Concert Review: The Unison Ensemble Hebrew Union College September 29

The Unison Ensemble has attracted attention with its uncommon combination of soprano, violin, horn and piano.

The new musical season's opening event in Jerusalem was the Hebrew Union College's first concert of its chamber music series. The uncommon combination of soprano, violin, horn and piano (Rona Israel-Kolatt, Gilad Hildesheim, Michael Slatkin, Irena Friedland), the Unison Ensemble attracted attention even before the music started. Eyal Bat's setting to Else Lasker-Schueler's "Evening Song," was composed especially for this ensemble. Bat sensitively conveyed the poem's profound individuality and sadness. Swedish-born Israeli Rahel Galinne's settings to texts from the Bible, was a series of meticulously stylized intense outcries, alternating with phrases of desperate supplication, and ending on a note of hope. Kolatt's bright, clear soprano captured the texts' and the music's contrasting messages forcefully and impressively, emphasized attentively by the horn and the piano. In Gunther Shuller's Intermezzo, Slatkin competently realized the horn's melodious potential. Hildesheim displayed impressive virtuosity in Jasha Heifetz' somewhat kitschy arrangement of songs from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess". "Summertime" provided Kolatt with a welcome chance for an engaging, soft expression for which she did not have much opportunity in Galinne's piece and in Simon Sargon's setting to Edna St.Vincent Millay's poems.