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-- Joe Banno

Gil and Orli Shaham

Siblings Gil and Orli Shaham presented a most winsome violin-and-piano recital Friday at the Music Center at Strathmore. With an appealing blend of power and subtlety, the pair gave us unhackneyed works of Mozart, Faur¿, Szymanowski, Bartok and Prokofiev. Their intimacy is evident everywhere; Gil Shaham plays with his elbow only inches from his sister's shoulder, they manage the most delicate gearshifts with barely a glance, and at times they play so softly as to be two children whispering secrets to each other.

Despite all that, they are not perfectly matched temperamentally. Orli Shaham is a fastidious player, with sparkling-clean trills and ornaments, but she is more of a foil to Gil's turbocharged, aggressive virtuosity than an agonist. The highest levels of artistry come from strong-willed individuals forging something greater than the sum of the parts. Here, everything was about each making way for the other, sometimes on a microscopic level. Engrossing in its way, and done with great suavity. But the meaty Bartok and Prokofiev works sounded as smooth and polite as the Faur¿ Sicilienne, every hair in place, every note cleanly heard. This approach, so charming in the opening Mozart sonata, varied little in the works that followed. A little more fire and grit would have been still more welcome.

-- Robert Battey

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