Time to celebrate Mehta

Sating farewell to the master conductor.

Zubin Mehta (photo credit: MARCUS YAM/ LOS ANGELES TIMES/ TNS)
Zubin Mehta
October 7
Charles Bronfman Auditorium
Tel Aviv

The third in a series of seven different concert programs celebrating Zubin Mehta and 50 years of making music together was sold out. The door to the stage opened, and as Mehta took his first step, the audience rose as one. Clearly, feelings of appreciation and honor were the moods of the evening.
Mehta now uses a walking stick and his pace is slower. However, he mounted the podium with ease, raised hands, and “business” was normal. First was “Hatikvah” – the audience was already standing – and the audience remembered Mehta as a young man from India, who came to Israel more than 50 years ago as a replacement for Eugene Ormandy, and has remained a consistent and loyal friend to the orchestra and state ever since.
Mozart’s Symphony No.41 in C Major, also known as “The Jupiter,” followed. From the first movement, Allegro Vivace until the final chord of the Molto Allegro, the communication between conductor and orchestra was palpable. Mehta is not a conductor of wide gestures. With a glance and concise hand motions, he maintained a clear path of communication, drawing from the orchestra a second movement that was an interplay of ethereal sounds and a base to build the excitement and precision needed for the following movements.
After intermission, Mehta entered with pianist Denis Matsuev, the soloist of the evening. Again, the feeling of friendship between soloist, conductor, and orchestra was existed. Matsuev, one of the most prominent pianists of the international concert stage, was the choice of the Rachmaninoff Foundation to record unknown pieces of Rachmaninoff on the composer’s own piano. His choice of solo for this concert was Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No.3 in D Minor and he did a grand job. Especially beautiful was the Intermezzo: Adagio movement between piano and orchestra, as Matsuev finely defined the phrases and segued into the Finale: Alle breve with its exciting sweeps of sound.
The audience called Matsuev back for three encores (Mehta wisely remained on the podium). The first explored the high reaches of the piano; the second, the lower registers; and the third, a delightful variation on “Happy Birthday.”
This listener must respectfully comment on one point of this enjoyable evening – it could have been longer.