L'Arpeggiata (Austria) Direction: Christina Pluhar The Felicja Blumenthal Festival Tel-Aviv Museum of Arts May 23 The Felicja Blumenthal Festival put on exactly the kind of concert this country so often misses: a high-spirited and unusually creative musical evening, deviating from the regular repertoire completely. "L'arpeggiata" is to-date one of Europe's finest ensembles of early music (17th century French and Italian) specializing in the art of improvisation. Joined by singer Lucilla Galeazzi, clarinetist Gianluigi Trovesi, and dancer Anna Dego, it was an evening of sheer surprise and fun. The program presented such ancient forms as Tarantella, Chiacona, Ricercar and more. All sounded fresh and crisp and reflected the performers' deep-rooted stylistic knowledge and technical command. Galeazzi's singing and presentation was a special treat, and so were clarinetist Trovesi's semi-improvisational pieces. Surprised yet enchanted, the local crowd was also somehow puzzled. On the one hand, they felt obliged to conform to the strict etiquette associated with classical concerts; on the other, parts of it were so free and glitzy one simply couldn't avoid unintentional clapping or singing along. With the meager Classic-Romantic diet the Tel-Aviv audience is accustomed to, this was a glittering ray of something fresh. Kudus should go to both the ensemble and those who brought it here. Gala concert Conductor: Yishai Steckler The Felicja Blumenthal Festival Tel-Aviv Museum of Arts May 27 Concluding an extremely successful festival, this gala concert consisted of three distinct pieces performed by different musicians. The two opening arias by Mozart were sung by the coquette Alma Moshonov, whose sweet presentation very well covered for a certain unevenness of vocal projection. The arias preceded yet another Mozart piece, the rarely-performed Quintet for Piano and Wind Instruments. Superbly performed by five local musicians, this piece was probably the concert's apex in terms of balance and technical aptitude. The central piece for the evening was Michael Haydn's Requiem; this piece substantially influenced Mozart's famous Requiem, but is far inferior to it. Although very well received by the enthusiastic audience, the reading was not free of problems. The 24-member Estonian Voces Musicales choir is indeed excellent, but was often too loud; I'm sure some further balance work could have easily fix this problem. Unfortunately, the ad-hoc orchestra was also too harsh. And, finally, none the four soloists left a special impression. Baritone Alexei Kanunikov seemed especially out of focus and needed the conductor's special attention. Despite the imperfections, however, one could not miss the sonorous, polished singing of the Estonian choir. It will be a pleasure to host this superb choir here again.