A five-star concert – Yuval Gotlibovich was brilliant in the chamber music festival in Tampere

Yuval Gotlibovich was one of the cornerstones of Tampere Chamber Music Festival.

The last night of the successful Tampere Chamber Music Festival was a true endurance test even for the most hardcore music fan: 3 hours of Johannes Brahms’ demanding piano quartets, one per hour.  If the level of the performances hadn’t risen all through the evening, exhaustion would have been guaranteed. One element remained the same through the concert: the brilliant Israeli viola artist Yuval Gotlibovich was the only one playing in all three piano quartets.

In fact, Gotlibovich’s work load suited festival’s theme of the relationship between music and health. If his performance would have been measured, the figures would tell a lot about the physical and emotional pressure experienced by the musician during a concert.  There is so much strenuous playing in these quartets that Gotlibovich was finally forced to shake his muscles like a top athlete during his short breaks.

And then he pounced again at Brahms with everything he could! The viola is often a bit out of the spotlight in quartets, and the lack of its input in the orchestra’s vocals would only be felt when it suddenly no longer existed. The presence of Gotlibovich was however significant. It’s rare to hear viola  played with such a clarity, purity and glow, in a violin-like way. He elevated his instrument proudly to the same level with violin, cello and piano.

Musicians in trance!

The highlight of the night was Brahms’ second piano quartet which usually lasts about 50 minutes, but now it took almost an hour!  As if violinist Priya Mitchell, viola artist Gotlibovich, cellist Robert Cohen and pianist Heini Kärkkäinen had played with such inspiration, positively in trance, that they didn’t want the experience to end. Their playing was magnificent!

The performance of quartet in G minor was nearly as wonderful. The violin was now played by Minna Pensola, a masterful chamber musician known for Meta4, and the piano by Roope Gröndahl.

Along with the lush, warm melody, the fierce gipsy dance of the finale comes to mind. In the third quartet violin was played by Réka Szilvay, cello by Tuomas Lehto, piano by Gröndahl and viola by Gotlibovich.

Out of the three line-ups this one was overshadowed by the other two in the quality of tone and expression of music. However, the piece was the most difficult and abstract one of the night.

Aamulehti, 21.01.2017