ISRAELI MANDOLIN player Avi Avital performed as part of this year’s Voice of Music Festival..
(photo credit: HARALD HOFFMAN)
There can’t be many more delightful settings than Kfar Blum for a classical music festival. Over the weekend we toed and froed between the various venues, crisscrossing the sprawling lawns of the Pastoral Hotel as we made our way between the hotel’s Symphony Hall, Bet HaAm on the kibbutz, and the comfortably appointed nearby Clore Center.
With each passing year it seems that artistic director and cellist Zvi Plesser manages to stretch the program hinterland into ever-widening domains. Families and junior music fans are definitely becoming a major target, as indicated by the delightful performance of David Grossman’s Itamar Meets a Rabbit.
The fact that veteran actor and singer Eli Gornstein not only directed the production but also played the role of the eponymous animal added much mirth and visual enjoyment to the proceedings. For all his 62 years and 1.95 meters of height, Gornstein is the nimblest and most fleet-footed of actors, and he expresses bucket loads of child-orientated empathy. The jam-packed audience – all three generations of it – was most vociferous in expressing its appreciation of the onstage antics.
Gornstein was also on hand to add his deep dulcet tones to the From the Works of Robert Schumann slot, as he provided enlightening, and deftly delivered, biographical information about the composer between renditions of a range of Schumann’s works, including Fairy Tales for Viola and Piano Sheet Music, and Fairy Tales for Piano, Clarinet and Viola. The readings were performed with aplomb and consummate pathos, with the instrumental lineup including French horn player Hezi Nir, young cellist Michal Beck, pianists Sunwook Kim, from Korea, and German-born US resident Liza Stepanova, and Germanbased Israeli clarinetist Chen Halevy.
Friday night’s Classi-Jazz spectacular, fronted by pianist- conductor Yaron Gottfried, had Bet HaAm packed to the rafters, as Gottfried’s trio of bassist Yorai Oron and drummer Rony Holan sparred with a ninepiece classical ensemble, with soprano Einat Aronstein adding stirring vocals.
One of the most entertaining items over the weekend was the Greatest Hits show, hosted by the ever-convivial Roni Porat and which included Bartók’s Romanian dances, version for mandolin and strings, with feted mandolin player Avi Avital on call, along with violinists Ori Wissner-Levy and Itamar Zorman, Germany- based viola player Avri Levitan and Swiss-born cellist Orfeo Mandozzi . The energized rendition of 20th-century Turkish composer Ulvi Cemal Erkin’s Quintet for piano and strings was one of the highlights of the whole eclectic festival.