Classical Review: Mendi Rodan Orchestra

Season opening: YMCA, January 5.

January 14, 2017 21:03
1 minute read.
Violin player

Violin player (illustrative photo). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The world premiere of an Israeli work, Jonathan Keren’s SymphoniCantata, was performed in the season opening concert of the Jerusalem Music Academy’s Mendi Rodan Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Eitan Globerson.

The work’s title is misleading. A cantata, by definition, is a vocal work. This one, however, is purely instrumental. It is rather a set of symphonic variations or paraphrases on a cantata theme by Bach.

Bach himself composed variations on this theme in each movement of his Cantata No. 4. Keren attempts to render the theme attractive to contemporary listeners by manipulating it in a modernist, mostly dissonant style, to a point where it becomes unidentifiable until its first notes reappear at the end in a consoling flute solo. Whether Bach, if alive today, would have approved of these liberties or not remains an open question.

The soloist of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 – who also conducted – Alexander Pavlovsky, enchanted with his pure, songful sound, reminding one that Mozart remained a composer of songs and operas even in his instrumental works. In a mercifully unhurried tempo he savored the melodic themes in the fast movements no less than in the slow one.

In the cadenzas he displayed polished virtuosity.

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