Complementary strengths meet on the bridge
February 25, 2014
The enterprising concert series Musical Bridges
Around the World is in the midst of its inaugural “Music
Without Borders” festival, a farrago of jazz, flamenco,
Indian and Western classical programs.
The Duo Amal, heard Sunday afternoon in Ruth Taylor Recital
Hall, exemplifies the notion of music without borders: The
duo comprises classical pianists Bishara Haroni, a
Palestinian born in Nazareth, and Yaron Kohlberg, an Israeli
born in Jerusalem. The word “amal” is Arabic for “hope.”
There was no explicitly political content in
their program, which was strongly tilted to Russian
composers — Serge Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony in a
two-piano arrangement by the Japanese composer Rikuya
Terashima, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Concertino for Two Pianos
and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 1. The recital opened
with Franz Schubert’s epic Fantasia in F Minor for piano
four hands. One Israeli composer was represented — Avner
Dorman’s delightful “Karsilana.”
The two pianists shared a muscularity and an ample technical
arsenal colored by complementary strengths. Mr. Haroni was
the more sensuous of the two, more probing in his phrasing,
and his tone was more consistently beautiful on both of the
Steinways. (The two players switched back and forth.) Mr.
Kohlberg’s touch was more percussive, his wit more deadpan
(effectively so) in Shostakovich and Prokofiev, and his
phrasing a little more contained, although some passages,
such as the dreamy third movement of Rachmaninoff’s Suite
(“The Tears”), revealed great generosity of feeling.
The entire program was compellingly played, but most
memorable was the Schubert, in which the two conveyed the
full depth of the music’s anguish and tenderness while
maintaining firm control.
Dorman’s “Karsilama” — the name refers to a Turkish folk
dance that spread to much of the old Ottoman Empire — lasted
less than five minutes but was nicely filled with jazzy,
percussive, rhythmically exciting enjoyment.