The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Andres Mustonen.
(photo credit: SASSON TIRAM)
It was a mixed bag that the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra presented in the Season Opening concert of its Popular Series, conducted by Hen Zimbalista.
Bach and Beethoven were sandwiched with Georgia-born Israeli composer Josef Bardanashvili and Georgian folk songs. The well-meant purpose of this musical cocktail was presumably to attract classical music fans to folk music, and vice versa. The audience, however, made it unmistakably clear where its sympathies lie. It listened patiently and well-behaved to Bach and Beethoven, responding with polite applause. Stormy and enthusiastic applause, on the other hand, rewarded the folk songs and Zimbalista’s marimba solo in Bardanashvili’s Musical Moments, which actually is a concerto for marimba and orchestra.
As soloist, Zimbalista brilliantly lived up to his reputation as an outstanding percussionist. In his solo pieces he emerged as a veritable wizard of percussion, producing electrifying rhythms and formidable virtuosity.
Like some other prominent instrumentalists, Zimbalista too is obsessed by the ambition of becoming a conductor. The result was a fairly accurate rendition of Beethoven’s Prometheus overture. He let himself be carried away by the orchestra, not yet having learned to restrain its volume in order to let the singer’s voice be heard.
Singer Nadia Kucher performed some Georgian folk songs with warm emotion, noticeable nostalgia and an appealing soft, expressive voice.
Bach was modestly represented by cellist Oleg Stolpner playing his harpsichord Prelude No. 1 in an arranged version, without mentioning the arranger’s name in the program notes.
Conspicuous by its absence was the beer promised in the program notes.