piano keys 88.
(photo credit: )
Performing Arts Center
The Israel Sinfonietta's 2008-2009 season closed with an all-Russian program, "From Russia with Love," at the new arts complex in Beersheba. It was a large production, bringing two orchestras together on one stage. The Sinfonietta joined forces with the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra to tackle big romantic works by Rachmaninoff (Piano Concerto No. 2, op. 18) and Tchaikovsky (Symphony No. 6, op. 74, Pathetique), both staples of the symphonic repertory, and certainly a change of pace for the Negev.
Both groups gave their all under conductor/music director Doron Salomon. But the difference in style between the two orchestras was pronounced. The Sinfonietta added Slavic temperament to its playing, while the Kibbutzniks took a laid-back approach. The solo winds - especially the clarinet - added a lot of spunk, while the lower brass added energy and push. The string sound and phrasing, however, was too often absorbed onstage before the tones reached the hall. We saw their efforts and knew what they were trying to do, but we didn't get the impact.
Georgian pianist Alexander Korsantia, now residing in America, was a wonderful surprise. Crouching over the keyboard, dressed all in black, he tossed off the concerto with ease and style, projecting the image of a major pianistic talent.
The atmosphere that Salomon and the orchestra tried to create in the Pathetique was marred by the dry recording-studio acoustics of the hall. Everything was audible, but it needed the mixing of a sound technician to achieve a blend. This is a concert facility geared to modern ears, groomed on recorded sound, DJs and disco. It has all kinds of technical potential, which undoubtedly will be realized - something equivalent to Beersheba's version of the Pompidou Center in Paris. Once the sound system gets adjusted, adds resonance and achieves balance, it should be a real asset.
It is beautiful, though, made of metal and glass - even the chairs are made of metal and upholstered in red with matching curtains. Physically, the 800-seat auditorium is wider than it is deep - about 20 rows of 40 seats each - with sloped seating creating the illusion that the stage is tilted, like a theater set. We see each and every player perfectly - something that we often miss in conventional concert halls.