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 dignitaries.

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 pianist.

As such, he displayed remarkable talent with an appealing, soft touch in the slow movement’s long solo passage, and brilliant virtuosity in the fast ones.

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.

The obligatory 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.