The Ra’anana Symphonette gave its audiences an opportunity to get away for a few hours with the sounds of Spain. The program and appearance of guest conductor, Gil Shohat, who appears with the RSO once a year, generated a full concert hall on a cold, rainy night.
“Every year, I bring something else, setting a different theme for the evening,” Shohat told The Jerusalem Post before the performance. “My goal is to consistently build for the RSO a diverse and different program, which has a very specific and distinct artistic idea. For this program, I chose music from Spain or a Spanish-speaking country, and the results should be fun and exciting.”
The evening showcased three soloists: Shohat as solo pianist as well as conductor; the prize-winning guitarist, Liat Cohen; and Nahar Eliaz, cellist. As soon as Shochat glided in, raised his hands and opened the performance with the bright brass sounds and syncopated rhythms of Emanuel Chabrier “Espana”, Rhapsody for Orchestra, the tone of happiness, virtuosity and celebration permeated the hall.
Conducting from the piano, Shohat performed “Libertango”, by Astor Piazzola with precision and flair. In the delicate “Asturias” by Manuel Albeniz, he turned the sounds of the giant piano into those of the intimate guitar. Shochat explained to the Post the reason he opted for the Sonata in E major by Dominco Scarlatti as his third selection.
Although Scarlatti’s parents were Italian and he was born in Italy, Scarlatti lived many years in Madrid, where he wrote most of his sonatas. “He is a true representative of the Spanish Baroque,” Shochat affirms. “The Spanish influence can be heard in everything he wrote.”
Award-winning and internationally acclaimed guitarist, Liat Cohen, took the listener deeper into the world of Spanish music. She is internationally acclaimed and was the first guitarist to be awarded the distinguished Nadia and Lily Boulanger Prize by the National French Foundation. Her interpretation of the Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra by Joaquin Rodrigo was technically virtuosic yet delicate and sensual in expression. Her expressive vibrato gave her instrument the staying power to convey Rodrigo’s melodies with fire and passion.
Shohat described his choice of the third soloist of the evening, cellist, Nahar Eliaz, as someone truly special. Only sixteen years of age, he believes she is embarking upon an international career. “She will be the Israel Jacqueline Dupre,” he states. “I believe in many ways she surpasses Dupre in terms of the level of virtuosity at her young age.”
The audience was on its feet with a standing ovation after her performance of the Lalo Concerto for Cello in D minor which she played emotional expression and technical excellence beyond her years.
The concert was over two hours long, and without intermission. Attention was focused on the music and performers because the program was both exciting and uplifting. All as Shochat hoped and planned it would be: a giant celebration of beautiful music.