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MALCOLM MILLER attended two concerts
by Israeli artists in a recent music festival in North London


With that huge ocean liner, the BBC Proms season -- the world's largest music festival -- soon to set sail with its eclectic musical feast, it is nevertheless intriguing to follow the progress of smaller seacraft that journey in its wash. One such is the enterprising annual Proms at St Jude's, currently in its 9th year, a varied week-long festival at St Jude's Church NW11, in North London in June, whose substantial proceeds are given to charity each year. This year's season has included large scale orchestral and choral concerts -- including The 'Emperor' Concerto and Schubert's 9th with the Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra conducted by Robert Max, Haydn's Creation, a Jazz evening and even a Last Night of the Proms with the Finchley Chamber Orchestra conducted by David Lardi. Amongst the solo concert highlights were two events, one evening and one lunchtime concert, given by outstanding artists from Israel, the pianist Alon Goldstein and soprano Ruti Halvani, each of which featured some seldom heard music by Israeli composers alongside classical masterpieces.

Alon Goldstein, currently Fellow at the Guildhall School of Music, played as the centrepiece of his recital on 20 June 2001 the refreshing, seldom heard, Music for Piano by Paul Ben-Haim. Ben Haim's Music for Piano dates from 1967, when the composer, who came from Germany to Israel in the 1930s, was seventy. Goldstein won an award for his broadcast of the work and it is soon to feature on a forthcoming CD of contemporary piano music. The work radiates colour and energy, the seven pieces moving from the delicate reverie of the first piece, to a peak of tempo and intensity in the central fourth piece, and receding to a luxuriant lyricism in the final movement. A characteristic use of ostinato, or rich impressionistic textures and an incisive, somewhat innovative pianistic soundworld, pervades the cycle. The second and fourth movements were electric, sweeping in broad brush strokes across the keyboard, whilst the fifth is a pointed march based on bell-like open intervals, fourths and fifths, building up to a climax. Projected with charisma and conviction, to the very last moment with its repeated high note reverberating into the silence, it was a performance that held the audience in rapt attention.

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Copyright © 3 July 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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