CONCERT REVIEW: Latino, The Masonic Mozart

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra went Latin American in its Light Classical Series last week.

Jerusalem Theater
February 11
The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra went Latin American in its Light Classical Series last week.
In his Las 4 Estaciones Portenas, the inevitable Piazzola proved that he, too, like Vivaldi and Haydn before him, is capable of composing the four seasons. But unlike his European predecessors, the Latin American composer made use of a tango quartet – The Pitango Quartet, in this performance – consisting of bandoneon, violin, double bass and piano, to take part in the fun, with somewhat unusual sonorities that contribute to the piece’s attraction value.
All in all, it sounded as though spending four seasons in Latin America seems to be quite an amusing experience. However, the heavy and boisterous orchestration of Piazzola’s piece appeared to take his music too seriously.
When Carlos Gardel’s most popular tango, La Cumparsita, was finally played just before the intermission, the audience’s happiness knew no bounds.
In Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, Rinat Goldmann displayed a bright, clear soprano, though somewhat weak in the lower register. Her voice may possibly sound to better advantage in a smaller, chamber-music-size hall.
Ginastera’s musically most imaginative and attractive Estancia Ballet Suite brought the concert to its happy end.
Conductor Yeruham Scharovsky’s finely developed sense of exciting rhythms and colorful, well-polished orchestration created an impressive performance.
The Masonic Mozart
Phoenix Ensemble
Targ Music Center, Ein Kerem
February 13
Mozart’s relatively lesser-known works for his Freemasonic Lodge were presented by members of the Phoenix Ensemble on early instruments (Myrna Herzog, Yasuko Hirata, David Shemer). It was a welcome acquaintance with another Mozart.
A special attraction was the recently acquired square fortepiano, constructed shortly after Mozart’s time. Its exquisite, delicate sonorities sounded more suitable for an aristocrat’s salon than for the dimensions of a concert hall.
In his Masonic arias and songs Mozart featured purer and simpler, with more modest melodic lines than in his operatic arias, refraining from extroverted dramatic expression, ornamentations and coloraturas. As a surprise came the popular Violet and Blondchen’s aria from the naughty opera Abduction from the Seraglio, not commonly known for its Masonic connotations.
Rona Israel-Kolatt’s bright, clear soprano and meticulously cleanintonation sounded too assertive in relation to the subtle fortepiano,missing the desirable balance between the two. In the restrained andintimate cantata pieces and songs, her expression was as dramatic as inthe opera arias, without emphasizing nuances to differentiate betweenthe two genres.
The ensemble’s performance was well-balanced and appealingly faithful to style.