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The season opener of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra was a Marathon concert conducted by Ilan Volkov, dedicated to the memory of the recently deceased Viennese-born American-Jewish composer-conductor Lucas Foss. He was a former music director of this orchestra - a minor detail not even mentioned in the program notes.
When Foss introduced Marathon concerts to this country for the first time some forty years ago, they were still a novelty here, and as such held a certain attraction. However, the charm of novelty having since worn off, they have become a mere patience test, lasting three and a half fatiguing hours. Accordingly, the audience voted with its feet, leaving many seats empty.
The aperitif was a one-hour-long chamber music sequence. Whether in a city where chamber music concerts are presented regularly every week at various venues there is really an urgent need for them to be performed by the JSO too, just to inflate the Marathon, remains an open question. Outstanding among some standard performancees of pieces by Haydn and Ravel was harpist Gittit Boasson's rendition of Ravel's Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Winds and Strings. It was delicate, clearly articulated and flexibly flowing.
The truncated introduction to Haydn's Creation without a choir leading up to the climactic "And there was light," and its subsequent pasting, without a break, to his "Seven Last Words of Christ," was a grotesque aberration of taste. Remarkable in Haydn's Horn Signal Symphony's finale were carefully polished soli by the cello, flute, horn, violin and double bass, each in its own turn.
In Ravel's Sheherezade, Maya Lahyani displayed a sonorous, warm and appealing mezzo-soprano.
The long evening's concluding highlight was Yaron Kohlberg's electrifying performance of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major. His touch was caressingly soft and light, yet also energetic, expressing youthful fervor - technically brilliant - and poignantly highlighting the work's jazzy elements.