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West-Eastern Divan Ensemble

Friday, February 28, 2020 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
Michael Barenboim by Marcus Höhn
Schubert’s and Mendelssohn’s vivacity delight, while Schoenberg and a new work by a French composer fascinate. Schubert’s Rondo resembles a mini violin concerto with a virtuosic solo part, and Mendelssohn’s Octet has a bustling energy and beautiful melodies that make it his most popular chamber work. The West-Eastern Divan Ensemble, led by the orchestra’s concertmaster Michael Barenboim, bring its youthful energy to this remarkable music. The ensemble draws upon players of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra—founded by Daniel Barenboim and the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said—to promote coexistence and intercultural dialogue by bringing young Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs together to make music.


West-Eastern Divan Ensemble
Michael Barenboim, Violin


SCHUBERT Rondo in A Major for Violin and Strings, D. 438


TARTINI Devil's Trill Sonata

MENDELSSOHN Octet in E-flat Major

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.

At a Glance

SCHUBERT  Rondo in A Major for Violin and Strings, D. 438

This charming Rondo is one of a series of works that Schubert wrote with his older brother Ferdinand (who was an outstanding violinist) in mind. The music is almost concerto-like in its blend of virtuosity, lyricism, and drama. Although the Rondo is usually played by a string orchestra, the scoring also allows for a chamber-style performance with string quartet accompaniment.


BENJAMIN ATTAHIR  Jawb for String Octet

French composer, violinist, and conductor Benjamin Attahir studied at the Conservatoire de Toulouse and later at the Conservatoire de Paris with Marc-André Dalbavie and Gérard Pesson. His new chamber work, Jawb (commissioned by the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble), receives its New York premiere this evening.


TARTINI  Violin Sonata in G Minor, “Devil’s Trill”

One of the most celebrated virtuosos of the 18th century, Tartini composed hundreds of violin sonatas and concertos for his own use. The Violin Sonata in G Minor, nicknamed “Devil’s Trill,” exemplifies both the pyrotechnical wizardry and the long-breathed cantabile style for which the Italian was famous.


MENDELSSOHN  Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20

Mendelssohn was all of 16 when wrote this breathtaking masterpiece in 1825. A few months earlier, Luigi Cherubini—the influential director of the Paris Conservatoire—had invited the young prodigy to study there under his supervision. Instead, Mendelssohn opted to continue his general studies at the university in Berlin, where he somehow found time to compose the Octet by mid-October.


West-Eastern Divan Ensemble

The West-Eastern Divan Ensemble draws upon players of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and is led by the orchestra’s concertmaster, Michael Barenboim. Founded in 1999, the origins of ...

The West-Eastern Divan Ensemble draws upon players of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and is led by the orchestra’s concertmaster, Michael Barenboim. Founded in 1999, the origins of the orchestra lie in the conversations between its founders, Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim. Over the course of their great friendship, the Palestinian author-scholar and Israeli conductor-pianist discussed ideas on music, culture, and humanity. In their exchanges, they realized the urgent need for an alternative way to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The opportunity to do this came when Mr. Barenboim and Mr. Said initiated the first workshop, using their experience as a model. This evolved into the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra that global audiences know today. The group is composed of Arab and Israeli musicians, defying fierce political divides in the Middle East and globally. Through its work and existence, they demonstrate that bridges can be built to encourage people to listen to the narrative of the other.

The West-Eastern Divan Ensemble is the most recent imprint of this project, bringing the highly praised artistry of the large orchestra into an intimate chamber music format. As the orchestra celebrates its 20th anniversary, Michael Barenboim—who has recently appeared as soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among many others—founded this ensemble to spread the ideas behind the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra even further, and to give the public an opportunity to experience the musicians’ unique artistry and personality up close.

Michael Barenboim
Samir Naser Abdel Hamid Obaido
Yamen Saadi
David Strongin

Miriam Manasherov
Sindy Mohamed

Assif Binness
Astrig Spidak Siranossian

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Michael Barenboim

While committed to the core Classical and Romantic repertoire, Michael Barenboim is deeply invested in and especially recognized for his performances of 20th-century and contemporary music.  ...

While committed to the core Classical and Romantic repertoire, Michael Barenboim is deeply invested in and especially recognized for his performances of 20th-century and contemporary music. He celebrates a long history of collaboration with the late Pierre Boulez, whose works he regularly performs. His second solo recording—which features works by Sciarrino, Berio, and Paganini—was released in 2018 and acclaimed by critics.

Recent highlights include debuts with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and with Robert Trevino and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, as well as performances of Glazunov’s Violin Concerto with the San Diego Symphony and Dresdner Philharmonie. Mr. Barenboim’s debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker featured his critically acclaimed performance of Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto, and followed debuts with the Vienna and Israel philharmonic orchestras and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, performing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, and with the BBC Philharmonic, performing Berg’s Violin Concerto.

In the 2019–2020 season, Mr. Barenboim makes his debut with the Orchestre national d’Île-de-France, with which he performs Ligeti’s Violin Concerto on tour with Case Scaglione, and with the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse in a performance of Dutilleux’s Violin Concerto with Fabien Gabel. He also returns to the George Enescu Festival to perform Jörg Widmann’s Violin Concerto No. 1, and reprises Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto at the Musikverein with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Pinchas Steinberg. In addition, he performs trios with Daniel Barenboim and Kian Soltani at the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin.

Mr. Barenboim is a founding member of the Erlenbusch String Quartet, and frequently performs at the Lucerne, Verbier, and Aix-en-Provence festivals, in addition to the Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival. He collaborates regularly with his mother, pianist Elena Bashkirova, as well as artists who include Frans Helmerson, Julian Steckel, Guy Braunstein, Sir András Schiff, and Martha Argerich. He serves as concertmaster of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and cultivates a continuous and strong involvement in educational activities. Mr. Barenboim is head of chamber music at the Barenboim-Said Academy and gives master classes around the world.

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