Cellist Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki presented an eye-opening survey of a fascinating and mostly neglected 20th-century musical movement at the Center for Jewish History on May 22. With contributions from violinist Avi Nagin and clarinetist Alec Manasse, the pair gave us a powerful representative sample of concert music from the New Jewish National School, and especially by cellist-composer Joachim Stutschewsky (1891-1982), with musicianship of the highest order...
Schwarz’s velvety, singing tone and Stutschewsky’s creative strength were both immediately on display in the folk-dance-influenced “Legend” at the top of the program. Gentle dissonances from the piano set the 20th-century scene as Schwarz showed brilliant dynamic control on the cello. Stutschewsky’s “Freylekhs: Improvisation” reworked Jewish folk songs into beautiful chamber music through the twin lenses, as I fancied I heard it, of Rachmaninoff and Gershwin.
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