Violinist Ora Shiran boasts impressive credentials: concertmaster of the Julliard Orchestra and soloist with the Israeli Chamber Ensemble. Yesterday afternoon at the Phillips Collection she demonstrated, above all, that she is a first-rate communicator.
Her performances of works by J.S. Bach, Beethoven and Stravinsky were rewarding listening experiences -- showcases of technical virtuosity and intellectual revelation. Shiran was accompanied by pianist-composer George Calusdian, whose Fantasy for Violin and Piano received its Washington premiere.
Calusdian's work, written in 1982 for Shiran, surprised and delighted the appreciative listeners. The composer bowed twice, acknowledging the audience's vigorous, sustained applause. The music is assertive, often aggressive; rhythmically insistent and boldly colorful. It is a worthy work for any violinist's repertoire, challenging but accessible. It deserves many future performances.
Shiran opened with Bach's Chaconne for violin alone. Her tone rich and full-bodied, her phrasing masterly and insightful, she developed the work's elegant melodic and contrapuntal relationships with grace and clarity.
The performance of the three movements of Beethoven's Sonata in A Minor was precise, but the highlight of Shiran and Calusdian's collaboration, was their breathtaking reading of Stravinsky's Divertimento. The interplay between violinist and pianist served as a dramatic focus for the composer's ideas. It was a disciplined yet headstrong and heartfelt performance from start to finish. The recital's only disappointment: no well-deserved encore.