Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Bernard Foccroulle’s On the Verge of the Night
are about as liturgical as, say, Bizet’s Carmen. Why they were classified as
such, in a concert series entitled “Liturgical” by the Jerusalem Symphony
Orchestra, remains a mystery.
In the song cycle On the Verge of the
Night, Foccroulle (b. 1953) sets poems by Rainer Maria Rilke to music. Each song
highlights diverse solo instruments of the orchestra, cautiously underlining the
text’s structure, and sensitively capturing each poem’s mood and atmosphere
without gliding into melodious banalities. This inventive interplay of
instrumental sonorities, orchestral tutti and the vocal and the musical
interpretation of the text is what makes the work attractive and appealing.
Anastasia Klevan’s bright soprano blended in harmoniously with the
Performing Beethoven’s Ninth is quite an ambitious undertaking
by the JSO, conducted by Frederic Chaslin. In the opening Allegro, the conductor
blissfully ignored the caption “ma non troppo, un poco maestoso” (“but not too
fast, a little majestic”), making the movement sound hurried, matter-of-fact,
and eliminating its mysterious quality.
The Scherzo’s haste lacked short
breathing rests between phrases that therefore flowed into each other, diluting
the movement’s tremendous energies.
The work’s great choral climax was
achieved accurately and solemnly, though without much enthusiasm.
female soli, soprano Edit Zamir and mezzo-soprano Ayala Zimbler, evoked
compassion with the efforts of their weak and lusterless voices.
Braun’s friendly bass-baritone was appropriately authoritative in the opening
recitative, but tended to vanish on the concluding low notes.
It was a
well-meant, competently rehearsed performance – but Beethoven’s Ninth deserves