Review — Pictures of Israel
Dr. Robert Forman, San Diego Jewish Press Heritage
The highlight of the evening was the dramatic, spellbinding descriptive work by David Hush. A resident of Australia, Hush was in the audience for the premiere performance of his composition. Pictures of Israel is a commissioned work by the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity. The work divides into five movements: ‘Shalom’, ‘A World Beyond’, ‘Folk Dance’, ‘Reflection’ and ‘Affirmation’.
The unusual combination of instruments — violin, flute, contrabass, and tabla — attest to the sensitivity and insight of the composer and his awareness of Israel’s environs. The use of the contrabass rather than cello or other low-pitched instrument gave an obvious tonality to the ensemble with special resonance. The challenge of that part was possible to achieve because of the virtuosity of Bert Turetzky.
The tabla, a high-pitched drum and a low-pitched drum, commonly played in conjunction with the sitar, is well-known in India and Middle Eastern countries. Audiences who have developed appreciation of Western Hemisphere music are generally unaware of the vast, sophisticated music of the Orient.
The skill of playing this instrument was admirably proved by Terry Longshore, a teacher at UCSD and at California State University at San Marcos.
Using the tabla to provide the repeated pulsation and monotone of the Israeli desert landscape was a brilliant choice by the composer.
The most impressive movement, a mesmerising sequence, was performed by the unaccompanied contrabass.
The musical patterns, similar to the ragas of India, with the intense commitment of the player, provided a musical experience seldom realized in unaccompanied, solo bass playing.
The composition, in its final section, was an amalgamation of the sustained melody of the violin, played muted at times, the repeated rhythm of the tabla, and the pizzicato of the contrabass.