Festival Review: Kol Hamusica

Classical music can not only be spiritually uplifting, it can also be great fun.

 Orfeo Mandozzi and Ohad Ben-Ari311 (photo credit: Ya’arah Nahar Davis)
Orfeo Mandozzi and Ohad Ben-Ari311
(photo credit: Ya’arah Nahar Davis)
You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but bring in a new artistic director and you’re bound to get something fresh for your money. And so it proved at last week’s classical music bash – the Kol Hamusica Festival – at Kfar Blum.
Debutant artistic director cellist Zvi Plesser initiated the refreshingly revolutionary Kaleidoscope item to the festival program, which went down a treat with performers and audiences alike. Before the Kaleidoscope proceedings got under way the audience gathered in the appropriate auditorium at the Clore Center behind the Pastoral Hotel for an explanation from Plesser about how we were to go about our business during the event. We were divided into three groups, each group received yellow, green or blue stickers, and directed to different halls in the building.
Three works – Mozart’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in G Minor, Beethoven’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in A Major and Mozart’s Duet in B Flat Major – were performed three times simultaneously, and were seen and heard by each group in rotation.
The members of the blue group, to my mind, were fortunate in that they heard the least impressive of the three recitals, the piano-violin confluence, first. Violinist Alexander Pavlovsky and pianist Miri Yampolsky certainly displayed a keen understanding of the ropes, but there was just a touch too much of the clinical about their reading of the Mozart sonata for my liking.
That became even more apparent – by dint of contrast – as the Beethoven work opened up like a glorious bright sunshiny flower, full of empathetic intent and – yes – fun. Swiss-born cellist Orfeo Mandozzi reveled in the sonata, and he and pianist Ohad Ben-Ari complimented each other gracefully and with consummate ease. There were plenty of smiles at the viola-violin slot too, as Avri Levitan and Roi Shiloah conveyed their unrestrained joie de vivre to the enthused audience.
There was a nice added touch to the Kaleidoscope musical triptych. Before the program got under way we were provided with pencils and slips of paper on which we could note our impressions of each rendition and place in envelopes stuck to the backs of the chairs in the various auditoria. On the morrow the notes were placed on the notice board in the Clore Center lobby. It made for interesting and fun reading, and brought the audience on board in a comfortable hands on manner.
The following morning, Croatian guitarist Zoran Dukic held his audience spellbound with a virtuoso solo rendition of a wide variety of works, ranging from four Catalan folk songs by early 20th century Barcelona-born composer Miguel Llobet, to a sonata by 41-year-old Bulgarian-born guitarist-composer Atanas Ourkouzounov, a pulsating emotive work by 20th century Argentinean nuevo tango pioneer Astor Piazzolla and a delightful medley of Six Balkan Miniatures by 55-year-old Serbian-born American composer Dusan Bogdanovic.
Add that to a definitively user-friendly lecture by composer Ofer Ben-Amots on his The Dybbuk, and a vignette from the composition courtesy of The Upper Galilee Choir accompanied Ben-Amots on piano, and you get the idea that classical music can not only be spiritually uplifting, it can also be great fun.

Kfar Blum, July 25-30