Monday, June 27, 2011

The Carmel Quartet winds up its 2010-2011 lecture-concert season with "Simply Serenades"

The Carmel Quartet closed its 2010-2011 season of Commentated Concerts with “Simply Serenades”, the English language lecture-concert taking place June 22nd 2011 at the Jerusalem Music Centre. With the audience seated, lights were dimmed and the evening began with a slide show displaying several paintings of well-known artists titled “The Serenade”. These were shown to the strains of “Oh, Come to the Window” the serenade from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”, a genuine old-fashioned serenade to a plucked accompaniment. The audience was now in the right frame-of-mind to hear more about the genre, with the help of violist Yoel Greenberg and his co-players – violinists Rachel Ringelstein and Lia Rakhlin and ‘cellist Tami Waterman.

Greenberg referred to the “serenade” genre as not only a romantic song performed to the accompaniment of a plucked instrument but also as musical entertainment for parties and celebrations. Its etymological origins might have come from the same roots as “serene”; the serenade was also a form of “notturno”, “nocturne” or “Nachtmusik” – music to be played in the evening. Such music might be heard in the streets and parks of Vienna on summer evenings. In some serenades, such as the Hofstetter Serenade, (attributed to Haydn) an instrument, taking on the vocal role, might “sing” the melody. Greenberg referred to the serenade form as light, relaxed and easy-to-grasp, as “a musical greeting”. In 18th century Vienna (and some other cities in Europe) there was a serenade to match every occasion, many of these works being commissioned for specific events, such as weddings, public celebrations and private parties. This being the case, the serenade is a social and functional musical form, its length suiting the length of the occasion, its movements in accordance with the various activities of the occasion it accompanies. The serenade might start with a kind of march (Beethoven’s Serenade in D major for violin, viola and ‘cello opus 8 begins with a march; the first movement of Dvorak’s Serenade for Wind Instruments in D minor opus 44 is marked “Moderato, quasi Marcia”) or a fanfare to issue in important personages or guests.

Greenberg sees W.A.Mozart as the stage director of his Serenade no. 13 for Strings in G major K.525 (1787), a work more often referred to as “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” (A Little Night Music), its plan including gentle music, a small, intimate dance and joyful music to send the guests home in good spirits. The original second movement, a dance – probably a minuet and trio - was removed by someone in the 19th century and has subsequently been lost. Greenberg calls Mozart’s K.525 “a multi-contextual work, firmly embedded in the social reality of its time”, adding that the Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein spoke of it as “supreme mastery in the smallest possible frame”. The Carmel Quartet’s performance of the “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”, led by the singing violin of Rachel Ringelstein, was rich in melodiousness, fine detail, understated flexibility and human expression; the players’ use of light textures contrasted with resolute moments, Mozart’s humor and nobility of expression both present.

In the course of the turmoil of the 19th century, the changing of society, the scarcity of patrons and the focusing on highly personal emotions, the serenade should have disappeared. Greenberg, however, mentions the 19th century as seeing a renaissance of the serenade! He talked about Austrian composer Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), one of the greatest Lied composers whose “Italian Serenade” was the next work on the program. Greenberg, referring to him as the “quintessential Romantic”, spoke of Wolf’s bouts of depression alternating with periods of much composing, and his low self image. The composer worked as a teacher and music critic, having studied composition mostly on his own, a factor contributing to his originality and experimental approach. The Italian Serenade, an early work, composed within three days in 1887, was probably inspired by Josef Eichendorff’s “Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts” (From the Life of a Ne’er-Do-Well), the central figure of the novella being a talented, well-meaning musician, but a somewhat pathetic character. It seems Wolf identified with the novella’s hero. We heard the fine soprano voice of Rachel Ringelstein in an appealing and whimsical performance of Wolf’s “Der Soldat I” (The Soldier) from the Eichendorff-Lieder. The song is quoted in the serenade.

‘Although my horse may not look so handsome,
He is actually quite clever
And will carry me through the dark to a certain little castle
Quickly enough.

Although the castle is not very splendid,
Out of her door and into the garden
Steps a maiden, who, all night,
Will be friendly to me.

And although this small girl
Is not the fairest in the world,
There is still no other
That I like better.

But if she speaks of marriage,
I’ll leap onto my horse –
I’ll stay free
And she’ll stay at the castle.’

Wolf’s “Italian Serenade”, constructed in a loose rondo form, presents the Romantic style peppered with the wit of the work’s programmatic content, its irony and “simplicity” the basis of the young man’s serenading of his lady. On hearing the work, Max Reger spoke of it as “of such an enchanting tonal charm, of such a captivating highly original color that it will certainly inspire the greatest enthusiasm…” The Carmel Quartet’s reading of the work reflected its humor and rhythmic interest, its entertaining and appealing qualities, its instrumental- and extra-musical agenda.

And to an even later serenade – Hungarian composer and conductor Erno Dohnanyi’s (1877-1960) Serenade for String Trio in C opus 10, composed in 1902 and premiered two years later in Vienna with considerable success. Greenberg spoke of Dohnanyi (Ernst von Dohnanyi) as one of the greatest pianists and teachers of his time and a prolific composer, writing in the conservative style. Dohnanyi had received much support from Brahms, and the Serenade recalls Brahms in sonority and structure. Greenberg calls this serenade a “19th century reference to an 18th century serenade”. The concise first movement, marked Marcia, presents a lively and varied canvas, its fragmented march reappearing in the last movement. The tender Romanza’s thought-provoking main melody was stated on the viola (Greenberg), its theme placed either side of a stormy section. A Scherzo followed, a demonic, virtuosic and intense piece, bristling with many ideas. The modal, plaintive Tema con Variazioni reminds us of Dohnanyi’s Hungarian roots, the Carmel players’ reading of it evocative, creating an almost visual landscape. In one of the variations, the violin “sings” a serenade to the pizzicato accompaniment of viola and ‘cello. A high-spirited Rondo movement ends the work. The players capture Dohnanyi’s melodic invention and build a soundscape of full Romantic harmonies with conviction, their performance crisp, muscular and warm.

The Carmel Quartet’s “Commentated Concerts” are an auspicious contribution to Israel’s concert scene, each concert focusing on a subject, each highly informative yet informally presented. Yoel Greenberg does most of the talking, with his co-players adding charming vignettes and touches. The English language lecture-concert offers much enjoyment and musical enrichment to Jerusalem’s English-speaking community. The Carmel Quartet’s high quality of musicianship always makes for fine listening.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Barrocade launches "Folk Baroque" disc and appears in "Light in Jerusalem" Festival

June 16th 2011 was a cool, pleasant evening. Jerusalem was swarming with people spilling out of the Mamilla Mall, making their way into the Old City via the Jaffa Gate to view the “Light in Jerusalem” Festival, running from June 15th to 22nd. Taking place for the second year in a row, it features the work of local- and international light artists, dramatically illuminating the wealth of historical sites within the walls of the Old City.

In the plaza joining the Mamilla Mall to the Jaffa Gate, the Voice of Music (Israeli Radio) had set up a makeshift studio and was broadcasting live. There was much lively discussion about the “Light in Jerusalem” Festival in the studio, but this evening proved to be a double celebration: the Barrocade Ensemble had just launched its new disc “Folk Baroque” – Timeless Music on Early Instruments, in which its instrumentalists are joined by soprano Ye’ela Avital. Founded in 2007, Barrocade is an ensemble with a difference, with all members contributing to decisions as to the manner in which works are to be performed. Directed by viol player Amit Tiefenbrunn, and mostly playing without a conductor, Barrocade performs Renaissance- and Baroque music, integrating Jazz and folk music into concert programs, without losing sight of the importance of each style. The group’s wider scope, however, lends flexibility and spontaneity to its playing.

Five Barrocade members – Amit Tiefenbrunn, violinist Shlomit Sivan Jacobi, mandolin player Jacob Reuven, harpsichordist Yizhar Karshon and Ye’ela Avital - took part in the studio discussion, after which they performed some early English dances and the traditional British ballad “Scarborough Fair” in the open air to the enjoyment of passers-by stopping to listen. The “Folk Baroque” disc includes music by composers such as Purcell, Dowland, Monteverdi and Vivaldi alongside anonymous pieces and folk songs and dances as well as pieces by Astor Piazzolla and Joseph Kosma.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Florilegium (UK) performs Baroque works at the 2011 Israel Festival

The Henry Crown Auditorium (Jerusalem Theatre) was the venue for a concert performed by Florilegium, the prestigious British ensemble, June 5th, as part of the 2011 Israel Festival. Co-founded by recorder-player and flautist Ashley Solomon in 1991, Florilegium focuses on music spanning from the Baroque to the Romantic period; the ensemble plays on period instruments. Performing widely, Florilegium is a flexible ensemble, presenting works for small chamber works to large-scale orchestral pieces and has been Ensemble in Association at the Royal College of Music since 2008. Director Ashley Solomon performs all over the world as a soloist but invests much of his energy nowadays in his work with Florilegium.

The program opened with Antonio Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) Concerto “Il Gran Mogol”, a flute concerto composed in the late 1720’s or early 1730’s as one work of a set of four concertos representing the culture of different countries. The other three have been lost; this concerto was also missing till 2010, when it was rediscovered in Scotland. A small gem, the concerto typifies Vivaldi’s vitality and sense of color. Florilegium’s reading of it allowed the temperament of its phrases to dictate movement and shape, Solomon’s mellifluous playing of the melodic line of the Larghetto movement elegant and fetching.

We then heard Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s (1710-1736) Salve Regina in C minor, a setting of a traditional Latin prayer and possibly the last work by the composer, written in a Franciscan monastery, where he spent the last two months of his short life. Joining Florilegium to perform the solo in this work was Canadian soprano Gillian Keith. An opera singer in demand, Keith also sings oratorio. Her performance of the Pergolesi Salve Regina was spiritual and compassionate, her lyrical, sweet-timbred voice, tempered with much vibrato (for Baroque music) supported by instrumental playing of real beauty. Also featuring Gillian Keith, we heard J.S.Bach’s (1685-1750) cantata “Ich habe genug” BWV 82a (It is enough). To an anonymous text based on a story in the Book of Luke, it was originally composed in 1727 for bass, oboe and strings; we heard the 1731 reworking of the cantata for soprano, flute and strings. An intimate work of religious conviction in the face of death, Keith’s performance of it was sympathetic and imbued with feeling and humility, her bright upper register boasting fine presence, her lower range somewhat less. In “Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen” (Close in sleep, you weary eyes), Keith’s meditative, tranquil reading of the aria reflected the timelessness and transcendence and hope evident in Bach’s own deeply religious existence. The audience was involved and enthusiastic.

G.F.Handel (1685-1759) is estimated to have written over 1000 da capo arias throughout his creative life. “Sweet Bird”, an aria for soprano and flute obbligato, is found in Part 1 of his oratorio “L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato” (The Joyful Man and the Contemplative Man). Premiered in 1740, the work belongs to the period of Handel’s interest in large-scale English works and reflects his liking for pastoral imagery. Keith and Solomon play out the avian discourse, the flute’s birdlike warbling and slightly flexed comments filling each gesture with meaning, Keith’s crystalline timbre suited to bird imagery as she negotiates each leap with ease. Following the minor middle section, void of bird calls but upholstered with steadily pulsed chords on the strings, the artists profusely ornamented the da capo section. There was much charm in the performance of the work.
‘Sweet bird, that shun’st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee, chauntress, oft the woods among,
I woo to hear thy even-song….’

Two of Henry Purcell’s (1659-1695) chaconnes provided a nice instrumental diversion from the vocal works on the program. Purcell was fascinated by the creative possibilities offered by works composed to a ground. In the Chacony in G minor (c.1678), based on an eight-bar ostinato, the ensemble, led articulately by first violinist Bojan Cicic, colored the variations with different instrumentations, creating constant interest and leaning into Purcell’s surprising harmonies based on altered notes. Moving swiftly into the Chaconne from “Timon of Athens”, Florilegium gave light and rhythmical expression to the frisky dancelike character, its economy of gestures adding to the ensemble’s sophisticated approach.

Of late, J.S.Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no.5 seems to have been the flavor of the month in Jerusalem, not a bad thing at all! Throughout much of the evening we heard South African-born Erik Dippenaar playing the organ. Here, he was at the harpsichord, joined by Solomon and Zagreb-born Cicic to form the concertino section. Florilegium’s playing of the opening Allegro was articulate, elegant and subtle. Dippenaar paced the start to the long cadenza carefully, allowing for breaths between the various sections of it, its virtuosity shining through the artist’s sincere and understated approach. The lightly scored Affetuoso was sensitive and gently swayed, the violin occasionally covering the flute. The closing Allegro movement was delicate and fragrant, its many-faceted texture delicate and transparent.

The Florilegium concert was surely one of the most enjoyable musical events of the 2011 Israel Festival, an evening appealing to the senses and to those seeking good taste and excitement in Baroque performance.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra presents four of J.S.Bach's Brandenburg Concertos at the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Jerusalem

I am a member of the board of the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra.On Friday June 3rd 2011, people flocked to Jerusalem to enjoy a variety of short concerts in many of the churches, the Tower of David Museum and the Jerusalem Theatre…you might call it a one-day “fringe festival”, the result of collaboration between the Israel Festival and the Israeli Opera Festival.

Leaving the noise of the bustling shops, cafes and street musicians of the Mamilla Mall behind us, we opened a door to enter the tranquility of the Monastery of St. Vincent de Paul, an impressive ecclesiastical structure built in the 19th century. This was the venue for a concert of four of J.S. Bach’s (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos, to be performed by the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra.

In his program notes, Dr. David Shemer, the JBO’s founder and musical director, begins the story of the six unique concerti grossi which make up the set of the Brandenburg Concertos: “In 1721, Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg, received a present – a score carefully handwritten by Johann Sebastian Bach.” (Scholars speculate that the Margrave of Brandenburg did not even peruse the works, as the original manuscript has have been found to be unopened.) Shemer mentions the concerto grosso form, a genre consisting of one small group of solo instruments set against a larger group, the rest of the orchestra, concluding that “each of the six Brandenburg Concertos is characterized by a different and most unusual orchestration”.

The program opened with Concerto no.4 in G major, BWV 1049, the concertino consisting of two recorders (Drora Bruck, Katharine Abrahams) and violin (Noam Schuss). An inspired, exuberant reading of the ever-charming opening movement was followed by the touching Andante movement, Bruck’s small solo phrases played sensitively. Moving straight into the Presto, Schuss handled the virtuosic violin solo with energy and verve. Bruck and Abrahams partnered, blended and communicated.

Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no.3 in G major, BWV 1048, scored for only stringed instruments, deviates from the usual concerto grosso mould, with the nine instruments playing individually or in combinations that constantly regroup. With violinist Dafna Ravid leading (and Katharine Abrahams now playing ‘cello) the effect created by the JBO was mellow, well profiled, bristling with exciting dynamic changes and individual expression, at the same time, addressing key notes and phrases. Moving from first to third movement via two linking chords, one’s attention was drawn to the technical bravura of the lower strings.

Concerto no.6 in B flat major, BWV 1051, composed in 1718, invites two violas (Amos Boazson, Daniel Tanchelson) and ‘cello (Orit Messer-Jacobi) to form the concertino section. Bach, himself, probably played one of the viola parts, the question remaining being who played the second viola part, which is every bit as challenging as the first. It is likely that Prince Leopold played one of the viola da gamba parts, at this performance played by Myrna Herzog and Amit Tiefenbrunn. The firm basso continuo (Dara Bloom played the double bass) gave the texture a well grounded sound, the violas in constant dialogue, Messer-Jacobi’s presence majestic. The JBO’s playing of this concerto brings to mind Bach’s instructions to his pupils to write instrumental parts “like persons who conversed together as if in a select company”.

Brandenburg Concerto no. 5 in D major, BWV 1050 features flute (Genevieve Blanchard), violin (Dafna Ravid) and harpsichord (Davis Shemer) in the solo section. Bach was interested to show the merits of the new harpsichord he had brought to Cothen from Berlin in 1719, playing the harpsichord role of the concerto himself. It was the first time the harpsichord had appeared as a solo concerto instrument. How magical the instrumentation of this work is! After Ravid and Blanchard elegantly show the listener through the play of tonality shifts of the opening Allegro, supported by harpsichord and ripieno, the harpsichord part builds up to break into one of Bach’s most daring and brilliant moments – the lengthy, sparkling cadenza that grows more dazzling as it ends up showering down cascades of golden notes. Shemer pulls out all the plugs, juxtaposing and juggling the various sections with fine articulacy, his audience having a hard time containing its applause to the end of the concerto! Ravid, Blanchard and Shemer then presented the tranquil, intimate Affetuoso in a series of singing gestures, leaning into its dissonances, then floating the final movement of intricate passagework and light textures with joy and ease. Blanchard’s playing of the Baroque flute was outstanding in its eloquence.

The Brandenburg Concertos did not achieve their original purpose – to secure Bach a job in Brandenburg – but they never cease to thrill and surprise audiences and, I dare say, the players. The JBO’s performance did just that, players and audience joining in the elevating experience of this music. There were people in the audience who had come from out of Jerusalem to be part of the experience and there were people there, curious and excited, attending their first concert of that kind. The concert was no less inspiring for seasoned concert-goers.

Leaving the church, we walked out into Jerusalem’s blinding midday sun, still steeped in the sounds of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, not yet ready to be a part of the life outside.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Maestro Gabor Hollerung conducts the New Israeli Vocal Ensemble in an evening of "Gypsy Songs"

Concert no.5 of the New Israeli Vocal Ensemble’s Vocal Experience series was titled “Gypsy Songs”. Conducting the concert was visiting Hungarian conductor Gabor Hollerung. This writer attended the concert May 30th at the Jerusalem Music Centre, Mishkenot Hasha’ananim.

The New Israeli Vocal Ensemble was established in 1993 by Yuval Ben-Ozer, its musical director. Ben-Ozer, a much sought-after conductor in Israel and abroad, also runs management workshops for business organizations.One of the finest ensembles in Israel,the NIVE's members are professional singers, its repertoire spanning from music of the Middle Ages to contemporary music, including the premiering new works of Israeli composers. The ensemble records, has performed at the Israel Festival and in festivals in Europe and Korea and has won prizes at international choral competitions. The NIVE appears with Israeli orchestras and works with leading conductors, among them, Frieder Bernius, Anthony Rooley and Andrew Parrott.

Gabor Hollerung (b.Budapest, 1954) has been conductor of the Dohnanyi Orchestra Budafok since 1989 and musical director of the Budapest Academic Choral Society since 1980, the latter receiving the “Choir of the World” title in Llangollen (Wales.) Maestro Hollerung is deeply involved in the organization of worldwide choral events and competitions – he is a musical director of “Musica Mundi”, the “Interkultur” International Music Competitions Foundation and of the “Choir Olympics”. Hollerung trains conductors, one of his most interesting projects being the annual conductors’ workshop he directs in Taipei (Taiwan.) Maestro Hollerung is no new face on the Israeli concert scene, having conducted the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Israel Camerata Jerusalem, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tel Aviv Philharmonia Singers.

Pianist Irit Rub accompanied the NIVE. As soloist and chamber music player, Ms. Rub performs in Israel and further afield. She is a member of the “Idan” Trio; she performs with flautist Yossi Arnheim, also accompanying singer-actor David Sebba in his own parody on the history of voice and opera show “Mad About Opera”.

In “Gypsy Songs” we heard choral works, all of which were influenced by gypsy music. Stories, poetry and songs depicting the lives of gypsies abound in Romantic (and earlier) literature, their influence evident in music, with the Romantic spirit attracted to the mysticism, nature and the exotic elements of the gypsy lifestyle. The program opened with Robert Schumann’s (1810-1856) “Zigeunerleben” (Gypsy Life.) Schumann’s interest gypsy lifestyle came from reading Emanuel Geibel’s “Gypsy Poems”, this finding expression in his “Zigeunerleben” opus 29 no.3. Composed in 1840, the composer’s “song year”, it was scored for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices with piano accompaniment but is now commonly performed by choirs. We heard it sung by the choir, with small solos performed by Shirel Gidekel, Hadas Gur, Tal Koch and Ronen Ravid. The work, not actually gypsy music, nevertheless set the scene and created the atmosphere that would pervade the evening’s program.
‘In the shadows of the forest, among the beech trees,
Something moves and rustles and whispers all at once.
Flames are flickering, their glow dances
Around colorful figures, around leaves and rocks;
It is the roaming band of gypsies
With flashing eyes and waving hair…’

This was followed by Johannes Brahms’ (1833-1897) eleven “Zigeunerlieder” (Gypsy Songs) opus 103, composed in 1887 to texts of Hungarian folk songs translated into German by the composer’s friend Hugo Conrat. Brahms learned about gypsy music from Hungarian violinist Eduard Hofmann (Remenyi), accompanying him on a concert tour, where he learned to play “alla zingarese” (in gypsy style.) Although beginning each song on the downbeat (in keeping with the Hungarian language), Brahms decides against using the scales found in gypsy music. Yet, the work is Hungarian in spirit. Hollerung peppers it with fast tempi, hearty, strident, folksy moments, light textures and songs of appealing, reflective tenderness; all these serve to describe flirting and love, rejection and parting, accompanied with poignant descriptive scenes. Irit Rub was attentive to each nuance.

We heard the women members of the NIVC, with Rub at the piano, in seven of Antonin Dvorak’s (1841-1904) Moravian Duets opus 32, works that won the composer much success, launching his international career and making him a hero in the eyes of his countrymen. In 1877, Dvorak had submitted opus 29 and 32 for an Austrian composers’ competition and was awarded the prize of 600 florins. Brahms, (Dvorak’s mentor) a member of the judging committee, wrote to publisher Fritz Simrock that the songs “seem to me so perfectly charming they should be a practical publishing venture.” Dvorak was unhappy about Simrock publishing the titles in German. An ardent nationalist, he wished the works to be performed in the original Czech dialect of Moravian. In some of the songs, the composer had discarded the original folk melodies, devising his own. The NIVC ladies contended with the Moravian text, their performance rife with changing emotions, folk dance rhythms and dialogue, creating a colorful (at times, almost visual) description of the daily joys and sorrows of small town life. These small, charming vignettes are sumptuously enriched by the piano accompaniment.

The choir performed two a cappella songs of Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist and pioneer of music education pioneer Zoltan Kodaly. In 1925, Kodaly composed two songs for a Budapest boys’ choir, one of them being “Turot eszik a cigany” (See the Gypsies Munching Cheese). Although the composer had written choral music previously, this was a significant point in his career, with choral music becoming the main genre of his oeuvre. The NIVC produced the wild rhythms of this song, enforcing them with percussive consonants and spicing them with many accents. In “Esti Dal” (Evening Song) (1938), the sopranos present most of the plaintive, introspective melody, with smooth background parts moving in lush harmonies provided by the other voices. The singers recreate Kodaly’s intimate mood piece, evoking the wonder, peace and richness of the night sky.
‘As I lie down for the night by the edge of the woods,
I pull a blanket up under my chin.
I put my hands together,
Thus imploring you, my good Lord

My Lord, grant me a place to stay,
For I’ve grown tired of wandering,
Of hiding,
Of living in a foreign land…’(Translation: Michael Kaulkin.)

Composer and ethnomusicologist Bela Bartok’s (1881-1945) Four Slovak Folksongs, unaltered settings of the songs, the melodies mostly in the upper voice, were arranged for mixed choir and piano in 1916. Using little counterpoint, the composer harmonized the songs simply and mostly note for note or not at all. They open with the delicate “Wedding Song from Poniky”, sensitively presented by the choir and Rub; it is a dialogue between mother and daughter; its text reveals that the daughter is to be sent away to marry a cruel man in a foreign country. Following the “Song of the Hay Harvesters”, featuring irregular rhythmic meters, the “Song from Medzibrod” suggests dance rhythms, while the fourth, “Dancing Song from Poniky” evokes drones and peasant bagpipes.

Introducing the last work of the evening, Maestro Hollerung informed the audience that Zoltan Kodaly’s “Kallai Kettos” (1950) (Kallo’s Double Dance) – representing the tradition of singing and dancing together - was the only authentic gypsy music on the program, and that the Irit Rub would have the task of representing a virtuosic gypsy orchestra always ready to improvise! The title of the work derives from Nagykallo, a town in northeast Hungary, where the dance originated during Turkish occupation. Hollerung, conducting both choir and pianist, presented the audience with a colorful rendering of music rooted in Hungarian tradition – a varied canvas of sentimental melodies, inebriating rhythms, vast dynamic contrasts and the onomatopoeic use of repeated syllables.

This was a very different and refreshing choral concert on the Israeli concert scene. Yuval Ben-Ozer is original and daring in his demands and choice of repertoire; his carefully selected singers are ready for the challenge. Irit Rub’s accompaniments added pleasure and support. Maestro Hollering arrived in Israel to find the NIVE well prepared for his pre-concert rehearsals. It is no mean feat for Israelis to sing a concert in German, Hungarian, Moravian Czech and Slovenian. The New Israeli Vocal Ensemble’s mixed and richly colored signature timbre is especially suited to this type of music. The audience at the Jerusalem Music Centre was well entertained.