To celebrate composer Menahem Zur’s 70th birthday, his Violin Concerto (1978) was performed by his son Yonah Zur with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

Conducted by Frederic Chaslin on the eve of his 50th birthday, the concert was presented, as a matter of course, in the series entitled Beethoven Cycle. Why? Because! No relationship between Zur and Beethoven was indicated, neither in the program notes nor in the work itself.

The concerto’s solo part proceeds quite independently of the orchestra which functions frequently as a partner that has a say of its own. Abundant orchestral tone colors engage sometimes in responsorial, occasionally contrasting, attention-capturing dialogue with each other. Forceful energies are finally appeased by a relaxing calm that soothes the preceding turbulence as a peaceful conclusion.

For soloist Yonah Zur this performance was obviously a labor of love. He displayed discernible involvement, and overcame the work’s formidable technical demands with remarkable virtuosic skill.

There was drive, temperament and tension in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

It sounded impressive and well-rehearsed, including an appealing flute solo in the first movement. The opening Symphony No. 2, on the other hand, was rushed through hastily and indifferently, with many swallowed intermediate notes and without due attention to significant details.

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