Concert Reviews

Drewnowski, a protegee of Leonard Bernstein, turned out to be an outstanding event at the Ein Kerem Targ Center.

Piano Recital Scarlatti and Chopin Targ Center, Jerusalem October 26 A guest recital of Polish pianist Marek Drewnowski, a protegee of Leonard Bernstein, turned out to be an outstanding event at the Ein Kerem Targ Center. To see Scarlatti and Chopin together in one program is uncommon. The highly emotional Scarlatti is considered by some to be a Romantic of the Baroque - perhaps the only common denominator between the two. The tempestuous, refreshing drive of Scarlatti's Italo-Spanish temperament was thrillingly conveyed in Sonatas K. 146 and 308. The other ones, however, confirmed that substituting the piano for Scarlatti's original harpsichord is problematic. The latter's percussive sound was blurred on the piano due to an overdose of pedalling. In Chopin, not surprisingly, the pianist appeared to feel most at home. In the waltzes he displayed an appealingly soft touch with a pearly technique, transparency of the sometimes congested textures, sensitive nuances of dynamics, and flexible rubatos that stemmed from the pianist's own imaginative interpretation. These injected life, vivacity and elegance into the performance. In the Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brilliante, though, he got carried away by the work's brilliance, gliding into showy virtuosity and banging too frighteningly on the piano, making it sound more Liszt-like than genuinely sensitive Chopin. - Ury Eppstein Israel Sinfonietta Season Opening Concert 2007-2008 Beersheba Conservatory October 29 The Sinfonietta 2007-2008 season opened with refreshing energy in an impressive collage for piano and orchestra by Uri Brener, the new resident composer and soloist. "Blarings, Clouds, Celebrations," his world premiere, opened with "chimes of doom," followed by an extended scream ("cloud-like" polyclusters in the strings and winds), which toned down to soft piano keyboard meanderings. More screaming was then followed by a heartfelt quotation from Mozart, which returned to blaring brass and appassionato pounding on the piano and kettle drums before ending softly on the piano. Overall, the nearly half hour work holds one's attention. It is a telling contemporary commentary about being human, holding on to sensitivity, and spiritual survival in a cruel and violent world. Next the Ihud Kibbutz Choir joined the Negev Orchestra for Mendelssohn's Cantata on Psalm 42: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." The performance rose at times to enthusiasm, as in the closing fugal doxology, "Hope thou in God." But for the most part, the devotional quality of the work was marred by the choral sonority - a strident soprano-bass polarity that overwhelmed the inner alto-tenor voices. Yet despite all that, there was inspiration too. The young Israeli soloist, Hila Bajo, like a flower emerging from the bud, revealed a gorgeous, pure, light and clear soprano that elegantly enunciated, "I went with them to the house of God with the voice of joy and praise." It phrased Mendelssohn's overflowing Romanticism with warm sensitivity. The program concluded a rousing finale that included, for the first time in Beersheba, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, adding trombones especially for the occasion. It was a classsic reading with emphasis on continuity of tempo rather than dramatic contrast. Against all odds, and horrendous government budget cuts this season, music director Doron Solomon continues to excite audiences in Beersheba. His articulate remarks, innovative programming, and devoted music-making promise a rewarding season of concerts ahead. - Max Stern Carmel Quartet Beethoven and Janacek Jerusalem Music Center, Mishkenot Sha'ananim October 30 The season's opening concert of the Carmel Quartet's series (Rachel Ringelstein, Lea Reichlin, Yoel Greenberg, Tami Waterman) at the Jerusalem Music Center Mishkenot Sha'ananim, featured two composers who turned their backs on the musical style of their predecessors - Beethoven and Janacek. In Beethoven's Quartet op. 18/6 the players placed strong emphasis on the composer's innovative characteristics - powerful dramatic expression, irregularity, hypnotic intensity, and mischievous capriciousness. Janacek's "Kreutzer Sonata" String Quartet masterfully portrayed the complex triangular relationship of two men and one woman, conveying their sentiments forcefully and convincingly without gliding into Romantic sentimentality or melodrama. The rendition transmitted the work's unwholesome high-strung emotional content with uncanny plasticity. The group's playing was vivid, strongly expressive and extremely well coordinated. Greenberg's eye-opening introductory comments could well serve as a model for intelligent, thought-provoking music commentators. - Ury Eppstein