Last drinks in the Arnold Schoenberg lounge

I’m recovering in the refreshment area of Jerusalem Music Centre after three concerts of music by Israeli composers, written over 70 years.


Much of it was incredibly intense – two clarinet quintets by Gideon Lewinsohn and Yoav Talmi – better known as an international conductor – leave no place to hide. Lewinsohn demands a higher than average level of player participation, ordering them to decide aleatorically on the order of movements. Talmi has each of the string players produce a different tapping noise from his or her instrument.

The pianist Ofra Yitzkahi crafted a revelatory recital of Bach pieces interspersed by works of Seter, Shlonsky, Gelbrun and Ben-Haim, unexpectedly intuitive.

But the knockout piece was a 35-year old work by Mark Kopytman for Yemenite soloist and orchestra in which the dedicatee, Gila Beshari, confronts a Mahler-sized orchestra without fear or favour, delivering her songs with the force of a Shakespearian tempest.

This is among the most performed works by a modern Israeli composer. I’ll try to find a clip.

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  • Yikes. The only palatable music from Israel I have encountered was by Josef Tal, Ami Maayani, Paul Ben-Haim, and Marc Lavry. And only Lavry is truly digestible, musical.

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