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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Among the Romantics' most outstanding oratorios and also arguably the work in which the composer identifies most closely with his Jewish origins, Mendelssohn's "Elijah" was performed by the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir with the Stuttgart Christian Academy Choir and Orchestra, in a concert conducted by Monica Meira Vasquez.
It was a splendid performance. The combined choirs and orchestra were well-rehearsed and produced a cohesive sound. They performed with liveliness, energy and discernible commitment, and with unusually solid enunciation.
As Elijah, bass-baritone Siegfried Laukner combined forceful expression with tender lyricism in the profoundly moving lament, "It is enough." Soprano Annemarie Kiuntke sounded bright, innocent and lovely as Youth.
Alto Sonia Maria Hoeflerhe's Queen was frighteningly evil, while "The Angels' Trio," performed by Kiuntke, Lydia Zborscht and Brigitte Schweizer, offered some of the performance's most enchanting moments. The overwhelming final chorus suggestively brought to life the "fiery chariot going up in a whirlwind to heaven."
Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival
A Weekend from the Light
to the Serious
September 8 and 9
For its weekend matinee, the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival offered a light menu.
The weightiest work, relatively speaking, was Britten's "Six Metamorphoses After Ovid." The oboe, only rarely heard in a solo performance, was a pure pleasure as played by Alex Klein.
A performance of Mozart's Piano Quartet K. 493 was more easygoing than the work itself. Pianist Shai Wosner's superficial rendition, swallowed notes, breathless phrasing and exaggerated tempo made it hard for his partners - violinist Antje Weithaas, violist Ori Kam and cellist Christian Poltera - to keep up.
Shostakovich's "Concertino for Two Pianos" presented the composer in one of his rare playful moods, providing pianists Bishara Harouny and Matan Porat a welcome opportunity to share a bit of fun with the audience.
On Galina Ustvolskaya's "Dona Nobis Pacem," the juxtaposition of Guy Eshed's overpowering tuba and Avital Handler's shrieking piccolo with Wosner's bangings on the piano amounted to a musical joke, even if the composer's impressive title suggests she had much higher ambitions for the piece.
In Shostakovich's "Seven Romances on Verses by Alexander Blok," soprano Angela Denoke suggestively captured the changing moods within the songs. Her expressive performance was dramatic when required and effectively delivered. The German songstress showed off her sense of humor with Schoenberg's "Cabaret Songs," but a bit less theatricality would have made the presentation even more appealing.