Calidore String Quartet
- Calidore String Quartet: Restraint & Passion
The Millbrook Independent
Silk Road Ensemble
- The Silk Road Ensemble Interprets Dunhuang through Spontaneous Live Music
The Earth-An HD Odyssey
- Concert review: PSO takes audience on Earth 'Odyssey'
David Alan Miller
- 5Q to David Alan Miller (conductor, music director of the Albany Symphony)
- Piano star Tharaud finds freedom in saying no
- Mainly Mozart orchestra needs no conductor
San Diego Union Tribune
- Why record all 32 Beethoven Sonatas?
- ‘Float Rumble Rest,’ a Hometown Tribute to Ali
The New York Times
- Opus 3 Artists Welcomes Alexi Kenney to the Roster
Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood
- Opus 3 Artists and Giants Are Small present Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood the Live Concert Experience
Shaham and co bring bustling virtuosity to Mendelssohn’s teenage masterpiece
By David Threasher
Often when listening to Mendelssohn’s Octet, I find myself searching for moments that might betray the youthfulness of its creator: some prolixity, some passing pomposity, some momentary immaturity or fleeting grandiosity pointing to the fact that the composer was only 16 years old. Needless to say, time and time again I draw a blank, finding it impossible to pinpoint anything that suggests that it’s anything less than perfect, one of the true miracles of music. Gil Shaham and the Sejong Soloists – a handpicked ensemble of young musicians – present a driving performance, bustling and forward-moving in the opening Allegro, perhaps a little cosmetic in the Andante but ideally airborne and impish in the Walpurgis-Scherzo. Shaham is spotlit within the balance, most notably in the first movement, although a better equilibrium is approached thereafter. There are some breathtaking pianissimos and beguiling touches of portamento in what is a most likeable performance, building cumulatively to a chattering contrapuntal finale that demonstrates these players’ admirable abilities individually and in ensemble. I maintain a soft spot for the recording (on period instruments) by Hausmusik (Virgin, 9/90R); this is sweeter, less stately, equally compelling.
The couplings are two of Haydn’s three extant violin concertos, also early works, although “early” for Haydn means he was around twice the age of Octet-period Mendelssohn. Shaham’s rich violin tone is a boon in these works, especially in the central slow movements, making this a viable modern-instrument alternative (with fairly inoffensive harpsichord continuo) to the recent Podger in No 1 (Channel Classics, 12/09) or the older Standage/Pinnock (Archiv, 5/89) and Wallfisch (Virgin, 11/92R). Stephen Somary’s otherwise comprehensive booklet-note goes through all manner of contortions to concoct a link between Haydn’s slight concertos and the still-remarkable genius of Mendelssohn’s teenage masterpiece.