Classical Review: Yehezkel Braun

Jerusalem Music Center, January 5.

ISRAELI COMPOSER Yehezkel Braun 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of Dana Shimoni)
ISRAELI COMPOSER Yehezkel Braun 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of Dana Shimoni)
To celebrate Israeli composer Yehezkel Braun’s 90th birthday, a retrospective selection of his chamber music and vocal works was presented at the Jerusalem Music Center.
The most recent piece was his Sonata for Mandolin and Guitar (2004). Despite the two instruments’ similar sonorities, the individual character of each was distinctly highlighted by responsorial textures and by rhythmically contrasting simultaneous patterns. Unconventional though this instrument combination is, the result was a listener-friendly collaboration.
The earliest of the presented works was Calls of Wild Fowl (1999), a setting of poems by Alkman, a 7th- century Greek poet, to music.
Though Brauns’ melodic and harmonic progressions sound unpredictable, they never are deliberate, contrived or artificial to ostentatiously demonstrate originality or modernism for their own sake. Contrasts of high and low registers or soft and strong volumes create continuous tension, spiced occasionally with comic relief provided by subtle, discreet humor. Soprano Tehila Nini-Goldstein with members of the Amber Trio presented a remarkably impressive rendition of the work.
In his Sonata for Double-Bass and Piano (2003), Braun strayed from convention by focusing not only on the instrument’s low register, as usual, but also on its higher notes, revealing a sonority not commonly associated with this instrument. The De Profundis movement’s somber ambiance was conveyed not so much by the instrument’s low sounds, as could be expected, but by slow-paced, solemn rhythms. Ron Merhavi and pianist Ariel Helevy captured the work’s demanding characteristics with sensitivity and noteworthy competence.
For all the musicians, too many to be listed here, this performance was visibly and audibly a labor of love.
Braun seemed moved by this display of appreciation and affection. One looks forward now with expectation to the next fruits of his creativity.