Maestro Valerie Gergiev 311.
(photo credit: courtesy)
Next week (January 6-8), the Red Sea Classical Festival in Eilat marks its first
decade of successful endeavor with a typically robust program. Over the last 10
years Russian conductor Valery Gergiev has overseen most of the artistic content
and wielded the baton over the Mariinsky Opera House Orchestra and Choir in
spacious Hangar 6 of the port city.
This year’s agenda opens with the
music from Sergei Prokofiev’s stirring two-part operaWar and Peace, based on the
Tolstoy novel. The expansive performance (at 9 p.m.), with Gergiev on the
podium, involves more than 200 participants, including 60 vocalists and a full
The first concert on the second day sees Justus Frantz
conducting Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (1 p.m.), with Gergiev returning for the
evening performance (9:30 p.m.) of Verdi’s Requiem. The last day of the festival
opens with Gergiev conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (2 p.m.), while the
Mariinsky Opera Choir will be in full voice for the closing program of works by
such composers as Rachmaninoff, Borodin and Tchaikovsky. Andrei Petrenko will
direct onstage events for the 8:30 p.m. concert.
While the musical
activities in the cavernous 2,400-capacity Hangar 6 are very much on a grand
scale, each year the festival also includes an entertaining program of chamber
music performances in a 350-seat hall at the King Solomon Hotel. “They are much
more intimate than the symphonic concerts,” observes Ilan Rechtman, who assumed
responsibility for the festival’s chamber music program time this year. “The
first concert [entitled A Cello Celebration] is quite a large affair, but the
other four are based on a small format.”
Since his return to Israel after
a two decade-plus sojourn in the States, pianist Rechtman has made his mark on
the local music scene as both a player and a content manager. In the latter area
he is best known in his role as artistic director of the chamber music series at
the Museum of Tel Aviv, a position he has filled since 2008. It was there that
Rechtman introduced a new dimension to the musical proceedings, which will also
be employed in Eilat.
“It’s a sort of multimedia thing with two-minute
documentary film clips before each work,” he explains. “The clips have short
interview with the composer or maybe the main performing artist, who talk about
themselves or about the work. I think that adds information for the audience in
an entertaining way.”
Mind you, the audiovisual element did not go
initially go down too well with everyone. “In the first year, I got some very
angry reactions to the clips from some of the hardcore people in the audience. I
even got threats and loads of complaints. Some people demanded my
Thankfully, things settled down in Rechtman’s second season
in Tel Aviv and the clips are now an integral part of the program in Tel Aviv –
as they will be in Eilat this year, which will also convey the names of the
The Cello Celebration concert features 12 cellists
and soprano Alla Vasilevitsky, a recent olah from the FSU who appeared in
Rechtman’s series in Tel Aviv earlier this year.
Vasilevitsky and the
dozen instrumentalists will perform a program of works by various composers,
including Bach, Villa- Lobos and Casals.
The chamber music program also
incorporates all five Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano.
also doing his best to promote local talent by including premieres of works by
three Israeli composers – Jan Rajinsky, Shulamit Ran and Rechtman himself. There
will also be a work by Israeli composer-pianist Menahem Wisenberg, who will join
forces with cellist Zvi Plesser on Saturday for the 5 p.m. recital of
Beethoven’s Sonata No. 1 in F Major for Piano and Cello, Rajinsky’s Sonata No. 1
for Piano and Cello, and Schumann’s Fantasy in C.
For more information
about the Red Sea Classical Festival: www.redsea-classic.co.il