Brahms can hardly complain of neglect in Israel. His works are performed frequently throughout the year. This, of course, is no reason not to include his music in the Israel Festival. Two all-Brahms programs were presented this year, and both were a joy.
An extraordinary musical experience was provided by Kirill Gerstein in the "Piano Concerto Nr. 1". It was a gripping performance from beginning to end. One came away with the feeling that nothing was missing - not a single note or phrase could have been improved upon.
The utmost sensitivity was displayed in the soft passages of the opening notes, and there were electrifying, decisive eruptions in the forceful passages that never sounded too aggressive. Delicate nuances of dynamics were abundant. Listening to this enormously gifted young musician, one became convinced that maturity isn't necessarily a matter of age.
There was much appealing coordination and mutual attentiveness in violinist Fanny Chamagiran and cellist Pieter Wispelway's performance of the "Double Concerto". Wispelway displayed a warm, sonorous cello sound and injected refreshing energies, while Chamagirand placed emphasis on a meticulously polished, clear and pure violin tone. Her aesthetic and more restrained approach contributed an agreeable sense of balance to the temperamental differences of the twosome.
The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marco Zambelli, sounded boisterous in the "Academic Festival Overture," a piece that Brahms himself considered more of a musical joke than a solemn, pompous affair.