Byron as Music
January 13With Byron as a common denominator, Berlioz's Harold in Italy was one of the works presented by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, less than one week after the same work had been performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Jerusalem. This was a masterpiece of orchestral mutual inattentiveness, presumably under the motto "Anything you can do I can do better."Violist Richard Assayas displayed a warm, songful sound and an appealingly mature personal note. Occasionally he seemed to regard his solo role as primus inter pares, but on the whole held his own courageously against the often menacing orchestral volume. Tchaikovsky's Manfred was unmistakably Tchaikovsky. Whether Byron, too, could be identified in the music or not, it was at all events a welcome opportunity to hear this seldom performed work. Its colorful orchestration and abundant instrumental solo passages were highlighted impressively, and its emotional high-voltage drama was conveyed convincingly.