We enjoyed a charming concert on Friday afternoon with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. The program included classical ‘hits’ by Bizet, Ravel, and Respighi and one piece for Chinese Pipa (traditional Chinese lute).




The solist was the Chinese master and teacher in Pipa Zhang Hongyan and the conductor was Yaron Gottfried.

‘Zhang Hongyan graduated from the Central Conservatory (classes of Professors Zhang Shi Tsung, Sun Wei Tsi and Lin Shicheng) and attained her Master’s degree. Zhang Hongyan is one of the finest pipa performers and teachers. Her rich repertoire includes works by many composers. Zhang Hongyan frequently performs at the world’s most prestigious concert halls, among them Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center (New York), the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Goldener Saal of Vienna’s Musikverein and the Kennedy Center (Washington). On numerous occasions she has given lectures at the Universities of Columbia, Hong Kong City, Wales and Harvard, the National Grand Theatre of China, the University of Beijing and the Communication University of China. The list of works she has published includes scientific research and articles, literary prose, academic aids, CDs and DVDs. The American Library of Congress and the American Folklife Center house her special anthology disc of the Chinese musical masterpiece Ambush on All Sides.’





Yaron Gottfried is one of the most prominent musicians of his generation in Israel, a multidisciplinary artist who bridges classical,contemporary and jazz music. Gottfried held the position of Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra for 11 years between 2002-2013 with great success, presenting fresh innovative programs, packed halls, rave reviews and over 120 concerts in a season.

He graduated his studies at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem under Maestro Mendi Rodan. Gottfried’s conducting repertoire spans from the renaissance period to contemporary music. Gottfried is a frequent guest at Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, In October 2016 He was invited to substitute for Maestro Zubin Mehta and conduct all eleven season opening concerts with major artists such as Yefim Bronfman, Khatia Buniatishvili , Prague philharmonic choir among others. In January 2015 he led the IPO replacing Maestro Valery Gergiev at short
notice with an Israeli premier of Shostakovich 4th Symphony; the concert received rave reviews from the critics.




(video source


This is how the Chinese Pipa sounds in the hands of Zhang HongYan. She is playing here with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing. Yaron Gottfried is conducting, the recording is from 2011.


(video source


Yaron Gottfried in China again – this time at the piano playing jazz. This is the world premiere of his version of “Pictures at an exhibition – Remake” for Jazz trio and Ensemble after Mussorsgky, performed at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing


I wish A Happy New Year to all my friends – a 2017 with peace, good health, beautiful moments together with all your dear ones.
La Multi Ani!
Une Bonne Nouvelle Annee!
Shana Tova!
My musical present to start 2017 is Glenn Gould’s interpretation of the Brandenburg Concerto No 5 in D major, BWV 1050 by Bach.
Johann Sebastian Bach most likely completed his Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050, in 1721. This work is the fifth of six concertos the composer dedicated to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg. The offering was likely a sort of application for employment; Bach got no response, but these pieces have become some of his best-known material. Every one of the concertos is distinct, as are the composer’s sets of suites and partitas. Hearing the fifth concerto in the context of the rest of the set makes it clear that, apart from Bach‘s inimitable strength as a contrapuntist, the key to his ability to make music that is both sublime and entertaining lies in the fact that in his hands, everything is elastic. No other composer of the Baroque era could write through the constraints of form as if it was not there at all. Bach saw more options than anyone else, in form and in influence. The way he blended the Italian sound into his own in these concertos ennobled both Italian and German music. The scope of his vision and his relentless invention, making everything he wrote new, frustrates any attempt at comparison.’


Beautiful music for the last day of 2016.

‘The Piano Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97, by Ludwig van Beethoven is a piano trio for piano, violin, and cello, finished in 1811. It is commonly referred to as the Archduke Trio, because it was dedicated to Archduke Rudolph of Austria, the youngest of twelve children of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor. Rudolf was an amateur pianist and a patron, friend, and composition student of Beethoven. Beethoven dedicated a total of fourteen compositions to the Archduke, who dedicated one of his own to Beethoven in return.’

(source https://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Piano_Trio,_Op._97_(Beethoven))

The recording features Wilhelm Kempff on piano, Yehudi Menuhin on violin, and Mstislav Rostropovich on cello. It dates from 1974, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of UNESCO International Music Council.

(video source kinor65)

We know about the great musicians of the past only from written stories if they lived and played until the end of the 19th century. We can only imagine and read the stories of the contemporaries about the sound of the violin of Paganini, or the piano under the hands of Chopin or Liszt. Sound recordings started to be available at the end of the 19th century, and film rendition soon after, with film and sound synchronized since the end of the 20s. The great advantage of the artists playing today is that their music is available – if they allow, of course – for the times to come on recordings and films. More recently their lives and careers became also subject of documentary movies. Form now on not only their music but also their lives, characters, loves, families crisis can be documented for the posterity – if they allow so (or even if the do not, I guess).






I have seen three of them recently, all made in the last two years. The first was the closest to the traditional documentary genre retracing the life and career of the Hungarian-born conductor George Solti. The second one focused on how the Chinsese pianist Lang Lang grew up under the strong influence of his father and how he built a world-famous career starting from the very improbable career of a Chinese workers one-child family. Today I have seen Bloody Daughter, the documentary that Stephanie Argerich dedicated to her mother, the famous Argentinian pianist.


(video source EuroArtsChannel)


If somebody wanted a proof that it is practically impossible to live the life of a great artist and build a normative family with happy partners and children, Bloody Daughter is certainly one. Stephanie is the younger of the three daughters that Martha Argerich had with three different partners, and much of the film is dedicated into bringing together the pieces of the biography of a pianist who was another of these wonder children, raised and educated to be an artist – but also a beautiful woman, with a strong and unconventional character who decided to live her life as she wished to, placing her career at the highest priority. She is also a woman who does not have much of verbal communication skills, so although there is a lot of private footage of her on screen she talks very little about her art (and no great wisdom results) or even about her private life or feelings – we understand more from her looks, her facial expression, her eyes.


(video source mmoynan)


(video source DieVogelQDU)


Stephanie Argerich wanted this film to be not only about her mother but also about herself, her feelings, the relationship with her mother. There are implicit questions that she seems to want to ask her but never dares to. The puzzle of the family relations is carefully built in the first hour of the film, with the story of each one of the three daughters retraced and brought to its place. I would have personally wanted to dig more into the Jewish past of the family, but this seems to be a subject that neither Stephanie, nor Martha queried too much – maybe this is not that important to them, something buried in the past of Martha’s parents for unknown reasons never asked about. The last third of the movie does not bring too many new and interesting information about the great artist, and instead of the redundant family footage more music would have been preferable. Of course, this is just a personal opinion, but it might be shared by the many of us who love her art.







We spent a nice late morning and early afternoon in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art with two documentaries in the program of the 5th edition of the EPOS International Art Film Festival and a few exhibitions, one at least worth mentioning here. All three are related to artists who lived and created in the 20th century, and whose biographies were related – in different ways – to the wars of the 20th century and and the Holocaust.


(video source GeorgeSoltiAccademia)


The first one was also the best. The documentary ‘Maestro or Mephisto – The Real Georg Solti’ directed by Andy Kings-Dabbs and co-produced by the BBC covers the biography, the career, the life and personality of the Jewish Hungarian conductor who was a pupil and disciple of Bartok and Toscanini, dared involve himself in the reconstruction of the Opera houses in Munich and Frankfurt immediately after WWII, brought to fame and close to musical perfection the Covent Garden Opera and the Chicago Philharmonic. He was a perfectionist and not an easy person to work with, some disliked his style or his involvement in Germany after the Holocaust, but he left a legacy of wonderful music, he built orchestras and opera houses which remain until today among the finest in the world, and he also encouraged young talents (I did not know about his role in the career of Angela Gheorghiu). It’s a wonderful documentary film for music lovers, I found it on youTube – enjoy!


(video source ARTIS4YOU)


Otto Dix is one of my preferred artists in the 20th century art. The Canadian documentary ‘Ten Times Dix’ directed by Jennifer Alleyn did not throw too much new light on his life and work, but at least gave us the occasion to see again some of his best works gathered in the North American exhibition which I also have seen three years ago in New York, at the Neue Gallerie.


(video source GroupeLocomotion)


Unfortunately this film does not seem to be available on youTube. See above the trailer.





Before and in the break between the movies we could visit some of the exhibitions currently open in the museum. One which is worth a visit is of the Polish-Jewish sculptor Alina Szapocznikow. Born in 1926 her life and biography was marked by the Holocaust which she survived but which left her with a frail health. To some extent her biography and her art reminds the one of Frida Kahlo sharing the same focus on the suffering, human body, physical pain, and sexuality – all blended in the case of Szapocznikow with the influences of surrealism. There are many poignant works in this exhibition, I avoid using the word ‘beautiful’ as some of them shout in a manner that does not fit with the norms of nice aesthetics, but the pain seems they radiate feels authentic.


O bucurie in plus a acestui anotimp de sarbatori este aparitia la casa de discuri MediaPro Music a CD-ului cu colinde romanesti ‘O, ce veste minunata!’ al Angelei Gheorghiu. Este un eveniment muzical de prima importanta nu numai pentru diva noastra nationala ci si pentru genul foarte bine reprezentat in magazinele de muzica si cadouri de sezon din toata lumea al cantecelor de Craciun, eveniment care nu a trecut neobservat de criticii lumii, o cronica foarte favorabila aparand in cea mai prestigioasa revista a iubitorilor de muzica ‘Gramophone’ sub semnatura lui Jon Tolanski – Este genul de cronica care poate asigura o lansare si o frunoasa cariera internationala a CD-ului. In Romania el deja a obtinut Discul de Aur la o luna dupa lansare, si un Concert Festiv de Craciun la Sala Radio, precum si transmisiile la Radio Romania ii pot numai spori popularitatea. Am avut sansa sa cumpar discul la Carturesti in vizita mea la Bucuresti de la sfarsitul lui noiembrie si sa mi-l adaug colectiei de muzica apropiata sufletului meu.





Inregistrarile au fost facute in septembrie 2013 in Sala Radio din Bucuresti si in Studioul ISV. Angela Gheorghiu este acompaniata de Orchestra Nationala Radio dirijata de Tiberiu Soare, de corul Madrigal (care a sarbatorit in acest an 50 de ani de activitate) si de Corul Accoustic. Aranjamentele muzicale ale cantecelor populare sau apartinand unor compozitori romani din diferite perioade apartin lui Dan Dediu, Cristian Lolea si Constantin Arvinte.


(audio source MediaProMusic)


(audio source MediaProMusic)


(audio source Gabriela Dragoi)


Buna dimineata cu Mos Ajun si Mos Craciun al lui Dimitrie G. Kiriac ne introduc in atmosfera de sarbatoare. Trei crai de la rasarit este primul din cele sase cantece traditionale repovestind in frumosul limbaj al satului romanesc povestea Bunei Vestiri. Urmeaza Leganelul lui Iisus (sau Florile Dalbe a lui Valentin Teodorian) si Inchinarea pastorilor (traditional) care dezvolta aceeasi tema. Steaua sus rasare si Oce veste minunata sunt slagare eterne din repertoriul de sezon al traditiei romanesti. Inca o versiune din Florile Dalbe, cea a lui Tiberiu Popovici incepe cu o frumoasa tema rapsodica imbinata cu sunet de clopot, este poate cea mai frumoasa orchestratie a discului. Nasterea Domnului (Minune prea mare) de Paul Constantinescu este cea mai lunga si mai complexa piesa de pe disc si totusi se incadreaza bine melodic cu ansamblul. La Vitleem colo-n jos (traditional dar cu o orchestratie sofisticata si interesanta) si scurta Colindita de Emil Montia incheie regalul intr-o atmosfera exuberanta si sarbatoreasca.

Despre calitatile vocale exceptionale ale Angelei Gheorghiu nu este nevoie sa scriu. Ceea ce vreau sa remarc este respectul si vibratia sincera cu care artista abordeaza repertoriul traditional. In niciun moment nu se simte diva, ceea ce auzim este o cantareata intr-o forma de zile mari care lucreaza in perfecta armonie cu o orchestra si cu corurile, si care adauga fiecaruia dintre cantece vibratie si sentiment. Cu acest CD traditia romaneasca are o sansa sa intre si sa o ocupe un loc de cinste alaturi de alte reusite ale genului, sa incalzeasca caminele nu numai ale romanilor ci si ale iubitorilor de muzica de sarbatoare din intreaga lume.

Succes si Sarbatori Fericite!




An extra joy in this holiday season is provided by the launching by the label MediaPro Music of a CD with Romanian carols ‘Oh, what wonderful news’ sung Angela Gheorghiu . It is a musical event of the first importance not only for the Romanian diva but also for the genre of the Christmas songs well represented in music stores and gifts stores from around the world. The event has not gone unnoticed by musical critics, and a very favorable chronic appeared in the prestigious journal of the music lovers ‘Gramophone’ under the signature of Jon Tolanski - It’s the kind of chronic that can mean the start of a nice international career for the  CD. In Romania the already has already achieved Gold Record status just one month after launching, and a festive Christmas Concert Hall Radio and repeated broadcasts at Radio Romania can only enhance its popularity . I had the chance to buy the disc in a bookstore during my visit to Bucharest by the end of November and I added it to that section of my music collection that stands closest to my heart.





The recordings were made in September 2013 in the Radio Hall in Bucharest and at the ISV Studios. Angela Gheorghiu is accompanied by the National Radio Orchestra conducted by Tiberiu Soare, by the Madrigal choir (which this year celebrated 50 years of activity) and by the Accoustic Choir. The musical arrangements of popular songs or belonging to Romanian composers from different periods belong to Dan Dediu, Cristian Constantin, and Lolea Arvinte .


(audio source MediaProMusic)


(audio source MediaProMusic)


(audio source Gabriela Dragoi)
Buna Dimineata la Mos Ajun (Good Morning on Santa’s Eve) and Mos Craciun (Santa) by Dimitrie G. Kiriac open introducing us in the mood for celebration . Trei Crai de la Rasarit (Three Magi from the East) is the first of the six traditional songs, retelling the story of the Annunciation in the beautiful language of the Romanian village. Leganelul lui Iisus (Jesus’ Small Craddle) (or Florile Dalbe – White Flowers – by Valentin Teodorian ) and the traditional Inchinarea pastorilor (Sheppphers Worship) develop the same theme. Steaua sus rasare (The Star Rises Above) and O, ce veste minunata (What A Wonderful News) belong to the eternal seasonal repertoire in the Romanian tradition. Another version of Florile Dalbe (White Flowers) composed by Tiberiu Popovici begins with a rhapsodic theme combined with beautiful bell sounds and offers perhaps the most beautiful orchestration of the disc. Nasterea Domnului (Nativity of the Lord) by Paul Constantinescu is the longest and most complex song on the disc , yet fits well with the overall atmosphere. La Vileem colo jos (Down there in Bethlehem ( again a traditional song, but enriched with a sophisticated and interesting orchestration) and the short Colinda (Carol) by Emil Montia conclude the disk in a exuberant atmosphere of celebration.

About Angela Gheorghiu’s exceptional vocal qualities I do not need to write. What I notice is the respect and the vibrant emotion with which the artist approaches the traditional repertoire. At no moment we can feel the diva, what we hear is a singer in a great shape who works in perfect harmony with the orchestra and chorus, adding vibrancy and deep feelings to each of the songs. With this CD precious jewels of the Romanian tradition have a chance to enter and take a place of honor alongside other succesesl of the genre, to heat not only the households of the Romanians but enriching also the celebrations of music lovers worldwide.

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

It’s a sad day for the Israeli music and culture. Arik Einstein is dead. For folks who do not know that well Israel, Arik’s loss is like if Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen (may them live long and happy lives) would go. A symbol of the Israeli culture, a symbol of his generation. I know no better way to honor musicians who go than playing their music. Here is one I love, it’s called Me and You, the music belongs to Miki Gabrielov, the words are Arik’s:

Me and You,
We will change the world
Me and You,
And then all the other will join …





Este o zi trista pentru muzica si cultura israeliena. Ieri seara a murit Arik Einstein. Pentru cei care cunosc mai putin Israelul, pierdera lui Arik este similara pentru israelieni cu cea a unui Bob Dylan sau Leonard Cohen (sa fie sanatosi si sa cante pana la adanci batraneti). A fost un simbol al culturii israeliene si al generatiei sale. Nu cunosc o modalitate mai buna de a onora amintirea unui muzician care a plecat dintre noi decat a-i asculta muzica. Iata un cantec pe care il iubesc in mod special, se numeste Eu si Tu. Muzica este compusa de Miki Gabrielov, cuvintele ii apartin lui Arik:

Eu si Tu,
Vom schimba lumea
Eu si Tu,
Si atunci toti ni se vor alatura …



A few more below. There are so many. A year and two ago the Israeli Army Radio dedicated a special broadcast for his music, they played a full day of his beautiful songs, and it was not enough.

Inca cateva in continuare. Sunt atat de multe. Acum un an sau doi Galei Zahal (postul de radio al armatei) a dedicat o emisiune speciala muzicii sale, o zi intreaga de transmisie, si nu a fost destul pentru a le reda pe toate.



יהי זכרו ברוך

May his memory be blessed

Fie-i amintirea binecuvantata


This ambitious project realized 15 years ago and directed by Francois Girard uses a not completely new pretext for its story line retracing 300 years of history of a superb violin manufactured at the end of the 17th century, a violin born in tragedy and seeming to carry unusual passion and power which marks the destinies of all its successive owners. When watching this film we cross centuries, countries, continents following the destiny of an unusual instrument which seems to be hiding the special gifts making wonderful sounds, but also a curse for the fate of its owners. An object that ignites art and passion.





The story telling predicts by a few years the novels of Dan Brown and the like, and we deal in parallel with the chronological told story of the violin and with the intrigues behind the scenes of the public auction in which it is sold at the end of the 20th century. As the story develops we understand that the participants in the bid are also related to the history of the instrument, descendants of its previous owners, connected also through a destiny predicted in cards of tarot, which is also revealed gradually as the story progresses.


(video source Basstango)


15 years after the film was made its music and some of its independent story segments survive better than the whole. Violinist Joshua Bell was the musical consultant and probably played much of the score, which makes for some very interesting but out of the beaten track music. I liked it, but do not expect to hear any famous scores, you will need to listen carefully to understand the passion and appreciate the quality. The short stories in the history are all well written but also a little bit conventional, characters are drawn with attention, and love for music. The connection between the episodes is not so well made, the five cards can be a transition trick that works well on TV, but the jumps in time and the changes of hands of the owners are too sketchy for a big screen movie. The final episode (of the public auction) introduces an element of suspense which I found again to be a little too conventional and not really in tune with the rest of the story. A little bit like a musical composition with many beautiful passages but lacking strength in composition and a ‘finale’ to remember.

The concert last night at Mercaz Einav in Tel Aviv featured the Israeli pianist Amir Katz in the first out of two programs of Beethoven Sonatas (the second will take place in May 2013). The last and by far most famous piece in the program was Apassionata. Unfortunately I could not find Katz’s interpretation on the net, so I decided to write something about him, and then present four interpretations composing two full versions of the well know piece of glory in the world piano repertory.




Amir Katz was born in Haifa in 1973 and grew as a nurtured talent which turned into a fine pianist which seems to enjoy playing mostly the Romantic piano repertory – Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin – and lately Beethoven whose sonatas are the core of his performances programs this season. He has a beautiful presence, is very accurate and technical, what maybe surprised me was the apparent too strong reliance on technique and less on emotion, untypical for a Romantic piano specialist. The first two sonatas in the program sounded … well … very un-Beethoven, and even the Liszt piece at the ‘encore’ was very un-Liszt. Not bad, strong, well played, but lacking passion. It was only the Apassionata that seemed to unchain his emotional energy as well, and his version of the difficult, stormy, tumultuous piece was very good.


(video source Amir Katz)


What I did find on Amir’s channel on youTube is another piece by Liszt ‘Paganini’s Etude nr. 2 in E flat major’- great interpretation, if that one was in the program last night together with Appassionata.


(video source theoshow2)


There is no need to write many words about Piano Sonata no. 23 by Beethoven. It was composed between 1804 and 1806, and named Appassionata after his death. It is one of the most vigorous and temperamental pieces of piano in the Romantic and world music, it demands virtuosity and deep resonance to render its whole beauty and complexity and it deserves its name.

Sviatoslaw Richter’s recording of the first movement is presented above.


(video source ValentinaLisitsa)


Valentina Lisitsa plays the second movement in the recording above.


(video source conception3)

Above, Claudio Arau plays the final part.

(video source ArioniaTellus)


Here is the full piece in the version of Daniel Barenboim

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