Haydn: Violin Concertos / Mendelssohn: Octet
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Artistic Director Hyo Kang, with whom Shaham studied at Juilliard, envisioned this chamber group made up of young musicians from nine different nations, as a "cultural ambassador." Their reputation is built on the ensemble's cohesiveness and their refreshing musical style. Under Gil Shaham's direction, they perform two early Violin Concertos by Joseph Haydn and Felix Mendelssohn's Octet with a strong sense of intensity and intimacy. Felix Mendelssohn was a perfectionist. When he completed his ground-breaking Octet at the age of 12 in 1825, he wasn't satisfied. He continued to revise the work, finally allowing it to be published six years later. The performance heard on this new recording with Gil Shaham and Sejong Soloists blends the composer's final version with aspects of the original version which earned Mendelssohn instant fame as a young teen... Gil Shaham and Sejong Soloists toured extensively before making this recording, really getting to know these youthful works of Mendelssohn and Haydn. That level of commitment allows them to bring out the most touching and the most uplifting side of these two young geniuses. -Julie Amacher -- Minnesota Public Radio, June 22, 2010
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I am certainly glad that enjoyment of music is not a race. I would have lost by several lengths. In listening to Gil Shaham with the Sejong Soloists perform Haydn's Violin Concertos I am struck by the energy and joi de vivre of these spectacular pieces. There such a tremendous amount of spirit and ecstasy in these performances that when I close my eyes I can't help but picture myself inside of George Seurat's painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte".
It is remarkable how one's opinion of a composer can rely so heavily on the performer's interpretation of the piece. I have heard the Violin Concertos many times before, but they have never entered my consciousness with quite the same amount of intensity. This recording has truly been a revelation to me and I can see myself returning for future visits to La Grande Jatte as often as opportunity arises. I cannot recommend this recording highly enough. It is most definitely one of my favorites of the year.