The Daily Star : Festival Irtijal
The Daily Star
Hilarious, outrageous, lyrical and oddly optimistic
April 14, 2012 12:02 AM By Jim Quilty
(…) Irtijal closed Thursday evening with “Diptyques,” a program of short works by Lebanese composer Zad Moultaka.
The lion’s share of the performance though was shouldered by members of the Franco-Lebanese quintet Ensemble Mezwej.
With the exception of “Saisons,” a 13-minute piece drawing upon the ensemble’s full resources, most of the evening’s works took the form of musical dialogues between two of the performers, sometimes refracted through electronic media.
Least interesting, somehow, was the evening’s opening piece – the eight-minute “Armoise” for clarinet and video – in which Armand Angster played along to a projected French-language monologue.
More engaging was “Artificiale 1,” which sees Christophe Desjardins’ viola solo – set against a recording of North-African-sounding folk music – which was unexpectedly spirited.
Desjardins’ was one of the stand-out performances of the evening – also accompanying soprano Francoise Kubler in the seven-minute “Five haikus for viola and voice.”
His reception was second only to that of guitarist Pablo Marquez, who excelled in both “Mystere des Mysteres,” his duet with cellist Anja Lechner, and the weighty 22-minute solo work “Calvario for guitar” – performed against a projection describing the Passion of Christ, but not his resurrection.
The evening’s final note was “Ene beki,” for orchestra choir and soloist. Laced with lyrics from the poems of Mahmoud Darwish and Giorgos Seferis, Moultaka’s composition was performed by the Orchestre du Lycee Racine and the Antonine University choir with soprano Nadine Nassar.
The piece left you feeling inexplicably enthusiastic about the future.