The Jerusalem International YMCA decorated inside and out for the holiday season.
(photo credit: HADAR ALFASI)

The 22nd Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival Opening Concert

YMCA, Jerusalem

September 3

With its opening concert, the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival started out on the right foot.

It was a mixture of classical, romantic, 20th-century modernist and contemporary music. The most recent Work was Jorg Widmann’s Fantasie for solo clarinet. This is an amusing, listener-friendly piece, proving that humor is possible in music. Since the performer was also the composer of the piece, we may, or even must, take his interpretation as authentic. 

A 20th century modernist work was Alfred Schnittke’s Piano Quintet. This is a serious, depressing work, sounding even more melancholic than Tchaikovsky’s preceding Serenade Melancolique. After much exciting turbulence, the work dies down as though it was the composer’s own funeral music. The magnificent performance was led by pianist Elena Bashkirova.

The program’s most impressive work was Brahms’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, performed by Widmann and Kirill Gerstein. This is a rarely performed work, presumably because it is hard to find a clarinetist who is capable of producing such light-sounding notes and delicate pianissimo.

One hopes the festival will continue on such a high level of performance, difficult though it may be.

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