A feast for the music lover

This year’s Felicja Blumental Chamber Music Festival features more nuances than ever.

A feast for the music lover  (photo credit: Courtesy)
A feast for the music lover
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The 15th annual Felicja Blumental Chamber Music Festival will take place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on April 29–May 4. Over the years, the festival has managed to find its own niche in the rich local music life. And even chamber music festivals in Israel are not lacking. In fact, it is the only Tel Aviv chamber music festival.
The very idea of the festival – to honor the memory of Felicja Blumental, one of the 20th century’s outstanding pianists – brings a special touch to the music event, which was founded by the pianist’s daughter, soprano Annette Celine, who serves as the festival’s artistic director.
“The festival was born out of love of piano and of woman’s singing,” says executive director Avigail Arnheim. “This is what has defined its musical character over the years. We always try to treat our audiences to varied and not trivial programs. Vocal music, Baroque, Israeli artists and, recently, guitar music – this all comes from Annette Celine’s personal preferences. Here, during the six days of the festival, our listeners can enjoy 50 nuances of piano, 50 nuances of guitar, 50 of Baroque, as well as music documentaries and programs for the whole family. This is a real feast for a music lover.”
As always, the festival hosts its old friends and those who are new to Blumental. The major star is Hollywood actor John Malkovich, who brings his long-awaited musical drama Infernal Comedy – Confessions of a Serial Killer . Arnheim is quick to add, “This actually is not our production; it is shared with us by the Eilat Chamber Music Festival,” but still, the festival has a lot to offer.
Among those returning to the festival is the Tal Grotehuysen piano duo, together with the Leipziger String Quartet in an all- Mendelssohn program, making its Israeli premiere. The Clematis Baroque Ensemble from Belgium also returns to the festival after its successful 2011 appearance. With soprano Mariana Flores and counter-tenor Paulin Buendgen, the ensemble will perform works by Bach, Monteverdi, Marini, Cavalli, Castelo and others.
Among the new faces is Denis Azabagic, an American guitarist of Serbian origin, a prize winner in 24 international guitar competitions, who will present a program featuring music from all over the world – from the Balkans to South America, including a classical repertoire.
Among non-classical artists are vocalist Claudia Akuna of Chile, who will appear in a jazz program with Avi Leibovich and The Orchestra; and Amparo Gonzalez, a soprano from Argentina. The latter, together with the Israeli Pitango Ensemble, will perform excerpts from Astor Piazzola’s chamber opera Maria de Buenos Aires .
“The piece has not been performed in Israel for a long time – if at all,” says Arnheim. “Those who tried to produce the entire opera say that it is not interesting enough to hold an evening, so we decided to use the most captivating parts.”
Back to classics, The Sirens vocal ensemble directed by Shosh Lagil will open the festival with a program of Israeli classical songs, while soprano Alla Vassilevitzky will appear in an evening of arias with the Israel Chamber Orchestra under Yuval Zorn.
In the same concert, pianist Ilan Levin will perform Mozart’s piano concerto, while another piano program features Tomer Lev and The MultiPiano Ensemble. The latter will perform classical pieces for piano for five, six and eight hands.
Guitar Week has become part of the festival, which is directed by Yehuda Shrayer and features cellist Micha Haran, among other artists. Chorole, an Israeli Brazilian ensemble, offers a program for children, “which is sheer fun,” adds Arnheim.
Music documentaries have always been an important part of the festival programs. “This year, The Jerusalem Music Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Their archives keep priceless videos, which were taken during master classes of such renowned musicians as Brendel, Rubinstein, Casals and Stern. Journalist Yossi Schiffman edited the materials, and the result will be screened during three days of the festival.” says Arnheim.For the detailed program: www.blumentalfestival.com. Reservations at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, (03) 607-7020