Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival
Off the Beaten Track
One owes gratitude to the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival for going off the beaten track by presenting an unjustifiably neglected composer, Leos Janacek.
The two performed works display his immense versatility. His suite for wind sextet "Youth," composed at the age of 70, ingeniously combines youthful freshness with maturity of expression, just as it also makes a modernist style compatible with the Romantic tradition. He also handles the contrasting sonorities of the six instruments with consummate skill. The excellent performance was achieved with a thorough command of the six instruments and perfect mutual attentiveness.
Janacek's string quartet "Intimate Letters" expresses intense emotion without a trace of sentimentality. What often comes as a surprise is a sudden, unexpected calm between tempestuous, impassioned and excited passages. The Erlenbusch Quartet (Michael Barenboim, Petra Schwieger, Madeleine Carruzzo, Tim Park) impressively captured the incessantly changing moods of the work.
Likewise off the beaten track, though on a more conventional level, the program featured Schumann in some of his less frequently performed works. In his "Andante and Variations" for two pianos, two cellos and horn, pianists David Kadouch and Bishara Haroumi emerged as sensitive, forceful musical personalities.
"Maerchenbilder" for viola and piano were performed faithfully in Schumann's brand of Romanticism by Nobuko Imai and Haroumi.
High as the expectations of Mozart's String Quintet in G minor were, they turned out to be the evening's disappointment. The playing was elegant and nonchalant - too much so, in fact. There was nothing left of the profound melancholy and tragic mood that pervades this moving work, resulting in a lukewarm performance.