‘Ibelieve in classical music – it is my religion,” says Israeli pianist and composer Ilan Rechtman, 49. “I think that if the entire world had listened to classical music, this world would have been a much better place to live in. I believe this is the art that can express the most subtle and intimate feelings of a human being. For me, it is spiritual.
Serving music is like being a priest or a rabbi; the only difference is that the concert hall is my church, my synagogue. I could have stayed with my own art – performing and composing music – but it turned out that I’m quite effective as an organizer and producer, and by this I can make a difference. True, it is not easy, and quite often I say enough is enough.
But, honestly, I owe it to myself, just to feel that I’ve come into this world for something beyond physical pleasures.”
Born into the family of veteran IPO member Mordechai Rechtman – arranger, bassoon player and conductor – Rechtman went to study in the US and spent many years abroad, living in Brazil and Berlin. On his return to Israel a few years ago, he became the music director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art music programs.
Soon the concerts at the museum’s Recanati Auditorium were the hottest tickets in town.
Using his international connections, the soft-spoken introvert manages to bring the best soloists of the younger generation who are making it big in Europe but are still unknown in Israel.
These usually highly paid artists generously agree to perform for a nominal fee or even for free, which is crucial for the museum’s limited budget. Knowing the tastes and the mentality of local audiences, Rechtman creates programs that no music lover would want to miss and, being in tune with the times, he brings multimedia tools into the concerts – but in good measure – such as short video clips, which are shot during rehearsals and introduce the new artists to the public.
Rechtman describes his audience as not easy and demanding. “These tough people will thank the musicians with wild shouts of ‘Bravo!’ if they enjoyed the performance or they simply will not applaud if they did not. And they won’t hesitate to call me to say what they thought of an unsuccessful evening. But most of them are knowledgeable people who come to the concerts because they love music and not because that is what is accepted in their crowd.”
As for the repertoire, he says he plays to the musician’s strengths. “If an artist excels in playing Mozart but wants to perform Beethoven, at which he/she is not as good, I ask him/her to stick with Mozart this time – and it works.”
Last year’s programs featured concerts with leading chamber ensembles and soloists who came to Israel especially to performances at the museum, as well as those who came to perform with major local orchestras and appeared at the museum with a few orchestra members.
This season, the series has grown significantly. As always, there are two Signature series, featuring the Aviv, Jerusalem and American String Quartets, the Tempest Trio (which opens the season on October 13), as well as international stars, such as pianist Itamar Golan, violinist Julian Rachlin and clarinetist Sharon Kam.
The Exclusive series (the concerts that take place in the museum galleries) has doubled due to its popularity. Another series, that of Baroque music, features Barrocade, the IPO soloists and the Baroque Soloists of Tel Aviv.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Jerusalem Quartet undertakes a true music feat, performing all the string quartets by Shostakovich during Hanukka. “Listening to the entire cycle requires a significant effort on the part of the audience as well, and I am pleased to learn that the ticket sales are brisk,” says Rechtman.
But probably the major change is the introduction of the new Symphonic Series, La Tempesta dei Solisti, in which the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, The Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Camerata and other orchestras will participate.
The program features major solo concerti, such as Tchaikovsky’s and Mendelssohn’s violin concerti, Elgar’s cello concerto, and Liszt’s and Schumann's piano concerti.
“I can already hear the criticism,” says Rechtman. “Granted, the Recanati Auditorium is rather small for a symphony orchestra, but as a musician I don’t see anything wrong with hearing strong and powerful music.”
Among those who will conduct the orchestras are “wonderful maestro David Lockington from the US and Claudio Cruz from Brazil – a fantastic violinist and conductor – who have never conducted in Israel, and others, such as Frederic Chaslin and one of the world’s leading harpsichord players and conductors, Shalev Ad-El.”
Among the soloists of the Symphonic Series, Rechtman names the newly appointed principal violinist of the Berlin Philharmonic, Daishin Kashimoto.For the season’s program and reservations, visit www.tamuseum.com