Classical Review: IPO

An Israeli First Performance, Jerusalem ICC, June 29.

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Andres Mustonen (photo credit: SASSON TIRAM)
The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Andres Mustonen
(photo credit: SASSON TIRAM)
A first IPO performance of an Israeli work was presented by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in its recent concert – Lior Navok’s First Fruits.
The work’s title suggests the question of whether the fruits are already ripe or not. Those of Navok seem to be an adolescent manipulation of sonorities – tensionless and directionless sounds without linear development, coming from nowhere and leading nowhere. Solo and sometimes duo motifs take turns on the background of an undefinable orchestral tutti conglomerate. This first attempt of an obviously fairly talented young composer may prove useful whenever a local orchestra needs a 12-minute made-in-Israel piece to open a concert.
The program’s central work was Sibelius’ Violin Concerto – the same piece that had already been performed earlier this month as part of the Israel Festival to celebrate the composer’s same 150th birthday. This was a masterpiece of program coordination between orchestras.
The soloist, Leonidas Kavakos, turned out to be a veritable master of dynamics. Starting with an almost inaudible, delicate pianissimo, he very gradually proceeded to a forcefully songful sound, concluding with an enchantingly subtle, caressing tone. Sensitively conveying the lyrical mood of the slow movement, he then made the final one sparkle with all the energy and brilliant virtuosity it requires.
Conductor Gianandrea Noseda presented an accurate rendition of Schumann’s Symphony No. 2. Too-hurried and mechanical tempi did not quite suggest Schumann’s nervosity and tortured soul.