Zubin Mehta, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
11 November 2014
The MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor for Four Violins
Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 (Linz)
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5
A Review by Hawk Liu
This was my first live encounter with Zubin Mehta, after years of listening to his wonderful interpretations of so many works on record, my favourite being the Turandot with Sutherland, Pavarotti, Caballe and Ghiaurov. I came to the concert with anticipation and I wasn’t disappointed with his leadership of the orchestra. The man himself was looking physically tired. He looked as if he could only stroll onto the stage and he even tripped on the podium in the second half. It was surreal. Everyone was amused. But once the man started conducting the energetic passages, he was like a man less than half his age!
And it was a fine orchestra indeed. Articulation was fast and deadly accurate especially in the third movement of Tchaikovsky. Masterly solos were heard in both the Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi. The Tchaikovsky provided a very good showcase of the orchestra’s abilities – great lyric skills, good solo players (difficult, exposed horn solo well sustained), virtuosity, and the ever present performance energy that was never diminished whether it be a quiet movement or otherwise. The Mozart was the one that I didn’t know, and it was interesting to find it being quite similar in structure and character to his Symphony no. 40, though I thought the latter is definitely a superior work by far. The work presented tonight was taken very well, not a wrong footing. The Vivaldi was exciting with 4 soloists showing their chops. There was a very interesting scalic embellishment used consistently throughout that I had not heard before too. After the standing ovation at the end, we were rewarded with the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana. It was a wonderful treat to hear the orchestra’s ability to ‘sing’ the melody so well with all the natural rises and falls in the phrasing. I felt blessed.
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