by Guytano Parks

Keaton-The-GeneralChamberFest Cleveland again presented Movie Night — back by popular demand — for their second season as part of this year’s 10-day schedule of creative programs on Thursday, June 27 at The Cedar Lee Theatre, followed by a cabaret-style concert by ChamberFest artists at The Wine Spot.

Israeli-born pianist and composer Matan Porat, a ChamberFest artist, improvised on piano during the 1926 silent film, The General, written and directed by Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman and based on Daring & Suffering: A History of the Great Train Adventure by William Pittenger. ChamberFest’s Artistic Director Franklin Cohen said in his brief welcoming remarks that Porat “had no idea what he was going to play” during the screening. But Porat obviously had an arsenal of material up his sleeves, improvising non-stop for the entire 75-minute duration of the film. Whether intended or not, I detected the musical and stylistic influences of several different composers including Prokofiev, Hindemith, Wagner, Stravinsky and even Beethoven.

Melodic themes were established and repeated for certain characters and situations as was a myriad of exciting mood-setting and scene-defining interludes. I presume that this was all rather reactionary and in-the-moment as the pianist watched the events unfold on screen. Porat’s formidable piano technique and his abilities as a composer were very apparent, making for an extremely enjoyable and successful performance.

Immediately following the film and after taking a short walk up the street to The Wine Spot, the second half of the evening’s musical events continued with wine tasting and a selection of finger food. Violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti and percussionist Steve Moretti began the informal cabaret-style performance with movements from Djembach by Christian Woehr, each prefaced by a poem read by violinist Moretti. Percussionist Moretti played the djembe, an African hand drum, creating a vast array of rhythmic and surprisingly expressive sounds to mesh with the violinist’s inspired and dynamic playing. Together they performed with style and gusto, full of subtle nuance and excitement.

Retrato de Alfredo Gobbi by Piazzolla came next as additional ChamberFest artists violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley, violinist/violist Yehonatan Berick, violinist and ChamberFest Artistic Director Diana Cohen and bassist Scott Dixon joined violinist Moretti and percussionist Moretti (this time playing the cajon). The performance was suave and exotic, brimming with fascinating details and rhythmic energy and proved to be a real crowd-pleaser.

Hopefully the tradition will continue and Movie Night will be included on the schedule of future ChamberFest Cleveland seasons.

Published on July 9, 2013

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