Mustonen is a must

The multifaceted Tallinn-Tel Aviv Festival sweeps the country.

Andres Mustonen  (photo credit: JEVGENY KULIKOV)
Andres Mustonen
(photo credit: JEVGENY KULIKOV)
‘I see two countries as my home. One is my native Estonia, and the other is Israel,” says internationally acclaimed conductor, violinist, researcher and music life organizer Andres Mustonen. He is also the founder and artistic director of the Tallinn Tel Aviv Festival, which will take place this year at Hatahana in Tel Aviv on February 19 to 22 and will continue throughout the country.
Mustonen, a cult personality in Estonia, first came to Israel with his Hortus Musicus early music ensemble about 30 years ago, later becoming an integral part of the local music scene. He has conducted most of Israeli orchestras and choirs, appeared at major festivals, has been inviting Israeli musicians to perform in Estonia and Western Europe, and plays music of Israeli and Jewish composers abroad. And a year ago he inaugurated the Tallinn Tel Aviv Festival, an Israeli extension of his popular Tallinn baby – the Mustonenfest. The first edition of Tallinn was a huge success with audiences and critics alike. The boutique festival, as Mustonen describes it, hosts the some of best Estonian and Israeli musicians and features classical music, jazz, rock and Baroque.
It seems that routine, limitations and delineations between genres are Mustonen’s personal nemeses.
A multifaceted musician, he plays music from Baroque to Renaissance to jazz and conducts oratorios and pieces by leading contemporary composers such as Arvo Part and Sofia Gubaidulina, many of whom are his close friends. As a conductor, he is welcomed by orchestras throughout the world, probably due to his approach: “I am not coming to teach musicians how to play – they already know how – but to inspire them and to discover music together with them.”
According to Mustonen, “Separation between the genres is one of the problems of the music world today. Classical concert goers know nothing about the rock scene, while jazz lovers have no idea of what is happening in the opera house. Those who create classical programs are afraid to disturb their audiences by breaking the routine. The result is stagnation, boredom and death of music. But every concert has to be a vivid emotional experience for listeners and performers alike,” he asserts.
Crossover, freshness, variety, uncompromising music quality – that is the name of the game at the Tallin Tel Aviv Festival. It opens with jazzy interpretations of Bach’s Brandenburg jazz concerti, performed by the Mustonen Art Jazz Quartet and Israeli jazz and classical musicians. It continues to with an intriguing meeting of two female singers from distant cultures: Estonian vocalist Kadri Voorand and her trio and Israeli Miriam Megnaghi, accompanied by jazz pianist Anat Fort. From there, a huge leap in time: a mixed Estonian-Israeli team performs Ludus Danielis, a Medieval musical play that tells the story of the prophet Daniel, probably never performed on our shores before.
Estonia is renowned for its choralsinging tradition, so the Estonian National Male Choir and Girls’ Choir Ellerhein, among the northern country’s best, join Hortus Musicus for a rich choral music program.
And on the top of that, secular teaching and spiritual wisdom are expressed in various settings of Carmina Burana from Medieval manuscripts and in the music of verses by Israeli and Estonian composers such as Kauman, Pärt, Steinberg, Bardanashvili and Luca Lombardi.
In a word, the Mustonenfest in Tel Aviv is a must.
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