glowing, late-Romantic haze adding glamour to the rich yet ambiguous melodies of the Erich Wolfgang Korngold work (1945), whose material derives largely from his Hollywood film scores of the Thirties.


The young American-Israeli violinist Gil Shaham brings sensitivity and imagination to both scores, accomplishing all their technical demands and evoking the spirit of the music with an attractively grainy tone and impeccable interpretative assurance. André Previn, recently appointed conductor laureate to the LSO, secures stylish and vivid playing from the orchestra, although when trying to create a more intimate rapport with Shaham in the violin and piano version of Korngold’s Much Ado About Nothing suite of 1920 – Shakespeare re-created in terms of Viennese light music – he proves a curiously reticent accompanist.


The sound throughout is beautifully balanced, the carefully chosen orchestral colours of both composers vibrant and warm. George Hall