One of Israel’s leading music ensembles, the Aviv Quartet, opens its new season on chamber concerts at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
“As they say in Hebrew, I keep dancing at several weddings at the same time,” says Israeli violinist Sergey Ostrovsky, the founding member of the Aviv Quartet, on Israeli the phone from his home in Geneva. “I play solo with orchestras and in recitals, I perform chamber music, I teach at Haute ecole de musique in Geneva, I serve as guest concert master for various orchestras, such the BBC Orchestra in Manchester, and I also conduct. Next year, I will lead orchestras in Georgia, Armenia and Russia, as well as appear in Israel with the Sinfonietta Tallinn orchestra from Estonia. Young Israeli soloists will participate in the latter concert.”
After many changes over the years, Ostrovsky is the only member of the original Aviv Quartet ensemble. He also is the oldest and the most experienced. The current ensemble includes violinist Philippe Villafranca, violist Noemie Bialobroda (both French) and Israeli cellist Daniel Mitnitsky.
“This will be Aviv’s 20th season,” says Ostrovsky, or more precisely, the 19th. At first we called our quartet Johannes, in memory of Brahms, but then have changed it to Aviv.
Granted, in Israel everything is named Aviv – both matza and dry cleaners – but we thought that ‘Aviv’ suited us to perfection: Aviv means ‘the spring season’ in Hebrew, while in English the word ‘spring’ has additional meanings, such a ‘source’ or ‘brook,’ with youth, new beginnings and freshness being the immediate connotations. And, amazingly, this name keeps justifying itself, since lately new members have replaced the players who for various reasons had left the ensemble,” he says.
“In fact, this is the third version of Aviv, and we have already performed in Israel. Now that we all live in Europe, we can really rehearse and work on our new programs. Again, this is not easy. After many successful performances of Aviv at major venues, we have to start everything from the beginning. But, symbolically enough, our family immigrated in Israel 25 years ago, and just as our parents had to start a new life and to re-establish themselves in the new country, so do we, the new Aviv Quartet. But despite the difficulties, I am very positive and optimistic. The new members are full of youthful energy and ambition. But this is not simple, far from it. With violinist Evgenia Epstein we played together for 18 years and we enjoyed the ultimate understanding, as if playing by one hand,” he says.
Speaking about programming, Ostrovsky says that he always tries to play pieces that are new not only for the young members of Aviv but also for him.
“I don’t want to tell them how we played this or that piece in the past because those people are not here anymore. This is a problem of several ensembles that which undergo significant changes – the rendition loses its freshness, stops being told in the first person, so to speak. This is why our Israel concert features Haydn’s Quartet Op. 20 No.
5, which was not performed by the old Aviv, but also Quartet No. 5 in B flat Major Op. 92 by Shostakovich. The latter piece was not only performed but also recorded by Aviv. I believe that it is important to introduce this powerful and regretfully not-so-often played piece to my younger colleagues. The piece, which was written in 1948-49, when the composer fell in disgrace and echoes his 10th Symphony, is Shostakovich at his best. As for Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet K. 581, it is always a winner. The suggestion came from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and I gladly accepted it.
We are also happy to perform with clarinet player Eli Even. I have very special feelings about this piece. It was the first piece performed by our Johannes Quartet, together with our friend Roi Mezare, who is now a member of the Pittsburgh Orchestra,” he explains.
The other concert of Aviv on (October 26) features Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 18 No. 4 and Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major.
“It sounds like our repertoire will also change.
For example, when the ensemble included two or more Russian-born members, Shostakovich quite naturally was among the quartet’s profile composers. Now that two members are French, it is less so, yet it gives space to other composers, who better suit the ensemble’s energies, such as Haydn or Beethoven,” he says.
In addition to the concerts in Tel Aviv, the quartet will perform in Kiryat Ti’von on October 20) and at Kibbutz Na’an on October 27.
“I performed in Kiryat Tiv’on more than 10 times – as an ensemble member and in recitals, and I love it; while at Na’an we will play for the first time. These are small places, and the audiences are simply wonderful. People come to really enjoy the music.”The Aviv Quartet will perform on October 22 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Recanati Hall; (03) 607-7070