Classical review: 24 Hours Pianos

Eleven concerts with 22 musicians and eight films are an ambitious undertaking, intended to attract capacity audiences over a period of 24 hours.

By URY EPPSTEIN
September 16, 2014 22:34
1 minute read.
Piano

Piano. (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)

 
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The outstanding musical event in Jerusalem last week was entitled “24 Hours Pianos.”

Eleven concerts with 22 musicians and eight films are an ambitious undertaking, intended to attract capacity audiences over a period of 24 hours. These indeed filled the hall in the opening and closing concerts.

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Whether they also made the organizers’ wishful thinking come true in the sleepier hours of the night can be known only to those who called their night a day at these concerts.

The opening concert presented Duo Amal (“hope” in Arabic) of Jerusalem-born Yaron Kohlberg and Nazareth-born Bishara Haroni. The pianists astonished the audience by their amazing mutual attentiveness and perfect coordination, as though they were engaging in a friendly dialogue, capturing the fast movements’ joie de vivre and the slow one’s lyricism in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos.

In Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos, the duo admirably highlighted the work’s tongue-in-cheek wit and humor and emphasized the instrument’s percussive, as well as melodic, capacity. The highly demanding virtuoso challenges of both pieces were met with ease and polished skill. Duo Amal indeed inspired hope that they might serve as a model for the harmonious collaboration of the two nations’ politicians.

The Sinfonietta Be’er Sheva, conducted by Yoni Farhi, surprised the Jerusalem audience by demonstrating that in the far South, too, there is an orchestra no less competent than in the country’s non-peripheral areas.

In his triple capacity as pianist, conductor and pedagogue, veteran musician Arieh Vardi appeared in the closing concert with his American-born disciple Claire Huang-ci, of Chinese descent, and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Together they performed Bach’s Concerto for Two Pianos BV 1060 with perfect coordination. As soloist, Vardi presented Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, where the first movement’s solo cadenza was particularly impressive.

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Huang-ci, 24, emerged as a veritable bombshell of energy, explosive expression and brilliant virtuosity. Yet she also exhibited a fascinating, subtle and delicate caressing of the lyrical passages in Prokofiev’s extremely tricky Piano Concerto No. 3. This brought the 24 piano hours to their dynamic conclusion.

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