Presenting the Israeli Chamber Project – Opus 1

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As superb as the performances are on this recording, and as enjoyable as the program of works is (more on those later), the story of the Israeli Chamber Project should also be told.

The Project is made up of a group of musicians playing an unlikely group of instruments: clarinet, cello, harp, piano, violin and viola. After winning the 2011 Israeli Ministry of Culture Outstanding Ensemble Award, the Israeli Chamber Project (ICP) has gone on to perform all over the globe, having recently played to a sold out audience at Carnegie Hall’s adjunct Weill Hall. The ICP’s mission statement: “The Israeli Chamber Project is dedicated to bringing a unique musical experience to a worldwide audience.” This new Azica CD is a perfect embodiment of that principle.

The cover of the CD booklet shows a very youthful group of musicians. After listening to the first 15 minutes or so, I was so bowled over by the level of musicianship I was hearing, that I needed to see who these players were. Violinist Itamar Zorman won the top prize at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition and has performed with the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. Prize winner at both the Gaspar Cassado and Enescu International Cello Competitions, cellist Michal Korman has been a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, and with the Tokyo Philharmonic. Shmuel Katz is principal violist with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and plays regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Their credentials explain their excellence.

The program is a fresh sounding group of works that takes advantage of the instrumental diversity of the ICP. It opens with the lovely and exotic Fantaisie for Violin and Harp by Saint-Saens followed by Martinu’s Musique de Chambre No. 1 for clarinet, violin, viola, cello, harp and piano. Next is the world premiere recording of a work by Israeli composer Matan Porat titled Night Horses for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (the instrumentation of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time incidentally). The two remaining works are Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano arranged for harp and piano (another premiere recording) and Bartok’s Contrasts for clarinet, violin and piano. This is great music, and it is performed note-perfect.

On the front cover of the CD booklet reads “Opus 1″. I hope that means there will be more coming from the Israeli Chamber Project. This group deserves the widest possible audience, and I expect that they are going to get it.

For more videos visit: http://www.israelichamberproject.org/icp_en/watch-listen/video