Israel’s greatest living violinist, many say the world’s greatest, Maxim Vengerov played a mixed programme with the Russian pianist Polina Osetinskaya on Monday at the Barbican Hall: they first visited Germany – the two Schumanns and Brahms – and after the interval returned to their native Russia and Prokofiev.
Any performance by Vengerov is hugely compelling and this was no different. One had to wonder, though, how much harder it must be for him to perform just now. He has said that Israel, the country to which he moved with his parents and grandmother when he was 16, is “in my genes”. He studied in Jerusalem, and founded a music school, Musicians of Tomorrow, in the north of Israel; and when he brought his Vengerov Festival, a tribute to great composers and violinists, to Tel Aviv after the 2014 Gaza War, he invited residents from the south of the country to come as his guests.
Music triumphs, and Vengerov brought his formidable passion to the enrapt audience at the Barbican. In the first half he embraced lyricism and wistfulness with Clara Schumann’s Three Romances For Violin and Piano and Robert Schumann’s Violin Sonata No 3 in A minor. Sandwiched between them was the Brahms Scherzo from F-A-E Sonata, into which he puts so much energy, and reaches so far, that it seems any moment he and his instrument will be lifted into the air. The Prokofiev was a chance for both Vengerov and Osetinskaya to display their virtuosity, especially in the lively Violin Sonata No 2.
At the end of the programme, we heard Vengerov’s voice: he told the audience how pleased he was to be there, and introduced the first encore, a piece he said was very close to his heart – it was Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, and was followed by a Prokofiev march. Desperate mourning and then the sound of war: we didn’t need to look far for the inspiration. A final encore was another work by Rachmaninov, in the year marking 150 years since his birth, his Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini – 18th variation, which felt like the peace for which we are all praying.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.