Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pinchas Zukerman and Friends in Jerusalem

The Zukerman Chamber Players were guest artists of the 9th concert of the Jerusalem Music Centre’s chamber music concert series. “Pinchas Zukerman and Friends” attracted a very large audience to their concert in the Mary Nathaniel Golden Hall of Friendship at the YMCA, Jerusalem, May 4th, 2009.

Violinist, violist, conductor, pedagogue and chamber musician, Pinchas Zukerman (b.Tel Aviv 1948) established the Zukerman Chamber Players in 2003. Members of this string quintet are Zukerman-violin, Jessica Linnebach-violin, Jethro Marks-viola, Ashan Pillai-viola and Amanda Forsyth-‘cello.

Franz Schubert’s (1797-1828) String Trio in B flat major, D 471, was composed in 1816, at a time he was still a student of Salieri.. Only the first movement, Allegro, and a fragment of the slow movement of this work survive. An early chamber work, it subtly predicts the more uniquely personal style Schubert was to develop in later chamber works. The players brought out a naïve sweetness alternating in darker moments, the movement ending on a poignant note.

W.A.Mozart’s String Quintet in C major, K515 was composed in 1787 on the composer’s return to Vienna from Prague where his “Marriage of Figaro” had been given a clamorous reception, this success resulting in the commission of a new opera. It seems the C major quintet was composed while Mozart was waiting for da Ponte to complete the libretto for Don Giovanni.. Performed with delicacy, precision, joy and plenty of melodic interest, Zukerman’s role as leader is ever apparent. The Allegro was presented as a mix of joy and understatement, flexed with a touch of rubato, leaving the listener with a sense of what Alfred Einstein had referred in this movement as “godlike and childlike”.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) composed his String Quintet in B flat major, opus 87, at age 36. The Zukerman Chamber Players delighted the audience with their exuberance and varied palette of sonorities for the performance of this wonderful concert piece, from the energy and warmth of the opening Allegro vivace movement to the lighter, more delicate scoring of the Andante Scherzando. The lyrical third movement, Adagio e lento, was presented in all its soul-searching and melancholy expressiveness, its almost tragic message swept aside by the fourth movement that alternates forthright energy with calm, restoring that Mendelssohn sense of well-being. This was surely the high point of the evening.

For an encore, the quintet played one movement of A. Dvorak’s (1841-1904) String Quintet in E, opus 97, which, although composed in America, harks back to Czechoslovakia and its folk idiom. The Zukerman Chamber Players thrilled the Jerusalem audience with their brilliance and precision, with their attention to stylistic detail and pleasing string color, never overstepping the boundaries of good taste. One was constantly attracted to focusing on Zukerman’s vibrant musicality and to that of the brilliant Canadian ‘cellist, Amanda Forsyth.

No comments: