It was a super-popular Romantic program that the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra presented at the matinee concert last week – Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade and Rodrigo’s Aranjuez Guitar Concerto.

Such a program of often-heard works can be welcome if the performance is extraordinary. This was indeed the case with Sheherazade. The masterful conducting of the American Ryan McAdams impressively highlighted the work’s abundant tone colors, produced flexible, fresh-sounding tempi that had nothing mechanical about them, never leaving a dull moment, and created immense dramatic tension. Moreover, the orchestra sounded well-coordinated, excellently balanced and transparent and under perfect control. It was like hearing this familiar work for the first time.

Spanish guitarist Angel Romero presented a reasonable performance of the Aranjuez Concerto. In the fast movements he displayed accurate, sometimes electrifying rhythms. The slow movement sounded as sentimental as could be.  Those who like to indulge in sentimentality might have been happy with this performance.

Commentator Prof. Moshe Zuckerman helpfully reminded the audience of the works’ historical contexts.

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