Review: The Israel Philharmonic was led by the same conductor for 40-plus years. His successor shines in L.A. debut, a highly sophisticated account of Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ and a deeply emotional performance of ‘Symphony No. 9’ by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Mozart’s great final symphony, conducted by Herbert von Karajan in 1957, is arguably the piece that defined a generation. The composer had worked hard on the work for the previous four years, and there is no mistaking his passion here. The orchestra gives the work a majestic, even epic, sense of drama, with a great many of the notes rising to a crescendo that seems to threaten to break the tension. Yet, with few exceptions, the violinists give that tension a chance to be fully expressed, and Karajan takes full advantage of their ability to be both precise and expressive. The result is a tremendous, emotional ride from beginning to end – more grandiose than the symphony itself – a glorious and emotional ride that is very hard to capture through any other medium; even harder to do so in a concert hall environment because of the sheer magnitude of the work.
Mozart’s “Requiem” for the Israel Philharmonic was conducted by its new music director, Valery Gergiev, and it is in many ways a return to form for Gergiev. The work was written in 1987, when Gergiev was only 13. It is a massive work in several ways, with an orchestral structure that contains both choral and orchestral parts, and with a huge amount of detail that seems to grow as the work progresses. The soloists bring the work to life in a very convincing manner, and their contributions are varied and strong.
The Philadelphia Orchestra is conducted by Kurt Masur, a conductor who has long since established himself as a modern-era interpreter of Mozart. There is at least one reason why I love Masur. That reason is that he brings a sense of nuance and style to his orchestral