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To follow, the violinist Ruth Waterman, partnered by Benjamin Frith, gave an impassioned, enthralling account of the Three Songs without Words by Paul Ben-Haim, Israel's most famous composer, and leader of the 'Eastern Mediterranean School' with its compelling East-West synthesis. The first 'Song' with its elegant long melodic lines over repeated pulsating colourful chords evoked the 'pitiless heat of the Judean Hills', as its programme intended, with just the right amount of rich melismatic ornamentation to imbue the suave French style with oriental spice. The second 'Song', intended to depict the 'monotonous babbling of an oriental story teller' was far from monotonous, in fact riveting with its ostinato motif relentlessly repeated yet flexibly expressive. The final eloquent 'Song' was moving, its harp-like piano flourishes overlaid with sustained ornamental turns, soaring high above in the violin, concluding with a searching, elusive mood.
A highlight of the concert was the thrilling performance of Yizkor by Rivka Golani, one of the most acclaimed of Partos' students. Golani underlined her sense of being privileged to have studied with such a great man, who had studied in Hungary with Hubay at the Budapest Academy, and was recruited to the fledgling Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1936 by Huberman. Partos became principal viola of the IPO and founder member of the Israel Quartet, and poignantly, this year was the centenary of his birth and the 30th anniversary of his death, as well as the 70th anniversary of the IPO. Golani's moving and incisive powerful performance was infused with a beautiful tone; Ben Ellin conducted the EMFEB orchestra with sensitivity and delicacy, as during the cadenza, where sustained violins cushioned the viola's striving strident chords with a soulful aura.
Copyright © 10 December 2007
Malcolm Miller, London UK