Review by Leah Hollingsworth
The Israeli Chamber Project played with character and aplomb in this concert at Merkin Hall. The dense score of Weber's Clarinet Quintet was performed with a rich depth that may have seemed a mire overbearing but which conveyed a confident and charismatic energy.
André Caplet's Conte fantastique began with an arresting reading of Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death - on which the piece was based - by actor Michael Cumsty. A sinister entry by violist Dov Scheindlin and cellist Michal Korman gave way to a tumultuous and brilliantly executed performance by all members of the quintet (string quartet and harp). Complex rhythms and myriad extended techniques were well executed and embodied the disturbing and dramatic nature of the text effectively. The piece reached a frenetic climax that verged exhilaratingly on losing control. The ensemble playing was fantastic and harpist Sivan Magen was particularly vibrant.
Although by the end of Brahms's Piano Quintet the string players were obviously fatigued, their performance of this marvellous music was as passionate and heartfelt as the earlier works. Korman's introduction to the finale's theme was absolutely stunning - light but not trite, and played with an optimistic sound tinged with sadness and depth.