Beethoven and Brahms , Violin Concertos

Available on CD and digital download

Eric Jacobsen Conductor

The Knights

Gil Shaham violin

Gil Shaham partners for this recording with Brooklyn-based The Knights, conducted by Eric Jacobsen, musicians with whom he feels fortunate to collaborate with on a regular basis. The Knights believe that having an enormous amount of fun is the best way of accomplishing serious musical work, so it's only natural that the World's happiest orchestra teams up with the world's happiest violinist!

Brothers and Knights Artistic Directors Colin and Eric Jacobsen are in the business of disseminating musical pleasure, add Gil Shaham, and musical utopia beckons!

This is Gil Shaham's first solo release in almost 5 years, and his first recording of the Beethoven violin concerto, arguably the most anticipated addition to his recorded oeuvre. Shaham was captivated growing up listening to David Oistrakh's recording of the Beethoven over and over again; and it continues to inspire awe in him. Despite the 1000's of times he played the Beethoven live in concert, the whole emotional journey is as fresh here on this recording as if he was playing it for the first time. In his own words "If there is ever music which changes and effects the soul, this is it."

The Brahms concerto was one of the last recordings Shaham made as a DG artist, a much lauded live performance with Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. This recording is all together a different affair, bringing together an artistic approach and partnership bordering on the intimacy in chamber music making —watching, listening, responding— but a much larger-scale masterpiece. Shaham's swift tempo in the first movement of the Brahms, facilitates the wildest flight of virtuoso deftness, the Boston Musical Intelligencer observing in a performance of the Brahms at Tanglewood in 2019, days before this recording took place, that Shaham 'exercised sovereign command in both the virtuosic and the lyrical passages, sort of going back and forth between being a gymnast and a gentleman, with cleanly focused, gleaming tone."
This is Gil Shaham's second recording with The Knights, the first in 2016 resulted in the Grammy nominated recording of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 (CC-16), part of Shaham's 1930s Violin Concertos project.

Booklet annotations are penned by the celebrated author and academic Styra Avins who sheds an interesting perspective the role Beethoven and his Violin Concerto played in Brahms composing his only concerto for the instrument and the vital role Joseph Joachim played in both concertos.

Gil Shaham Guides Jared Bowen from WGBH through the Beethoven And Brahms Violin Concerto In His Recording With The Knights ... and Jared is left lost for words.

''If there is one word that conveys violinist Gil Shaham's artistry and personality – it's warmth. A meltingly beautiful warm tone from his violin, equally matched by his sweet disposition. Shaham joined "City Lights" host Lois Reitzes to talk about his new recording on the Canary Classics label. His new album is with conductor Eric Jacobson and the Brooklyn-based ensemble, The Knights. It features two warhorses – the violin concertos of Beethoven and Brahms.''


As an accompaniment to his IDAGIO-GBH performance available on demand with The Knights, violinist Gil Shaham reveals deeply embedded musical and narrative connections between two foundational concertos.

One of them, the singular Violin Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven, embodies all of the epochal tension the composer's music represents, from Apollonian Classicism to emotion-driven Romanticism. And, in a newly conceived chamber ensemble arrangement, it's also the centerpiece of a concert that streams on IDAGIO in the first co-production of the German classical music service and GBH Music in a series called Performance Reimagined.


Violinist Gil Shaham and Eric Jacobsen, Co-Artistic Director of The Knights, discuss their new CD: "Beethoven & Brahms Violin Concertos"

The Violin Channel recently sat down with the pair to discuss working together on Gil's first solo release in almost five years and his first recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto.

The Violin Channel

Together, Shaham and The Knights present two of the best-known violin concertos in the classical repertoire, those by Beethoven and Brahms, and they make them seem new all over again.

When Shaham enters with the violin, he does so with a flourish. His musicianship is impeccable, a violin virtuoso of the highest order. More important, Shaham practically attacks the score, imbuing it with vigor and enthusiasm, yet losing nothing of the music's inherent lyrical qualities. Along with the interpretation by Jascha Heifetz, Shaham's performance is among the most exciting I've ever heard on record. Understand, however, that there are more subtle, more refined, more cultivated recordings available from the likes of Itzhak Perlman (EMI) and others. But none of them tops this new release from Gil Shaham for total listener involvement and satisfaction.

Classical Candor

Gil Shaham and The Knights: the Music that Grows from Friendship

When Gil Shaham decided to record the Beethoven and Brahms violin concertos with the Brooklyn-based orchestra called The Knights, he wasn't too surprised that the first rehearsal was more of a chamber music party in the conductor's living room. Shaham sat in a circle with conductor Eric Jacobsen and the orchestra's section leaders, and they read through the concertos together.

That's just how The Knights do things.

The high point, for me, is the slow movement of the Brahms Concerto, where The Knights under Eric Jacobsen draw a slim but warmly present bass line and, beyond a fine oboe solo (Gustav Highstein), Gil Shaham starts to spin the sweetest narrative. This romantic sensibility is telling but never overstated, just as in the outer movements Shaham and his accomplices opt for a balletic approach to music that often treads heavily in hobnail boots.


'These two performances showcase a group of instrumentalists whose collective musicianship is electrifying: full of just the right combination of wonder, play, and discovery this much-loved repertoire needs in order to sound fresh and truly come to life. Shaham's rapport with The Knights is total, as evidenced by their unanimity of articulations and overall feel ... In any normal Beethoven recording, Shaham's lilting account of the last movement's minore episodes and his flexible delineation of the phrases leading into the coda would be enough to carry the day. Here, though, the performance includes something even more astonishing, in the form of a wild cadenza (written by Shaham) for soloist, horns, and timpani that simply must be heard to be believed...'

Arts Fuse