The Arty Semite

Jazz Jews and Classical Wunderkinder

By Benjamin Ivry

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This autumn’s Manhattan concert calendar contains celebrations both of Jewish musical youth and age, as if offering alternating songs of innocence and experience. Experience comes first, from October 19 to 24, when Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola presents an 85th birthday party for Newport Jazz Festival impresario George Wein. Among the celebrants will be Jazz Jews such as the trumpeter Randy Brecker and sax and flute player Lew Tabackin.

From October 26 to 30, Dizzy’s turns the same venue over to youth, in the form of the Eyal Vilner Big Band. The Tel Aviv-born alto sax and clarinet player Vilner boasts a fluid sense of swing. No less artful is the San Francisco-born jazz pianist Don Friedman, who takes over Dizzy’s for two sets on November 8.

Classical fans also have a rich choice of musicians starting their careers, and others already well-entrenched in audience popularity. The young Israeli pianists Ran Dank and Roman Rabinovich are not yet household names, but they should be, as an October 8 group recital presented by International Performing Artists at Zankel Hall, will prove.

Another Israeli-born talent, Bracha Malkin, a violinist of dramatic temperament, performs Mendelssohn and Ravel at Weill Recital Hall on October 17. The dazzling Israeli clarinetist Moran Katz plays on October 26 at Steinway Hall as part of a Salon De Virtuosi gala concert.

After all these newcomers, it will be heartwarming to re-experience familiar artistry on October 22 and 24, when the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents “An Evening with Mozart” featuring violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi, born in Tel Aviv in 1941.

Music lovers need no urging to experience unsurpassed artists such as Hungarian Jewish pianist András Schiff playing Schumann at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium on October 26, and New York’s own Murray Perahia, also at Stern Auditorium, playing Bach and Brahms on November 18th.

On October 27 at the 92nd Street Y, pianist Joseph Kalichstein in his Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio will perform with guest artists, including violist Michael Tree (born Michael Efrem Applebaum), late of the now-disbanded Guarneri Quartet.

Roy Malan’s 2004 biography of another Jewish string player, “Efrem Zimbalist: A Life” from Amadeus Press, informs us that Tree’s father Samuel Applebaum, a beloved teacher, remarked about his son’s proposed name change: “The only member of our family who would be happy about that is our dog!” With such a rich selection of concerts to choose from, not only the dog need be happy this concert season.

Listen to the Eyal Vilner Big Band in April, playing the standard by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II, “Lover Come Back to Me.”

Watch pianist Ran Dank performing Chopin last year.


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