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Waves of intensity

MALCOLM MILLER attended the world première of a work for two marimbas at Carnegie Hall, with a presentation to Daniel Liebeskind


An evocative concertante work for the unusual medium of marimba duo and chamber orchestra, by the promising young Israeli composer Lior Navok, formed the memorable centrepiece of a superb concert at Carnegie Hall, New York, USA, given by the Tel Aviv Soloists Ensemble under their conductor Barak Tal, presented by the American-Israel Cultural Foundation to a capacity crowd on 9 November 2003. The AICF was formed half a century ago to provide support for young artists at the start of their careers, amongst whom are such international artists as Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Yefim Bronfman, and more recently Gil Shaham and The Jerusalem Quartet.

Lior Navok
Lior Navok

The varied programme also included Britten, Haydn and Mozart, all of which displayed the finesse of this excellent group, formed in 1991 of leading young chamber and solo musicians from Israel, including the four members of the talented Aviv String Quartet amongst them. The conductor Barak Tal has a uniquely impressive style, avoiding simple time-beating in order to focus instead on gestural emphasis and pulse, eliciting the finest nuances of texture, dovetailing and dynamics from the players. His freedom and structural control infused the opening work, Britten's charming Simple Symphony, with poise and wit. The first movement's imitations came alive and the pizzicato second movement was coloured with delicate charm. Their interpretation of Mozart's Symphony in A K201 was also stylish, a buoyant first movement followed by a delicate and sensitive slow movement inflected with delicately etched motifs, and a bristling, yet crystalline finale.

In between were two concerto works. The German-born cellist Carolina Singer, who grew up in Spain, played Haydn's C major Cello Concerto with outstanding inspiration and spontaneity of expression. Singer studied in Spain and Israel, and is currently at Yale with Paradiso, has a refined and focused tone, with clear gestures, and virtuosity, as in the double-stopping of the finale. Her communication with Tal produced an optimistic interpretation, supported buoyantly by the orchestra. Her two cadenzas were concise yet intense, but it was in the slow movement that inner passion emerged with compelling expression. Hers is a talent not just of strength and power but also of individuality and character, as also shown in the short richly-coloured encore, Halverson's Handel Passacaglia, with the leader Sergei Ostrovsky also displaying great panache.

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Copyright © 6 January 2004 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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