Concerts celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Page 1 of 3The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra: Celebrating 75 RECENT ENTRIESYears of Music Making Opera at the Salzburg Summer FestivalBy Dr. Irving Spitz on September 13, 2011 5:06 PM | Comments | Of the three new productions, one was outstanding, one academic and the thirdThis year is the 75th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), traditional.The 2011 Salzburg Festival featured six full…originally known as the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra and founded by the By Dr. Irving Spitzviolinist Bronislaw Huberman. The inaugural concert was conducted by ArturoToscanini in December 1936. The current season also celebrated the 50 year The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra:anniversary of Zubin Mehta’s first appearance with the IPO. He was appointedmusic director in 1977 and music director for life in 1981. To commemorate Celebrating 75 Years of Musicthese milestones, the IPO put on special performances. Making This year is the 75th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), originally knownThe pianist Daniel Barenboim performed all five Beethoven piano concertos in as the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra and…two concerts with Zubin Mehta and the IPO. In the concert that I attended, he By Dr. Irving Spitzgave a most memorable account of the second, third and fourth concertos.Barenboim’s stamina is phenomenal. How many pianists can play three Jerusalems Season of Culture: Anconcertos in one evening? The last time I heard such a tour de force was innovative approach spanning thewith the legendary Arthur Rubinstein with the same orchestra in Jerusalem worlds of music, dance, poetry andin the early 70’s. I also once heard, Barenboim playing the two gigantic philosophyBrahms concerti in a single concert in New York. This year saw the inauguration of the first Jerusalem Season of Culture. One of the highlyRehearsal time seemed to have been minimum. This showed though in the acclaimed events of this…rendition of the second piano concerto where in the first movement, piano and By Dr. Irving Spitzorchestra were not always in perfect unison and some of the orchestralentrances were somewhat tentative. However everything came together in theadagio slow movement where conductor, orchestra and pianist were in perfectunison. The music just flowed and pianist and orchestra ended the thirdmovement with a flourish. The influence of Haydn and Mozart in this concerto(which was actually Beethoven’s first piano concerto) was very evident.Barenboim’s deeply probing account of the more mature third concerto wasrevelatory. Once again, he captured all the subtleties of the largo and wasaccompanied by very accomplished woodwind playing. There was also a wellarticulated powerful introspective rendering of the fourth piano concerto withbeautiful nuanced playing. Again, most impressive of all was the andante conmoto slow movement. His tempi and emphasis were right on the mark. Againbrass, woodwinds and strings played admirably. The ebullient final movementended with a flourish and brought the dramatic concert to a fitting end. Barenboim’s interpretation can serve as a gold standard with which one canjudge future performances.At this concert at the home base of the IPO in Tel Aviv’s Mann auditorium,there were two huge screens on either side of the stage where pianist,
Page 2 of 3conductor and orchestra were projected. I have never seen this before in aconcert hall although it is a well established practice in large open airperformances. This is a good idea and gives the audience sitting on the rightside of the hall the possibility of visualizing the pianist’s finger-work. Howeverto be fully effective, the camera crew must have an understanding of the score.In this instance, the cameras were not always appropriately focused on the keyevent of the moment.In another show stopping event, Zubin Mehta gave an incandescent renderingof Schoenberg’s Gurreliede with the IPO. In addition to his prowess as anoperatic conductor, Mehta excels in the repertoire of Mahler, Stravinsky,Shostakovich, Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School. He clearly feels agreat affinity for Gurreliede which he has conducted previously with the IPOand as I recollect, it was the last work he conducted as he concluded his 13 yeartenure with the New York Philharmonic.Gurreliede is based on poems by the Danish novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen andrevolves around the love of the Danish king Waldemar for his mistress Tovewho was murdered by Waldemars jealous Queen.Schoenberg began the project in 1900 in a late-romantic style influenced byWagner, Bruckner and Mahler. He soon abandoned it and spent most of thedecade developing his atonal 12-tone music for which he is associated today.Later, he returned to the score and completed the orchestration. The work waspremiered in 1913. By this time, Schoenberg had completely abandoned thisromantic style.This large scale choral work requires a huge orchestra, two choirs and five vocalsoloists as well as a narrator. The IPO responded appropriately and strings,percussion, brass and woodwind played impeccably. All vocal soloists wereimpressive. Particularly noteworthy were soprano Jennifer Wilson as Tove andmezzo-soprano Daniela Denschlag as the Wood Dove. Tenor Daniel Kirch wasan excellent Waldemar. Also making significant contributions were the PraguePhilharmonic Choir and the Gary Bertini Israeli Choir. Gurreliede representeda fitting climax to a noteworthy season.From where I was sitting in the Mann Auditorium, acoustics seemed somewhatmuffled and wooden. The auditorium has been in continuous use since itopened in 1957 and is scheduled to undergo acoustic renewal andrefurbishment over the next year. In the following season, concerts will beperformed in other venues in the city. One hopes that these structuralalterations will enhance the acoustics of this Tel Aviv landmark.