Classical Review: Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Jerusalem ICC, July 17.

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 521 (photo credit: Yeugene/WikiCommons)
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 521
(photo credit: Yeugene/WikiCommons)
Anyone who knew Schoenberg merely as a modernist, atonal composer, must have been struck by his Gurre-Lieder, performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, as utterly un- Schoenbergian.
The work was written before the composer embarked on his later modernist, dodecaphonic style. Despite discernible Wagnerian and Mahlerian post-Romantic influences, Gurre-Lieder is thoroughly individual and personal in style and conception.
Never before has such a monumental work of a large symphony orchestra, triple chorus, soloists and, above all, profound emotional tempestuousness and intensity been attempted.
The very beginning opened with, for Schoenberg, a surprise – delicate, subtle, altogether atypical. In the first part’s love duet, Daniel Kirch’s warm, rich lyric tenor, as Waldemar, conveyed his strong feelings with the utmost emotional intensity, wisely abstaining from sentimentality or theatrics, especially in his moving outcry “Wondrous Tove!” Daniela Denschlag’s velvety contralto, in the role of the Wood Dove, in the second part, movingly expressed the heartrending lament over Tove’s death. Jennifer Wilson’s bright and smooth soprano represented a convincingly loving Tove.
Conductor Zubin Mehta admirably led the enormous ensemble of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonic Choir and the Gary Bertini Choir, sensitively creating the subtlest nuances of dynamics as well as the tremendous turbulence of the “Wild Hunt.”
Overall, this performance was an extraordinary artistic achievement.