This sparkling suite for violin and piano came into being when the composer had to adapt his incidental score for a production of Shakespeare's play to the impending absence of the chamber orchestral. The result is a brilliant piece for violin and piano, which the composer quickly released in a four-movement version. There are other recordings of the chamber orchestra suite in five-movements that duplicate only three of the movements of this version. Violinist Gil Shaham and pianist André Previn are ideal partners in this brilliant performance. The four movements allow Shaham to show four sides of his violinist's personality: He skips and plays in carefree fashion in the opening movement, indulges in the grotesquery and parody of the second, gets to play the romantic in the garden scene of the third movement, and dazzles with virtuosity in the final hornpipe. Previn's part is more than mere accompaniment; the piano often has a large part of the mood of the music and his contribution is, to use a word already employed here, ideal.
The town of Palermo was illuminated and Claudio Abbado revealed his strong Sicilian roots. Viewers of this concert, broadcasted on TV all across Europe, were inspired to see the maestro so relaxed, gesticulating so emphatically.
As a life-long fan of Williams' film music, I have only recently discovered his more "serious" pieces. Like many versatile composers before him (think Korngold, Waxman, etc.), Williams is able to function in both worlds, writing rousing, effective scores and introspective, yet extremely dynamic works for concerto and orchestra.
The modern popularity of Baroque music is a striking contrast to its original reception. Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons,' written in 1725, was hardly noticed by music critics until it was revived in the early 1920s. Today it is one of the most recognized compositions of all time. Each mellifluent movement has worked its way into our common cultural language.
This disc, which features a CD-ROM encoding of a video for the "Winter" movement (both Macintosh- and PC-compatible), is a 1993 recording of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. This talented young group is bringing new popularity to its music through nontraditional means. The "Winter" video, which received its broadcast premier on The Weather Channel, gained the attention of a new audience.