Collection: The Israeli Connection

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Braun,Eilam-Amzallag,Geffen,Ravel,Schulhoff,Shemer & Lazi´c,Sheriff,Talmi
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Works by Ravel, Schulhoff, Sheriff, Talmi, Eilam-Amzallag, Braun, Geffen, Shemer & Lazi´c
PERFORMER: Sharon Bezaly (flute, narrator) Dejan Lazic (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-959

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Sharon Bezaly’s compilation of flute pieces with Israeli connections is three-quarters full of fascinating and unusual 20th-century repertoire. The remaining space, however, is taken up with less inspirational fare. But there are some real gems, such as Ravel’s Kaddisch, a richly haunting setting of the Hebrew prayer of mourning. Bezaly plays it with a trembling, saturated sadness yet manages to avoid oversentimentalising.

Again, both Eilam-Amzallag’s Desolation and Sheriff’s Arabesque conjure melancholic images, but Bezaly’s approach is down-to-earth, making them, curiously, all the more tragic. Her dramatic, throaty tone changes to a sparkly, lighter sound for the capricious nature of Schulhoff’s Flute Sonata (1927), which immediately enhances its exotic combination of Middle-Eastern and Western harmonies and fuels the inventive melodies.

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It’s time this sonata gained greater recognition. Pop artists Aviv Geffen and Naomi Shemer have had less trouble finding fame. Both enjoy considerable exposure in Israel, but I’m not convinced this CD is the appropriate place for their slushy tunes to receive more. There’s already enough indulgence with Apartment to Let, a long-winded, narration-led children’s piece, and Lazic’s set of variations on the popular folksong ‘Hava Nagila’. Kate Sherriff