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A Classical Special Recital
February 7
Copley Symphony Hall

Gil Shaham, violin
Akira Eguchi, piano

J.S. BACH: Partita No. 3 in E major for Solo Violin, BWV 1006
AVNER DORMAN: Violin Sonata No. 3: Nigunim
WILLIAM BOLCOM: Suite No. 2 for Solo Violin (World Premiere - Music Accord Commission)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47: Kreutzer

One night only! Acclaimed violinist Gil Shaham gives a very special recital of music with pianist Akira Eguchi on the Symphony Hall stage. (Note: the San Diego Symphony does not perform.)

CLICK HERE for a New York Times review of the premiere of Avner Dorman's Nigunim in 2011!

CLICK HERE for a new San Diego Jewish Journal story about Gil Shaham and mandolinist Avi Avital!


Gil Shaham's appearance on this recital is made possible by Guest Artist Partners
 Raffaella and John Belanich.



Gil Shaham performs the Gigue movement from  J.S. Bach's  Partita No. 3 in E Major.


Partita No. 3 in E Major for Solo Violin, BWV 1006


Born March 21, 1685, Eisenach

Died July 28, 1750, Leipzig


            Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin date from about 1720, when Bach was music director at the court of Anhalt-Cöthen. The three sonatas are in sonata di chiesa form, employing a slow-fast-slow-fast sequence of movements, but the structure of the three partitas is more complex. The term partita–which suggests a collection of parts–refers to a suite of dances, and Bach wrote his three partitas for unaccompanied violin as sets of dance movements. While each of the sonatas has four movements, of which the second is always a fugue, the partitas have more movements (five to seven) and are somewhat freer in form, as Bach adapted a number of old dance forms to the capabilities of the solo violin. In his final partita for unaccompanied violin, Bach virtually dispenses with the standard allemande-courante-sarabande-gigue sequence of the partita and instead creates an entirely original structure consisting of a stunning opening movement, a varied series of dances, and a concluding gigue (the only survivor from the traditional sequence).

            The title Preludio suggests music that is merely an introduction to something else, but this Preludio is a magnificent work in its own right, in some ways the most striking of the seven movements of this partita. Built on the jagged, athletic opening theme, this movement is a brilliant flurry of steady sixteenth-notes, featuring complicated string-crossings and racing along its blistering course to an exciting conclusion. Among the many pleasures of this music is Bach’s use of a technique known as bariolage, the rapid alternation between the same note played on stopped and open strings, which gives this music some of it characteristic glinting brilliance. It is no surprise that this Preludio is among the most popular pieces Bach ever wrote, and those purists ready to sneer at Leopold Stokowski’s arrangement for full orchestra should know that Bach beat him to it: in 1731, ten years after writing the violin partita, Bach arranged this Preludio as the opening orchestral movement of his Cantata No. 29, “Wir danken dir, Gott.”

            Bach follows this striking beginning with a sequence of varied dances. The term Loure originally referred to a form of French bagpipe music and later came to mean a type of slow dance accompanied by the bagpipe. Bach dispenses with the bagpipe accompaniment, and in this elegant movement the violin dances gracefully by itself. Bach was scrupulously accurate in his titles, and the Gavotte en Rondeau (gavotte in the form of a rondo) conforms to both these forms: a gavotte is an old French dance in common time that begins on the third beat, while rondo form asks that one section recur throughout. This vigorous and poised movement features some wonderful writing for the violin as the original dance theme repeats in many guises. The two minuet movements are sharply contrasted: Menuet I takes its character from the powerful chordal beginning, while Menuet II, dancing gracefully, is more subdued. The Bourrée drives along its lively course, energized by a powerful upbeat, and the Gigue (an old English dance related to the jig) brings the work to a lively close.


Niggunim (Violin Sonata No. 3)


Born April 14, 1975, Tel Aviv


A note from the composer:

The Niggun is a fundamental musical concept of traditional Jewish music. According to Habbad literature, the Niggun serves as a universal language; it ascends beyond words and conveys a deeper spiritual message than words can; a Niggun sung in Yiddish will reach and affect someone who only speaks Arabic and vice versa. The Niggun may be short, but since it begins and ends on the same pitch it may be repeated over and over. In this sense, the Niggun has no beginning and no end and is eternal. Niggunim (the plural of Niggun) may be secular or religious, fast or slow, and may be sung and played in a variety of social events and circumstances.


When the 92nd Street Y and Orli and Gil Shaham approached me to write a new piece for their Jewish Melodies program, my first thought was to write a piece that would explore the music of the ten lost tribes (the Hebrew tribes that were exiled after the first temple was destroyed). Since we know very little about the whereabouts of these tribes, I decided to explore the music of various Jewish traditions from different parts of the world and how they relate to larger local musical traditions.


To my surprise, after researching Jewish music from different parts of the world, I found that there are some common musical elements to North African Jewish cantillations, Central Asian Jewish wedding songs, Klezmer music and Ashkenazy prayers. Though I did not use any existing Jewish melodies for Niggunim, the main modes and melodic gestures of the piece are drawn from these common elements. Moreover, different sections of the piece draw upon local non-Jewish musical traditions of each of these regions: for example, the second movement uses principles found in Georgian folk rhythms and harmonies, and the fourth is inspired by Macedonian dances.


Suite No. 2 for Solo Violin (World Premiere – Music Accord Commission)


Born May 26, 1938, Seattle


William Bolcom knows all about writing custom-tailored pieces for specific performers. “A principal joy for me as a composer has been to write for others what I might have been delighted to be able to perform myself,” he explains, “but the added dividend is that writing for someone else can then become a portrait of the performer. Which makes it actually more gratifying for me than writing for myself to play, a thing I rarely do nowadays.” The late Sergiu Luca (1943–2010), a violinist perhaps best known for his pioneering work in period instrument performance, was the recipient of three Bolcom works—a violin sonata, the Violin Concerto, and Suite No. 1 for Solo Violin, all reflecting Luca’s relationship with the legendary jazzman Joe Venuti. Then Bolcom heard Gil Shaham play the Violin Concerto with the Toronto Symphony and realized that “his almost opposite approach from Luca’s also worked extremely well, proving the possible success of performing a piece more than one way.”


Thus the Suite No. 2 for Solo Violin, written specifically for Gil Shaham and overall lyrical, sometimes even playful, in contrast to the dynamism of the earlier suite for Sergiu Luca. Its nine movements reflect – however distantly – those magnificent solo suites by Johann Sebastian Bach that anchor every violinist’s repertory. Given William Bolcom’s free-ranging eclecticism and virtuosity at blending disparate styles and idioms, each movement is a self-contained world. A short prelude (Morning Music) leads into a rhythmic Dancing in Place in which the violinist “drums” with left hand fingers on the fingerboard. A lament (Northern Nigun) is followed by a delectable image of Leonard Bernstein dolled up à la Fred Astaire, complete with top hat and tails: Lenny in Spats. Then comes a bow to Baroque tradition by way of a Tempo di Gavotte that nevertheless eschews standard Baroque binary form, followed by a distinctly non-Baroque Barcarolle. The somber Fuga malinconica brings a brief tragic mood to a mostly sunny suite. In the place of the usual Baroque gigue, Bolcom offers a wild Tarantella, that supercharged dance that was said to ward off death from a tarantula’s poisonous bite. The suite departs quite dramatically from Bachian models with a concluding Evening Music that recalls the opening movement, ending the work in serenity as various pairs of strings in double stops – two strings bowed simultaneously – create a duo out of a solo instrument.


Bolcom, a Seattle native, is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts and a half-dozen honorary doctorates. He retired in 2008 after thirty-five years as a professor of composition at the University of Michigan. Both pianist and composer, he has frequently performed and recorded his own work with his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris. He wrote the Suite No. 2 for Solo Violin in 2011.


—Scott Foglesong

Scott Foglesong is Chair of the Department of Musicianship and Music Theory at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47: Kreutzer


Born December 16, 1770, Bonn

Died March 26, 1827, Vienna


            Beethoven wrote this sonata, his ninth for violin and piano, in the spring of 1803. It was first performed on May 24 of that year, though Beethoven barely got it done in time: he called his copyist at 4:30 that morning to begin copying a part for him, and at the concert he and the violinist had to perform some of the music from Beethoven’s manuscript. The violinist on that occasion was George Polgreen Bridgetower (1778-1860), a virtuoso who had performed throughout Europe. Beethoven was so taken with Bridgetower’s playing that he intended to dedicate the sonata to him, and we might know this music today as the Bridgetower Sonata but for the fact that the composer and the violinist quarreled and Beethoven dedicated it instead to the French violinist Rudolph Kreutzer, whom he had met in Vienna a few years earlier. But Kreutzer found this music beyond his understanding and – ironically – never performed the sonata that bears his name.

            As soon as he completed this sonata, Beethoven set to work on his Eroica Symphony, which would occupy him for the next six months. While the Kreutzer Sonata does not engage the heroic issues of the first movement of that symphony, it has something of the Eroica’s slashing power and vast scope. Beethoven was well aware of this and warned performers that the sonata was “written in a very concertante style, quasi-concerto-like.” From the first instant, one senses that this is music conceived on a grand scale. The sonata opens with a slow introduction (the only one in Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas), a cadenza-like entrance for the violin alone. The piano makes a similarly dramatic entrance, and gradually the two instruments outline the interval of a rising half-step that will figure prominently in the first movement. At the Presto, the music explodes forward, though Beethoven provides calmer episodes along the way, including a chorale-like second subject marked dolce. The burning energy of the Presto opening, though, is never far off: the music whips along on an almost machine-gun-like patter of eight-notes, and these eventually drive the movement to its abrupt cadence.

            Relief comes in the Andante con Variazioni. The piano introduces the central theme, amiable but itself already fairly complex, and there follow four lengthy variations. The final movement – Presto – returns to the mood of the first. A simple A-major chord is the only introduction, and off the music goes. Beethoven had written this movement, a tarantella, in 1802, intending that it should be the finale of his Violin Sonata in A Major, Opus 30, No. 1. But he pulled it out and wrote a new finale for the earlier sonata, and that was a wise decision: this fiery finale would have overpowered that gentle sonata. Here, though, it becomes the perfect conclusion to one of the most powerful pieces of chamber music ever written.

-          Bach and Beethoven notes by Eric Bromberger


Gil Shaham is one of the foremost violinists of our time whose combination of flawless technique with inimitable warmth and a generosity of spirit have solidified his legacy as an American master. He is sought after throughout the world for concerto appearances with leading orchestras and conductors, and he regularly gives recitals and makes ensemble appearances on the great concert stages and at the most prestigious festivals.

In the 2012-13 season, Shaham continues his long-term exploration of “Violin Concertos of the 1930s,” a project beginning in 2010 and comprising performances at some of the most well-established concert venues with the world’s greatest orchestras. “Violin Concertos of the 1930s,” including the Barber, Berg, Stravinsky and Britten Violin Concertos, as well as the Bartók Violin Concerto No. 2 and the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, will be performed with the Orchestras of Baltimore, Boston, New York, Chicago, Montreal, San Francisco and Kansas City and abroad with the Orchestre de Paris and the NHK Symphony. In October, he released his first recording tied to the project on his label, Canary Classics, which includes the Barber, Stravinsky and Berg Violin Concertos with three leading orchestras under the baton of David Robertson. Beyond “Violin Concertos of the 1930s,” Shaham returns to other favorite repertoire this season; pieces include the Brahms concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony, the Beethoven concerto with the Boston and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, and Mozart’s “Turkish” concerto with the Pittsburgh, Toronto and Seattle Symphony Orchestras.  The season kicked off with a busy summer that included performances at Caramoor, Aspen, the Blossom Festival, Tanglewood and the Hollywood Bowl.

Shaham is also an avid recitalist and chamber musician. During recital tours in the US, Europe and Japan, Shaham explores new works including the world premiere of a solo suite written for him by William Bolcom and the recent commissioned duo works by Avner Dorman and Julian Milone with Akira Euguchi on piano.  This season also sees Shaham return to Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, bringing his unique approach to these beloved works with an eye towards releasing the complete works on CD in the coming seasons.

Last season, Shaham’s highlights included engagements in New York with three different world class orchestras including performances of the Brahms concerto at Carnegie Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Hartmann Concerto Funebre with the New York Philharmonic.  Other high profile engagements include performances with Boston, San Francisco, London, New World and Atlanta Symphonies, a Japan tour with Mariss Jansons and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestre, as well as residencies with Orchestre de Paris and Berlin. Shaham has more than two dozen concerto and solo CDs to his name, including bestsellers that have appeared on record charts in the US and abroad. These recordings have earned prestigious awards, including multiple Grammys®, a Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d’Or, and Gramophone Editor’s Choice. His recent recordings are produced on the Canary Classics label, which he founded in 2004. They comprise Haydn Violin Concertos and Mendelssohn’s Octet with Sejong Soloists; Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works with Adele Anthony, Akira Eguchi and Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León; Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and David Zinman; The Butterfly Lovers and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Singapore Symphony; Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A with pianist Yefim Bronfman and cellist Truls Mork; The Prokofiev Album and Mozart in Paris, both with Orli Shaham; and The Fauré Album with Akira Eguchi and cellist Brinton Smith.  Upcoming titles include several installments of his “Concertos of the 30s” project and Hebrew Melodies, an exploration by Gil and Orli Shaham of both traditional and modern Jewish music, including the world-premiere recording of Israeli composer Avner Dorman’s new work Niggunim.

Gil Shaham was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1971. He moved with his parents to Israel, where he began violin studies with Samuel Bernstein of the Rubin Academy of Music at the age of seven, receiving annual scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. In 1981, while studying with Haim Taub in Jerusalem, he made debuts with the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. That same year he began his studies with Dorothy DeLay and Jens Ellerman at Aspen. In 1982, after taking first prize in Israel’s Claremont Competition, he became a scholarship student at Juilliard, where he worked with DeLay and Hyo Kang. He also studied at Columbia University.

Shaham was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990, and in 2008 he received the coveted Avery Fisher Award. He plays the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius.  Shaham lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, and their three children.


Acclaimed for his extraordinary artistry, maturity and intelligence, (The New York Times) Akira Eguchi has captivated audiences and critics throughout the world as a piano soloist, chamber musician, harpsichord player and collaborative pianist.

Since making his highly acclaimed New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall in 1992, Mr. Eguchi has performed in the foremost music centers of the United States, Europe and the Far East. Praised as a "pianist of fluency and rectitude" by The New York Times, his appearances in the United States include Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the 92nd Street Y in New York City, as well as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In Europe Mr. Eguchi has performed at Musikverein in Vienna, Barbican Centre in London and Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris. Distinguished for his performances for heads of State, Mr. Eguchi has played for President Clinton presented by Isaac Stern at the White House and for the Emperor and Empress of Japan at Hamarikyu Ashahi Hall in Tokyo. Mr. Eguchi has been featured in numerous tours of the United States, France, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Slovenia, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, encompassing numerous recitals and concerts with many of those countries' foremost ensembles.

In great demand as a chamber musician, Mr. Eguchi has performed at the Aspen, Ravinia and Newport festivals in the United States, Nagano-Aspen and Pacific in Japan, the Japan Festival in London, the Verbier Festival in Switzerland and La Folle Journee in France. His radio and television credits include performances on WQXR and WNCN in New York, NPR, NHK of Japan, KBS of Korea, Radio France, BBC, PBS and NBC, among others. More than 40 of Mr. Eguchi’s disks are available from Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, Denon, Marquis Classics, Victor, IDC, BMG, Kosei publishing, Canary/Vanguard, AVEX, Octavia and NYS Classics.

Mr. Eguchi is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including the prestigious William Petchek Award and the William Schuman Prize from The Juilliard School for outstanding achievement and leadership in music; first prize at both the Gina Bachauer International Scholarship Competition and the Brahms Piano Concerto Competition at Juilliard; awards at the International Chamber Music Competition in Paris; and the Aleida Schweitzer Award for the outstanding accompanist at the International Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poland. Also active as a composer, Mr. Eguchi's works include cadenzas for the Mozart Violin Concertos K. 216 and K. 219 (commissioned by Kyoko Takezawa and Julian Rachlin) and for the Haydn Cello Concerto in C Major, which was commissioned by Ko Iwasaki. In 2003 Gershwin Piano Selections, arranged by Eguchi, was published from Zen-On. Also, a piano trio version of Faure's Apres un Reve, arranged by Eguchi, was published from International Music Company in June 2007.

Born in Tokyo, Mr. Eguchi received a degree in Music Composition from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where he subsequently served as a faculty member. Mr. Eguchi received his Master's Degree in Piano Performance from The Juilliard School. He has studied with Herbert Stessin, Samuel Sanders, Hitoshi Toyama, Shin Sato, Akira Kitamura, Ichiro Mononobe and Akiko Kanazawa.

Currently living in New York City and Tokyo, on the faculty of CUNY Brooklyn College, Akira Eguchi was recently appointed an Associate Professor at Tokyo National University of the Arts. He also is a guest professor of Senzoku-Gakuen Music College in Japan.


“Avner Dorman leaves a strong mark in the Israeli music scene here and now. His music is the most original, unique, and of the highest quality to have been played by our orchestras in the past season. Dorman is a contemporary Israeli composer that grew up in a musical family and was enchanted by all the sounds of musical space around him – of both concert and popular music. His works today demonstrate his personal statement within the realm of these influences, which serve as aesthetic models rather than a source for imitation. “ (Ora Binur, Ma’ariv Newspaper)

Praised as a “fresh, young voice, worth following” (Gramophone Magazine), Avner Dorman (born 1975) has quickly risen to become one of Israel’s most successful and renowned composers. At the age of 25, he became the youngest composer to win Israel's prestigious Prime Minister's Award for his Ellef Symphony, and that same year he was awarded the Golden Feather Award from ACUM (the Israeli Society of Composers and Publishers). Since coming to the United States, Dorman received several international awards from ASCAP, ACUM and the Asian Composers League

Dorman’s unique approach to rhythm and timbre has attracted some of the world’s leading conductors, including Zubin Mehta, Marin Alsop, Asher Fisch and Simone Young to bring his music to audiences of the Israel Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Munich Philharmonic, the Hamburg Philharmonic and the Cabrillo Music Festival, among others.

Dorman’s music achieves a rare combination of rigorous compositional construction while preserving the sense of excitement and spontaneity usually associated with Jazz, Rock or Ethnic Music. In Variations without a Theme, “Dorman dispenses with a traditional theme and instead bases his entire 20-minute work on just a few musical odds and ends—a repeated note, an ornament, a few Arab-flavored scales and a half-step interval. It’s all amazingly simple, but the end result is sophisticated music that cleverly explores both Eastern and Western sonic worlds.” (John Pitcher, Nashville Scene)

Famous for his innovative use of percussion, Dorman’s two percussion concerti are quickly becoming staples of the repertoire. Zubin Mehta led the premiere of his double percussion concerto, Spices, Perfumes, Toxins!, at the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and subsequently performed it with the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra. Mr. Mehta will presented the US premiere of this piece with the New York Philharmonic and PercaDu in March 2009. His percussion concerto, Frozen in Time, tore audiences off their seats in an overwhelming standing ovation at Hamburg Philharmonic’s world premiere, with Martin Grubinger as percussion soloist. Dorman has made significant contributions to the repertoire of other unique instruments and ensembles in his Mandolin Concerto, Piccolo Concerto, Saxophone Concerto, Concerto for Violin and Rock Band, and Boaz (for Soprano, Harp, and Two Pianos).

A pianist himself and an avid devotee of chamber music, Dorman has composed two String Quartets, a Violin Sonata (premiered in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hal), a piano and woodwind quintet titled Jerusalem Mix (commissioned by the Jerusalem International Music Festival and the Chicago Chamber Musicians), two Piano Trios, and numerous works for piano solo. In 2005 Naxos released a recording of Eliran Avni performing Dorman’s piano works to wide acclaim.

Born in 1975, Avner Dorman completed his Doctoral degree as a C.V. Starr fellow at The Juilliard School where he studied with John Corigliano. He completed his Master’s degree at Tel Aviv University where he majored in music, musicology and physics and studied with former Soviet composer Josef Bardanashvili. Dorman was a composition fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and served as composer in residence for The Israel Camerata from 2001 through 2003.

Avner Dorman’s music is exclusively published by G. Schirmer.



February 7, 2013

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