JSO Israeli Premiere Jerusalem Theater March 12 Gil Shohat's "Concerto for Viola and a Large Orchestra" was performed by Amihai Gross with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in its local premiere, conducted by Elli Joffe. Composed when Shohat was a mere 23, the concerto is listener-friendly and does not assault ears that may be unaccustomed to modernist idioms and styles. The first movement's main theme sounds elegiac, spiced with abundant instrumental effects by the "large orchestra." In fact, the orchestral masses were so overpowering that they sometimes made it difficult for the solo viola to make itself heard. This is a typical weakness of young composers, who tend to let themselves be carried away by orchestra volume without paying due attention to the soloists' struggles. Toward the end, the work accumulates rhythmic energy, sustaining interest throughout. The piece is a noteworthy enrichment to the meager Israeli viola repertoire. Gross performed the technically demanding work with remarkable virtuosity and refined musical taste. Conductor Elli Jaffe held the orchestra firmly in his grip in Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony. The many instrumental solo passages were profiled clearly and transparently. The tempest was stormy indeed, and made one feel like rushing for shelter. In Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto Nr. 3," a small orchestral ensemble conducted itself. This is a procedure not recommended for musicians who are in obvious need of a guiding hand.