Berlioz- "Romeo and Juliet"
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Yoel Levi
Mann Auditorium, Tel-Aviv
Berlioz's "Romeo and Juliet" is one strange piece. Composed in the unconventional form of a "Dramatic Symphony", it employs a choir, three soloists (each singing a rather insignificant role), and a huge orchestra. The music varies dramatically in its emotional power: at parts it is wonderfully soothing, and at others, lengthy and unfocused. Unfortunately, the latter is the more common.
The reading also had its advantages and disadvantages. As expected, the first on the "pros" column was the excellent Prague Philharmonic choir. With 21 singers on the first part of the concert and over a hundred on the second, it managed to elicit a heavenly, soft sound, masterfully projecting the romantic nature of the music. The second participant who stood out was mezzo-soprano Julia Gertseva, whose singing was not only sonorous and warm ,but also truly touching. Unfortunately, her part in the piece is disappointingly small.
Yoel Levi's led the huge ensemble by heart as always, and with a sure and precise hand. However, his somewhat technocratic conducting failed to infuse the music with sufficient zeal or excitement. And so, although technically accomplished, this concert seemed to have left the Tel-Aviv audience rather low on the enthusiasm scale.