- A striking performance from percussionist Colin Currie
- Colin Currie brings probing mind and energetic technique to Pickman Hall
Boston Classical Review
- Beethoven: Complete Cello Sonatas and Variations CD review – here's how to make Beethoven's huge structures work
Johannes Debus, Patricia Racette
- A riveting Racette ignites in Met’s “Salome”
New York Classical Review
Wynton Marsalis, James Conlon, Giancarlo Guerrero, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Eric Jacobsen, Mariss Jansons, Ludovic Morlot, David Robertson, Gene Scheer, Gil Shaham, Yo-Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, Mason Bates, Silk Road Ensemble , Nashville Symphony , St. Louis Symphony Orchestra , The Knights , Patti LuPone, Georgia Jarman, Ian Bostridge, Nathan Gunn, Thomas Hampson, Lucas Meachem, Luca Pisaroni
- 2017 Grammy Nominees
- How the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Hit Its Stride
New York State of Opportunity
- Colin Currie provides the highlight in New World’s program of contemporary German music
South Florida Classical Review
- Review: VOCES8's "Winter"
- Review: Shai Wosner's Haydn/Ligeti
The TEN Tenors
- The TEN Tenors Launch Holiday Tour, Support St Jude Children’s Hospital
Shaham’s infectious glee, violin bring joy to BPO’s opening gala
Adele Anthony, Gil Shaham
By Mary Kunz Goldman
The people who turned out Saturday night for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s season-opening gala — a sold-out house, I heard — sure got their money’s worth. After music director JoAnn Falletta led the hall in singing the National Anthem, the concert got rolling with the renowned violinist Gil Shaham playing Pablo de Sarasate’s famous Fantasy on themes from Bizet’s “Carmen.”
And as if one great violinist were not enough, his wife, Adele Anthony, joined him in Bach’s sublime Concerto for Two Violins. After that, Shaham and Anthony rewarded the passionate applause with a generous encore, Sarasate’s “Navarra,” a bonbon off their new CD.
Then there was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, chorus, soloists and all. And after that, for the hardy, there was the Martini Mingle in the Mary Seaton Room. They are probably still there!
The concert, titled “Ode to Joy,” was on the schizophrenic side. It was odd to go from the breathless froth of the Sarasate to getting your heart torn out by the Beethoven Ninth. But what the heck, the season-opening gala is supposed to be a little over the top. And the audience loved it.
Shaham was a joy from the moment he stepped out on stage. Somewhere along the line he picked up a manic sense of humor. His “Carmen” Fantasy had a mischievous flair. His eyes and his grin were wide and you could see both, I am sure, all the way from the back of the hall.
He knows how to handle dynamics. He would drop from a forte into a whispery quiet, then continue that quiet, with an irresistible delicacy and another flash of that crazed smile. Hyper and wild, he seemed mindless of the piece’s difficulty. He loves what he is doing, loves the music, loves to play. There is no faking that.
His glee and virtuosity were such that at one point, people burst into spontaneous applause and by the end people were laughing unashamedly. Strangers were smiling at each other. That is what this guy does. Shaham’s wife has a more low-key kind of charm, a good foil for him. They played the Bach wonderfully together. Shaham often caught her eye, smiling that puckish grin, egging her on. The slow movement, one of the most romantic pieces of music of all time, had a marvelous tenderness.
As an encore the two of them flung themselves into the “Navarra,” off their new Sarasate CD. This was maniacal, delightful and dizzying from the word go. What a team they are, playing together, breathless and unstoppable. It was a terrific display.
Odd, as I said, to sober up after that for that first movement of the Beethoven Ninth. For that buzzing sound that begins it—scholars say it was what the deaf Beethoven heard in his head. For the delicate interplay of the woodwinds.
The scherzo was tense and focused. The caressing slow movement was a highlight, unfolding with the utmost seriousness and care.
The last movement, what everyone was waiting for, did not disappoint. Bass Kevin Deas, intoning that all-important first vocal line, commanded attention. He and the other singers — soprano Christina Nassif, mezzo soprano Jeniece Golbourne and tenor Israel Lozano — had the kind of power and presence the symphony demands. The chorus treated the “Ode to Joy” with power and finesse, with carefully shaped dynamics and fine moments of drama.