Thursday, November 8, 2012

Farewell concert of the Israeli Bach Soloists

On November 1st 2012, the Israeli Bach Soloists, directed by founder Sharon Rosner, performed their farewell concert at the Israel Conservatory of Music, Tel Aviv. Those taking part were singers Hadas Faran Asia, Anat Czarny, Avital Dery, Alon Harari, Yair Polishook, David Nortman and Guy Pelc, violinist Rachel Ringelstein, flautist Idit Shemer, Zohar Shefi (harpsichord, organ), ‘cellist Jackie Fay and Rosner himself, who played viol and also sang.

Sharon Rosner addressed the audience briefly, mentioning that the concert was bringing to a conclusion several years of activity during which time the ensemble had performed mostly works of J.S.Bach. He spoke of the fact that playing Bach had taught them much, also bringing home the fact that Bach’s music is not easy to grasp, that it is, in fact, enigmatic and evasive, defying categories. For this concert, the audience had no printed program to follow, no list of works and no program notes to guide it through the evening. Neither did Rosner wish to provide the audience with words or translations of the vocal pieces: he claimed the music itself would express the words and that the music performed was to constitute a tribute to itself.

For those of us conditioned to following a printed program there was some compromise to be made, but once under way, the music did, indeed, tell its own non-verbal story and in depth and the audience was focused. Suffice it to say the program consisted of chorales, solo arias from cantatas, two motets, the e minor Flute Sonata and a sonata for viol and harpsichord. Rosner and his performers are all highly experienced early music artists and well-known to Israeli early music aficionados, most of the artists being soloists in their own right. The solo performances attested to that. As a consort, the strength of the Israeli Bach Soloists lies in deep reading into texts, balance, precision and interaction, individual timbre and delicacy. A highlight of the program for me was a superbly shaped and moving rendering the motet “Ich lasse dich nicht” BWV Anh.159 (To Thee I will cling until I am blest), composed by Bach in 1713.

The Israeli Bach Soloists have left their mark on the local concert scene and will be sorely missed.

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