Concert Review: Israel Sinfonietta

Renowned violinist Maxim Vengerov is following in the footsteps of Russian cellist Rostropovich and making the transition from soloist to conductor.

May 11, 2010 07:37
1 minute read.
Concert Review: Israel Sinfonietta

Conductor 88 248. (photo credit: )


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Israel Sinfonietta
Maxim Vengerov,
Beersheba Arts Complex, May 8

Internationally renowned violinist Maxim Vengerov is following in the footsteps of Russian cellist Rostropovich and making the transition from soloist to conductor. Vengerov’s stick technique is still rudimentary, but he carries within himself the sound that he wants the orchestra to project, and communicates its round elegance, by way of telepathy, to the players and the audience. He conducts with instinctive responses and visceral gestures, as if he were stroking the Sinfonietta, but it is the sense of discipline, concentration, focus, timing, artistic vision and commitment that he brings to the podium and imparts to his players that made his performances memorable.

The program opened with a mellow and stylized presentation of Max Bruch’s Romance for Viola and Orchestra, Op. 85 by Israel violist Gilad Karni.

He was joined by Sinfonietta concertmaster Yaron Prensky in a smooth, flowing and expressive presentation of W.A. Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364. Their coordination was near-perfect and their sheer joy in performing together was obvious from the first note. Particularly impressive were the imaginative and piquant bowings both Prensky and Karni used to articulate the character of motifs and themes – stroking multiple up-bow staccatos, quick down-bow ricochets, spiccato in the fast passages, now at the tip, then slowly easing the tone legato towards the frog; a remarkably rich vocabulary of masterful motions that delighted the ear and the eye.

Vengerov then led a persuasive and spacious performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. It was a traditional interpretation that impressed for its intensity, incisive tempi, breadth of architecture, and emphasis on detail.

A special number, the warmly loving cavatina from Beethoven’s Late String Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 130, was added to the program in memory of the late Mendi Rodan (1929-2009), who as music director led the Sinfonietta with ferocious vigor from 1975 to 1991.

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