To celebrate its season opening and also its 75th anniversary, the Jerusalem
Symphony Orchestra presented an almost all-20th-century program, except for
Beethoven as the only Classic.
Beethoven may well have felt like a
displaced person in this environment, considered semi-modern today and as
super-innovative in its day.
Why an orchestra founded in 1936, as stated
correctly in the program notes, should celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2012/13
was not explained in the enthusiastic congratulatory speeches by numerous
The soloist in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major, Francis
Chaslin, demonstrated that, like Bruno Walter, Leonard Bernstein, Christoph
Eschenbach and Daniel Barenboim, he too is a conductor who is also a
As such, he displayed remarkable talent with an appealing, soft
touch in the slow movement’s long solo passage, and brilliant virtuosity in the
In this work, Chaslin courteously offered his baton to Jacques
Attali, an economist-financier who also conducts.
Ravel’s work was
unreasonably placed at the concert’s opening, possibly to honor president Shimon
Peres with the possibility of calling it a day, or rather a night, and retiring
at once after the performance of his friend Attali.
Israeli work was Oedeon Partos’ Ein Gev. Not surprisingly, this was also the
program’s shortest item.
The concert’s main attraction was Stravinsky’s
Firebird. Its abundant instrumental tone colors, dramatic effects and exciting
contrasts were rendered with forceful impressiveness. It also sounded as though
it had been granted most of the orchestra’s rehearsal time, noticeably at the
expense of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, that was rushed through indifferently at
breathless speed, with nonchalantly swallowed intermediate notes and a lack of
aristocratic elegance in the Menuetto.