Concert review: Paganini of Mandolin

Beersheba Conservatory, Beersheba, April 13

By MAX STERN
April 15, 2015 21:36
1 minute read.
Sultan’s Pool

A concert finale in Sultan’s Pool, outside the Old City walls in Jerusalem.. (photo credit: TOURISM MINISTRY)

Monday night’s local fundraiser for the Beersheba Conservatory of Music’s sholarship fund was a marvelous demonstration of the caliber of Israel’s home-grown musical talent.

The accomplished soloists were two former students: Shmuel Elbaz, mandolin, who lives in Givon-Bar, a town just outside the city; and Asaf Kleinman, piano, who currently resides in Graz, Austria.

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The concert was marvelous. Elbaz and Kleinman played with sensitivity, understanding and élan four transcribed violin sonatas by Mozart (K 296, 300, 301, 305), along with transcriptions of Hungarian Folk Dances by Leo Weiner (an underplayed masterpiece, full of gypsy- like filigree for the mandolin) and Bartok’s popular Romanian Dances.

The trick was that for these performances, the mandolin pick replaced the violinist’s bow. Long notes required tremolo, and trills and passage work precise coordination.

At one point Kleinman played solo, giving warm, supple and elegant utterance to Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 in F minor.

The highlight of their program was borrowed from the world of master violinists: Saint-Saens’ Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso.

Elbaz tackled this virtuoso showpiece with so much passion and fury that the top string on his mandolin popped at the high point of a phrase, as was wont to happen to the legendary Paganini’s violin. Unperturbed, Elbaz continued to the end, drawing a well-deserved standing ovation.


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