Music Preview: ISRAEL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA (North American tour with Zubin Mehta)

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by Tony Frankel on October 24, 2017

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-New York,Tours


Beginning tonight in New York, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is beginning its six-city North American tour. This highly anticipated but very short tour—they’re only on the road for two weeks through November 9—includes Toronto, San Francisco, West Palm Beach, Miami, and, happily, a stop in Los Angeles at Disney Hall on Monday October 30 at 8pm. Along with the entire tour, this engagement will be led by Maestro Zubin Mehta, the orchestra’s Music Director for Life; the former LA Phil Music Director has led the IPO for nearly five decades.

The concert programs and soloists are sensational throughout the tour, but L.A. is lucky enough to get Yefim Bronfman, who will be the soloist on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Bronfman and the IPO have a relationship of more than 30 years: He opened their 2016/17 season with Mehta, and participated in the orchestra’s 80th birthday celebrations. Also on the program, the orchestra’s extraordinary musicianship will be experienced with Franz Schubert‘s Symphony No. 9 in C major (The Great).

Presented under LA Phil’s Visiting Orchestras banner, the concert in L.A. begins with Amit Poznansky‘s Footnote Suite, based on the score for the eponymous motion picture. IPO’s assistant principal bassoonist Uzi Shalev told the story of the suite’s origins to American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, an organization formed in 1980 to support the world-class ensemble. Here’s the gist: In 2012, he saw Footnote, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. This dramatic film centers around two Talmudic scholars—a father and son—and the tension, love and anger between them. The film captured Shalev’s heart but the music left him breathless. He mentioned it is rare to find Israeli film soundtracks with music for a symphony orchestra, let alone music that is beautifully written, deep, sad, and sweet, at times dramatic and at times melancholic.

Shalev had been commissioning solo pieces for bassoon from his favorite Israeli composers, so he approached composer Amit Poznansky (b. 1974), who wrote a Trio for Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano, which can be seen here with Shalev, Michal Beit Halachmi and Einat Fabrikant:

Later, Shalev (pictured below) suggested to Amit that he write a symphonic suite from the film music and submit it to the Israeli Music Committee of the IPO. Maestro Mehta and the committee members unanimously chose the piece to be performed at the opening of the current season. Poznansky’s Footnote, Suite for Orchestra had its World Premiere on Oct. 10 and 13, 2017. Maestro Mehta, who has announced his October 2019 retirement from the post of Musical Director of the IPO, also chose Footnote as the Israeli piece for the tour, and it will receive its U.S. Premiere at Disney Hall.

Mr. Poznansky (pictures below) wrote: “Footnote, Suite for Orchestra, comprises several of the main musical themes from the soundtrack for Joseph Cedar’s film. The Suite has a neo-classical character and is built like a waltz, in which it undergoes many transformations throughout. The music reflects the main characters in the film and their contrasting forces: the strictness and seriousness of Eliezer, the father, against the tenderness and forgiveness of Uriel, the son. Yet, each one has a hint of the other. These two forces collide at times, but they create a beautiful harmonic musical reflection of the complexity of the storyline.” (Check out Pozansky’s Show Reel or Amazon to hear samples of the score.)

photo of Zubin Mehta (© Marco Brescia / La Scala) and Bronfman courtesy LA Phil
photo of Uzi Shalev from IPO’s web site
photo of Amit Poznansky from his home site

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Zubin Mehta, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano
program at Disney Hall plays on Monday October 30, 2017 at 8
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit LA Phil
for info about tour dates, cities, and receptions,
visit American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

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