Bermuda Festival Review: Duo Amal

February 14, 2013

30461[Written by Rajai Denbrook and Rennika Trott] They set a fire in the hearts, minds, and bellies of all those in attendance at the Earl Cameron Theatre, City Hall that evening.

Bishara Haroni and Yaron Kohlberg of the piano duo, Duo Amal, certainly lived up to their name, as they demonstrated what music can achieve when people come together to make it, with complete and utter generosity for one another.

Playing not just for themselves, but for the audience, the duo took everyone through a varied, challenging, and quirk-filled program of compositions, who’s composers in one way or another challenged the form, which in turn gave these exceptionally talented pianists the room to flex their inspiring sense of musicality.

Wasting no time and plunging everyone into the proverbial deep-end, the duo began on the same piano with a soulful and dynamic rendition of Schubert’s Fantasy For Piano, Four Hands, in F minor.

Beginning with a haunting tune, the pair played the piece as if they were having a conversation about the bright highs and deep lows of life, one minute soaring on the keys, the next minute returning to the dark melody that began the piece, playing with such skilled conviction to tell any number of stories.

Next was the piece Karsilama, commissioned by the duo from composer Avner Dorman and completed in 2012.

Grossly rhythmic and entirely tiring, the pair played at their own instruments this time, sharing the melody at different points, and somehow finding their way through a meandering and wonderfully chaotic piece, obviously enjoying the challenge and story that the ambitious and unique piece presented.

The first half was brought to a close with Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony Op 25, described as a neoclassical piece and composed in 1917, the duo certainly found themselves at home in the harmonically progressive composition, definitely leaving the audience in sweet anticipation for the second half.

Opening the final half of the evening was another piece commissioned by the duo, this time by composer Samir Odde Tamimi called Amal.

An abstract piece begun with Mr. Haroni plucking the strings of the piano, and much of it focusing on the lower registers of the piano though accentuated by harsh beautiful highs, the duo allowed the audience to experience the depth and profundity of their musical range with an oddly dynamic piece that stilled the theatre completely, allowing a beautiful silence to resonate through the space once it was complete.

As Mr. Kohlberg said, there was a reason the piece was played in the second half and not the first, as he explained it was not uncommon for audience members to leave after it was played, if it was played during the first half.

Finally the inspiring pair rounded out the programme with Rachmaninov’s Fantaisie – Tableaux for Two pianos, the most familiarly “Classical” of the all the pieces, though not in anyway less challenging or insightful.

Video below showing ‘Duo Amal’ last year:

The pair finished the recital by allowing a piece that required space to evolve, to do just that; their sensitive and generous playing allowing the piece to breathe and come to life with all of the beautiful subtleties the composition had to offer.

Of course, they had to come out and bow four times, and of course, there was an encore, returning to the light and energetic yet still profound material used in the first half of the evening, as if leaving the audience with a small nugget of wisdom for them to make sense of for themselves.

With much love for each other developed through their shared love of music, the pair took the audience through an utterly unpretentious and thoroughly passionate evening of piano playing that served as an affirmation, in many ways, of what can be achieved when differences of any sort are set aside and a commitment to the joyful realization of a common good is made the priority.

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