The Israel Camerata Jerusalem

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Israel Camerata Jerusalem "Sacred and Profane".

Pamela Hickman
Pamela Hickman's Concert Critique Blog

"Bringing its 25th season to a festive end, the Israel Camerata Jerusalem presented “Sacred and Profane”, the sixth concert in “The Human Voice” series June 29th 2009 at the Henry Crown Symphony Hall of the Jerusalem Theatre. Commemorating 200 years of Felix Mendelssohn’s birth, the program included two works by the composer, one by his sister Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, the concert opening with Aharon Harlap’s “Psalms”.

"Harlap’s orchestration is masterful, lush and expressive; clarinet and vocal line are both prominent and part of the texture. Psalm 113 was joyful and had jazzy colorings, with Psalm 43 contrasting in its vehemence and poignancy. Israeli soprano Efrat Carmoush, aware of each verbal- and musical gesture, gave a meaningful performance of the work. Her voice boasts color and presence. Clarinetist Ilan Schul’s performance was lyrical and polished.

"...In the Camerata concert, we heard the Israeli premiere of “Hiob” (Job) – a cantata for choir and orchestra, a work of meticulous structure, excellent orchestration and layered choral writing. Fanny Mendelssohn’s strong grounding in late Baroque music (her only son was named Sebastian) makes itself felt. The Chamber Choir of the Jerusalem Academy of Music’s (Stanley Sperber – conductor and musical director) performance was finely chiseled, its training, technique and musicianship giving expression to the rich texturing of the work as well as to the verbal text.

"...Built of seven sections, Biron opened with the first, much-loved chorus paced not too fast, the result being a clean, poignant and impressively noble reading of the movement. This was, indeed, a highlight of the concert. In the second section, the superb oboe accompaniment played by Muki Zohar, sets the scene for Carmoush’s expressive treatment of “Meine Seele duerstet nach Gott” (My Soul Thirsts for God). Her German pronunciation is pleasing and clear.

"... From the outset, the Camerata’s fine woodwind section gave authenticity to the typical Mendelssohn orchestration of this exuberant work. The second movement – Andante con moto – was played with delicacy and charm. In the fourth movement, a saltarello – a Neapolitan dance of hops and leaps - Biron gives Mendelssohn’s dynamics front stage, yet still sketching in fine, filigree melodic lines. Avner Biron is leading the Israel Camerata Jerusalem from strength to strength. His programming is creative, offering orchestral concerts of a high quality that delight his audiences".