In the current crowded field of first-rate young violinists--Midori, Maxim Vengerov, Joshua Bell, and Anne-Sophie Mutter come to mind--Gil Shaham is a standout. He can already pack a hall, and with his nearly flawless technique and boyish magnetism, he can galvanize everyone in it. He seems like a natural successor to Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman, sharing their skill at establishing rapport with musicians and listeners alike. Though still under 30, the Urbana native has been on the concert circuit for almost two decades; he began intensive study of the violin in Israel at age seven, and only three years later made his professional debut with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. These days he gives close to 200 concerts a year and keeps a hectic recording schedule, but this workload doesn't seem to have put a dent in his kinetic playing or his enthusiasm. Shaham tends to stick to romantic fare--such as the concertos of Sibelius, Paganini, Bruch, and Tchaikovsky--when he performs with an orchestra. But in chamber recitals like this one, where he'll be accompanied by Japanese pianist Akira Eguchi, he's shown considerable curiosity about other corners of the repertoire. The eclectic program should allow him to display his showmanship as well as his musicianship: the entire second half consists of pieces meant to thrill, from Bartok's galloping Rhapsody no. 2 to Copland's rarely heard Ukelele Serenade to arrangements of waltzes from Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier and a fantasy on Bizet's Carmen. Opening the concert are Bach's Sonata no. 3 in E and Beethoven's Sonata no. 7. Wednesday, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; 800-223-7114 or 312-294-3000. TED SHEN
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Boyd Hagen.