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Meir Ariel - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
July 19th, 2001
03:15 pm

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Meir Ariel
Last night I went to a concert in memory of Meir Ariel, an Israeli singer/songwriter who died two years ago. I am a great admirer of Ariel's work, and in particular I appreciate his gift for language: he used the most fascinating Hebrew in his song lyrics, and his style is unique.

The concert consisted of various artists and bands (61 people in all!) performing songs written by Ariel. Very few songs of his were "covered" while he was alive, but after he died, the family and some musician friends founded a society to promote his legacy, and they produced this concert, and a similar one last year, where his songs are performed by others. The concert featured many younger artists, unlike the one last year, which featured exclusively well-established Israeli musicians, such as Shalom Hanoch and Yehudit Ravits.

The performances were mostly good. Some were only middling, one was bad, and a couple of songs were performed very well indeed. One performance shone high above the rest: Shlomi Shaban performing Ariel's Da'awin Shel Shir Mecha'ah. This is Ariel's longest song, and one of his lesser-known songs, owing to obscure lyrics, mostly. Shaban played the piano and sang, and the result was absolutely magical: his piano playing was flamboyant, vivid, and expressive, and his singing precise and emotional. It seems he has really captured the spirit in which Ariel wrote and composed the song, back when Shaban himself was a suckling baby... Shaban's interpretation and impeccable timing, coupled with genuine piano mastery and amazing talent, left the audience clamoring and applauding for long minutes, despite Yoav Kuttner's attempt to proceed to the next number. That performance alone was worth the 120 NIS the concert cost (all proceeds go to that Ariel commemoration society -- all artists volunteered their time and efforts).

The concert was recorded and should be commercially available on CD in the future, and I urge you to buy it if you like anything by Meir Ariel. Shaban's performance is worth the CD's price alone, but is not the only worthwhile piece on it.

Next week, I plan to join the Ariel family and other Ariel admirers at his grave, marking two years since his death. For more information (in Hebrew) about Meir Ariel, I recommend the Meir Ariel site, maintained by the indefatigable Ofir Zwebner.

Current Mood: exhilirated
Current Music: Meir Ariel - Shir Ke'ev

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