Yossi Arnheim, principal flutist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, also is a member of the Internet community. He wrote to me to ask if he could send me some of his CDs. I am glad to return his favor by reviewing them on Classical Net.
Apart from Arnheim's work with orchestras, he is involved in chamber music. One of his recent projects is a four-member ensemble named SheshBesh, and their self-titled CD is one of the discs that Arnheim sent me. SheshBesh reflects the diversity of the Israeli people via music from Northern Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Its four musicians are Israeli, but they themselves represent diverse heritages and backgrounds. Among SheshBesh's four members, experience in classical music, jazz, rock, blues, and other genres combines to give the ensemble a large musical vocabulary and a likable synergy.
The ten tracks on SheshBesh's CD are, for the most part, original works, but they are based on compositions and songs from places as different as Tadzhikistan and Iraq. "Amman Amman," which features atmospheric playing from Arnheim, is a particularly pretty selection, based on "a very old Andalusian Mowashach song." "Shortwave" alludes to the radio that composer-arranger Albert Piamenta heard Arabic melodies on; it's a fantasy on a composition by Hmaoui Abd Hamid that seems to speak of possibilities for increased human communication and cooperation, not just in the Middle East but world-wide. Oud player Yair Dalal is "a strong advocate for peace in Israel realising several projects with Palestinian musicians." That's what SheshBesh is all about: a meeting of talents, and a meeting of musical styles. I don't know anything about Middle Eastern music, so I make no intellectual comments on how "good" SheshBesh is at what they do, technically speaking. I can say, however, that I enjoyed this CD and its smartly exotic sounds. I can't afford a trip to Israel, but I feel like I understand its complexities and its people better now.
Arnheim's excellent work as a purely classical flutist is shown on 3 BACH. Big Daddy Johann Sebastian's popular Overture (also known as the Orchestral Suite #2) opens the disc, and is followed by wind concertos written by sons Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian. Arnheim is ebullient in the Overture, and seems particularly to relish the Badinerie, which has an uncommonly infectious bounce in this recording. The Flute Concerto is a surprising work that also exists in a version for harpsichord. The purposeful Allegro which opens the concerto is followed by a restful Un poco andante, and then by a closing Allegro di molto whose dramatic agitation is unexpected, given what preceded it. Uzi Shalev is associate principal bassoonist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. His account of J.C. Bach's Bassoon Concerto realizes the genial humor of the outer movements, and yet the central Largo ma non tanto shows that Shalev's bassoon can be a romantic too. Krécek and the Cappella Istropolitana, an ensemble based in Bratislava, provide good support, and Meridian's engineering is first-class.
Copyright © 1999, Raymond Tuttle