Except for conductor Kurt Masur’s absence due to illness (Lahav Shani stood in
for him), there was no reason to be disappointed with the Israel Philharmonic
Orchestra’s season opening.
Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes (1919)
was the IPO’s nineminute tribute to modern music in this program. Soloist Rudolf
Buchbinder presented a classic performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano
Concerto. A notable personal touch was an attractive feature of the slow
movement. Its rendition savored every note and caressed every phrase with loving
care and sensitivity to the movement’s lyricism.
Although its transition
to the final movement was somewhat rushed, at the expense of its explosive
impact, the following Rondo was rendered with all the energy and sprightliness
The concert’s crowning glory was Mahler’s Symphony No. 1,
conducted by Shani. This work is a formidable challenge for a 24-year old IPO
debutante conductor. Shani demonstrated an astonishing combination of youthful
freshness and an amazingly mature approach to this demanding work.
was drive and continuous tension, with never a dull moment, making the audience
oblivious to the work’s hour-long duration.
Tempi were vibrantly flexible
and subtle nuances of dynamics abundant.
The many instrumental soli were
highlighted poignantly and the intricate orchestration’s transparency perfect.
The performance did no injustice to Mahler’s work.
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