Review: Klezmer Concerto with IU Philharmonic

Bendix-Balgley, IU Philharmonic deliver masterful concert

Bloomington Herald-Tribune,

Peter Jacobi, February 8th, 2018

Wednesday’s repertoire included Bendix-Balgley’s own “Fidl-Fantazye: A Klezmer Concerto”, an engaging work to test the composer/violinist’s own technical chops…The tall, youthfully slim Bendix-Balgley entered the stage with almost shy manner by smiling, too…Orchestra and Maestro Mechetti in place, they wasted not a moment in getting down to business. “Business” was a score often mesmerizing, sometimes alluring, and virtually always to the klezmer point: music of a genre that originated in Eastern Europe, bulging with folk and Jewish and gypsy traditions.

Bendix-Balgley has written for himself, and others to come, a highly demanding piece with the trickiest embroidery, rhythms that twist dramatically and unexpectedly, and strong feeling of improvisation (though the music is fully scored) and a sense of joyous abandon. Portions seem to dance the night away. Others are dreamy, even reflective of times gone by. In composition and in performance the creator/soloist recaptured the soul of a world disrupted by the horrors of the Holocaust, but thankfully, never lost.

Bendix-Balgley grew up with the music; his father is a dance master and klezmer devotee who encouraged his son’s interest.

He obviously learned well. His music contains the mark of authenticity. And it was fun to hear, particularly when played with such zest and brilliance by both the composer and the collaborating orchestra. One should know Bendix-Balgley is not the sole creator of the work. He composed the violin part and a piano reduction. for orchestration and completion, he called upon composer Samuel Adler, “a wonderful collaborator” in the violinist’s words. The finished product deserves further attention; it’s delightful entertainment.

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