Theme of variation

This year’s Kol Hamusica Festival imbues traditional fare with some innovative flair.

Nurit Galron and Gil Shochat 521 (photo credit: Elan Bassur)
Nurit Galron and Gil Shochat 521
(photo credit: Elan Bassur)
They say that a new broom sweeps clean, but after taking over the reins of the Kol Hamusica Festival at Kfar Blum, artistic director cellist Zvi Plesser says he is happy to maintain the basic elements of the classical music gathering, along with a number of his own innovations.
“It is a great honor to be chosen to be the artistic director, to be in a position to implement some of my own ideas and some of the things that interest me and to try to interest other people in them,” he notes, adding that he is a firm believer in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ethos.
“The idea was to create some sort of prism through which we could look.
When I was appointed [artistic director], I realized I didn’t want to do something entirely new. This is festival with a long tradition and a very loyal following and lots of wonderful things. My job is to sustain those things and to consolidate them.”
Plesser is no newcomer to the festival, having performed in various concerts at Kfar Blum over the years.
Patrons of this year’s event, which takes place July 25-30, will encounter a highly varied program, with works by such staple composers as Bach, Mahler and Liszt sharing the agenda with compositions by 63-year-old Georgia-born Israeli Iosif Bardanashvili – including works written for Hanoch Levin plays – and a medley of orchestrated songs by former Kaveret pop group member Yoni Rechter.
As each year, there will also be a slot for junior patrons and their families, with an outdoor show by Rechter’s Kaveret colleague Danny Sanderson and a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.
Plesser says he was looking to tweak the festival content rather than find and replace. “I quickly arrived at the conclusion that I wanted to have a festival whose theme is variation or metamorphosis. I took a lot of works that have two versions, and there are concerts with different variations. That provided me with the inspiration I needed, and that set me on the way to compiling the festival program.”
One such dual program comprises concert 4 (July 26 at 11 a.m.) and concert 5 (July 27 at 5 p.m.). The former, which features Brahms’s Sonata for Two Pianos in F Minor which is, in fact, an arrangement of the Brahms Quintet in F Minor op. 34, is followed by Ravel’s Kaddish and Brahms’s Sextet in B Flat Major op. 18, arranged by Theodore Kirchner.
The July 27 concert includes Brahms’s Quintet in F Minor, an arrangement of Ravel’s Kaddish, for cello and string ensemble by 84-yearold Israeli composer Zvi Avni and, again, Brahms’s Sextet in B Flat Major.
In addition to different interpretations of the same or rearranged pieces, the program also features works from a very wide spectrum of epochs and cultures.
Plesser says that among all the colors, styles and energies, he was keen to maintain the tradition of ensuring that local artistic endeavors were well represented at the festival. “There is the opera Dybbuk by Ofer Ben-Amos, which I was very eager to have its premiere at the festival. It is a chamber format opera that is very suitable for the festival. I found the work intriguing in terms of the use of the instrumentalists, actually a particular instrumentalist. The clarinet player has an actual role in the opera as part of the action. There are also several works by Bardanashvili, including his [Walking on a Rope] work for four celli [in the first concert at the festival]. The same work will be performed by a sextet in the last concert of the festival.”
There is a large number of high-quality instrumentalists on call throughout the program, including the celebrated Ensemble Meitar, which will play new Israeli works, and there is the Sirens Ensemble that will participate in the Hanoch Levin concert.
“One of the most intriguing items of the festival, for me, is the concert with Janacek’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared (July 28 at 3 p.m.). This is a special arrangement for singers and piano by Ze’ev Steinberg, who died a month ago [at the age of 92]. It will be performed for the first time. It is an intricate staged production.
Janacek left behind more than 700 letters, of which some refer to his secret lover who was the muse for this work. In the first part, [actor] Eli Gornstein will read from these letters. I think that will help to set the scene and convey the content and spirit of the work to the audience.”
Another interesting slot in the program is the Kaleidoscope event in which three works – Mozart’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in G Minor, Beethoven’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in A Major and Mozart’s Duet in B Flat Major – will be played simultaneously in three rooms at the Clore Center, where the audience can move among the three locations. There will also be open rehearsals that will enable the public to witness some of the creative process before they catch an earful of the final product.
As he says, Plesser is looking to break new ground at Kfar Blum but without relinquishing any of the festival’s impressive achievements to date.
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