Four Bs and one M

Jonathan Biss & Miriam Fried
Jerusalem Post


The Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival's sixth concert featured an immense diversity of works - four Bs, ranging from Bach to Bartok, via Beethoven and Busoni, with Mahler for variety's sake.

The program opened, like all this festival's concerts, with a movement from Bach's "Art of the Fugue." Slicing this monumental work up between 13 concerts is an original idea, no doubt, but is probably not what Bach intended. One can say with certainty, however, that he didn't intend the anachronistic use of a double-bass (Nabil Shehata) with Michael Barenboim's violin. The instruments' balance was out of focus - the violin sounded pale and the double-bass overshadowed others.

The program's highlight was Beethoven's "Archduke Trio" performed by Jonathan Biss, Miriam Fried and Tsvi Plesser. The combination of a master musician, such as Fried, with talented representatives of the younger generation, proved to be an enormously successful recipe. It resulted in a vibrant, clearly shaped and sharply accentuated rendition.

The trio was preceded by Bartok's "Sonata Nr. 2," performed by Fried and Biss in an excellent and thoroughly communicative piece.

Roman Trekel, in Mahler's "Songs of a Wayfarer," was a welcome newcomer among the familiar faces of the previous festivals. His appealing baritone sounded most sonorous in the lower register. He conveyed the songs' emotional complexity with profound sensitivity. The accompanying ensemble, conducted by clarinetist Karl-Heinz Steffens, occasionally overpowered Trekel's voice.