The Israeli Chamber Project is that rarest of creatures: a band of world-class soloists that is not a muster of peacocks, but a hive mind in which egos dissolve and players think, breathe and play as one. Founded in 2008, the ensemble has at its core five Juilliard alumni in their thirties from Israel: clarinetist Tibi Cziger, cellist Michal Korman, harpist Sivan Magen, pianist Assaff Weisman and violinist Itamar Zorman.
The ICP’s spellbinding debut recording, Opus 1 (Azica), showcases the group’s probing music-making. For all the feral dread of Matan Porat’s Night Horses (2007), Cziger turns in coolly elegant playing, while Korman helms a seductive account of Debussy’s Cello Sonata. Last season at Merkin, the group served up dewy Mozart and poised but roiling Schumann (the Fantasiestücke, Op. 73). And its members shine as musical citizens, too: Several times a year, they travel to underserved kibbutzim and Arab communities back home to give concerts, teach and play alongside local youngsters.
In what should prove the group’s breakout season, its New York programs will include Bartók’s Contrasts, which it dispatches with breezy virtuosity on Opus 1 (David McCarroll takes the violin part on Tuesday at Merkin Concert Hall); the U.S. premiere of Zohar Sharon’s Ice Palace at Town Hall (February 9, 2014); and a Lowell Liebermann premiere at the group’s Merkin season finale (May 28, 2014). You can also catch Weisman in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the New Amsterdam Symphony (at Symphony Space on November 8) and 2013 Avery Fisher Career Grant winner Zorman in the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Greenwich Village Orchestra (at Washington Irving Auditorium on November 17).—Marion Lignana Rosenberg