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(photo credit: )
Noam Buchman - Flute
Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra
The Israel Festival's opening concert sought to conquer the people for a change, with a selection of Israeli songs, rather than present its usual highbrow classic program.
Most of the songs were well-known and well-loved, but some, such as Matti Caspi's "Eliezer Ben-Yehuda," were also of the newer, more sophisticated kind. There was something to satisfy every taste.
The event's attraction was flutist Noam Buchman, who played the solos of all the songs. His pure, silvery sound and polished effortless technique is a pure delight, no matter what he happens to be playing. With his consummate artistry he consistently steers clear of schmaltz, even in the most sentimental pieces.
Many arrangements were supplied by Shimon Cohen, the maestro of Isra
eli kitsch. But there were, mercifully, also some less conventional ones, such as Oded Zehavi's "Ein Gedi."
Doron Salomon, conducting the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, had to remind himself from time to time that he was not conducting a Tchai
kovsky symphony. On the whole, though, he produ
ced an animated, colorful sound and a lively rendition.
The Ankor children's choir, conducted by Dafna Ben-Yohanan sounded well-rehearsed, accurate and melancholy.
The audience responded with the standard rhythmic clapping until it got its encore. Instead of excitement, there was much nostalgia.
Targ Music Center
Some of the Targ Music Center's regular Saturday matinees have been adopted into the Israel Festival program, in commemoration of pianist Bracha Eden, one of the Center's founders and directors.
This concert series was opened by Tami Kanazawa and Yuval Admoni's duo pianists recital. The first performance in this program was Yehezkel Braun's "Six Bagatelles." These are energetic, rhythmically intricate miniatures, spiced with sharp accents. They sounded fresh, lively, exciting and youthful - despite this chronological paradox. The composer, present in the audience, was obviously pleased with the rendition, in spite of some minor rhythmic inaccuracies. Braun's new work is a welcome and valuable enrichment of the Israeli two-piano repertoire.
Liszt's symphonic poem "Les Preludes," in his own, practically unknown arrangement for four-hand-piano, was a surprising revelation. This piano version, in Kanazawa-Admoni's rendition, almost made one feel like hearing the work's full orchestral sound.
The duo performed Rachmaninov's "Suite Nr. 2" for two pianos and Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody Nr. 2" in a two-piano-arrangement with brilliant, sparkling virtuosity and formidable split-second coordination.
Editta Braun Dance
Five heaps of red flakes on a dimly lit foggy stage almost hide the nearly naked female bodies laying on their back in "Luvos/vol.2" by Austrian choreographer Editta Braun. At first, one can only detect five pairs of feet swaying in all directions. Then legs, torsos, and wiggly buttocks take their turns, etc. As time passes, that vessel looks emptier.
Unfortunately, the company that was chosen to open the dance section of the Israel Festival in Jeru
salem provided a scanty workshop exercise that got blown out of proportion. In the written program, there was a brave attempt to tie this "formula" dance to cutting edge contemporary dance manifestations. In fact, this conservative product goes around a single axis of body perception that is as dated as it is uninspired.
No amount of lighting changes - and there were plenty of those - could uplift this product that took it upon itself to prove that there are dozens of ways to show parts of the body and make them look like detached body parts.
The overt attention to mere visual values over substance is one of several reasons why this opening act was so disappointing.
Liquid Loft Company (Austria)
This dance is about the diet of low value cultural food that we consume routinely, which can never really satisfy the unrest within. It starts with a morsel of sushi as a metaphor.
A white low platform on center stage serves as an arena on which the 12 acts of "Running Sushi" are enacted in an order chosen by 12 audience members who pick sushi off a plate. This chance order is already a tongue in cheek homage to American choreographer Merce Cunningham, who used a similar technique based on the Chinese book of chance, the I Ching, half a century ago.
Choreographer Chris Haring, dancers Stephanie Cumming and Johnny Schoofs, Thomas Jelinek the dramaturge and sound designers Glim/Andreas Berger, are all equal contributors to this sharp social commentary.
Amazingly, the dancers' movement phrases tightly synched with sound effects, create a most sophisticated picture with the simplest stage means. This picture sums up all of the fleeting images evoked by the dancers, built layer after layer in each of the 12 short scenes that are full to the brim with hinted comments about contemporary life. It was a tasty, most witty, and rather humorous.