Alan Gilbert

אלן גילברט

Date

24.2.2019

Sunday 19:00

Hall

The Lowy concert hall

Venue

Charles R. Bronfman Auditorium, Tel Aviv

Venue

Charles R. Bronfman Auditorium, Tel Aviv

Hall

The Lowy concert hall

Artists

Alan Gilbert, conductor 

Lisa Batiashvili, violinist 

Anastasia Klevan, soprano 

Oded Reich, baritone 

Concert Program

Weber: Oberon Overture
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto no. 2
Nielsen: Symphony no. 3 (“Sinfonia espansiva”)

Event Info

The name Alan Gilbert (born 1967) became recognizable almost overnight after he was appointed Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 2009, an appointment that was not the obvious one. He was the first New York native to be appointed to this position. Born in New York, he lived near Lincoln Center and spent countless hours there—and not only because his two parents were violinists in the orchestra. Gilbert brought a new spirit to the orchestra by programming and commissioning contemporary works, creating new Artist-in-Residence and Composer-in-Residence roles for the orchestra, emphasizing educational and community work, and understanding that this orchestra should renew and influence musical life in New York, the United States, and around the world. When Gilbert finished his term as Music Director in 2017, there was no doubt he had significantly changed the face of the New York Philharmonic.

The program he brings to his concert series with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra demonstrates how Gilbert combines well-known works (such as those by Weber, Rachmaninoff, and Dvořák) with lesser-known works (as in Nielsen's Third Symphony) and new works (such as Exquisite Corpse by Swedish composer Anders Hillborg).

It turns out that 1979 produced an impressive crop of soloists. Lisa (Elisabeth) Batiashvili was born (like Barnatan) in 1979 in Tbilisi, Georgia. At the age of 11 she moved with her family to Germany and continued her studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg. She is considered one of the most fascinating soloists of our time, and was artist-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra between the years 2014-2015 (during Alan Gilbert's time as a musical director). Alongside the classical repertoire, she commissioned and played concert performances by composers such as Magnus Lindberg and Giya Kancheli.

Weber composed the opera “Oberon” in 1826 for London’s Covent Garden Opera House. The plot resembles “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but the work is based on a poem by German poet Christoph Martin Wieland. From the first notes of the overture, Weber beautifully evokes the elves and fairies that abound in the forest. The London audience was thrilled with the work and demanded the orchestra return on stage to play the overture again. Veterans of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra (now the IPO) remember well the blast of Horst Salomon’s horn in the overture.

Perhaps the most interesting story about Prokofiev's Second Concerto for Violin relates to what immediately followed its premiere (in Madrid on December 1, 1935). Prokofiev made the decision to return to the Soviet Union, after a self-imposed exile that began immediately after the First World War. This fact seems to be of musical importance, as one notices in this concerto the relatively simple writing, but with an extremely emotional and expressive attitude. Did Prokofiev consciously or unconsciously end his affair with the European avant-garde? Was there an aesthetic declaration of intent that preceded his concrete decision to return to his homeland? Prokofiev was often perceived as an ironic, biting, and sarcastic composer (for which he was praised by American and European musicians). He succeeded in harnessing the appeal of classic tonalities in service of garnering appeal for his "biting" expressions, and with this concerto, he presents a different aspect of his personality. A closer examination of his biography shows that he had an interest in reaching broad audiences and not limiting himself to the circles of the musical elite, as evidenced by an article he wrote in 1934, "In Praise of Melody." Here, Prokofiev raised the idea that simplicity is an important musical value, but he urged composers to think of simplicity not as a nostalgic matter or an imitation of the past, but to create a "new, fresh simplicity." The second violin concerto seems to be an excellent example of the application if these ideas. This concerto, seemingly less complex than the first concerto, is nonetheless special and original. The expressive opening of the solo instruments, the fresh and captivating melodic line in the second movement, and the "sarcastic" harmonies in the third movement, which gives an impressive role to the percussion instruments, leave no room for doubt as to the originality and uniqueness of the composer.

Nielson’s Third Symphony, written between 1910-11 (in 1911 Sibelius conducted the premiere of his Fourth Symphony in Helsinki, and Roald Amundsen conquered the South Pole). The subtitle, “Sinfonia Espansiva” was given to the work by the composer himself. Why was this name given to the symphony? It does not require large performance forces, it is not very long (the four movements together are around 36 minutes), and except for the use of soprano and baritone vocalizations in the second movement, it is not a work of large proportions. Among Nielsen’s researchers was the composer Robert Simpson, who suggested the accepted view of the work that this is an “expansion of knowledge" in musical thought and insights that transcend the limits of the composer’s thinking and fertilize the whole world (perhaps one needs to be a Dane to be optimistic in this way). And apparently, if one is seeking a bit of an optimistic perspective, an expansion of the 19th century musical language without an obsessive search for innovations, then Nielsen's Third Symphony could be the right work. It is clear and accessible, somewhat reminiscent of Shostakovich's early symphonies, but without the irony or bitterness of the Soviet composer. Biographical anecdotes indicate that this symphony may also symbolize the composer's release from the distress caused by his marriage, but music will recall music and for one reason or another the world has gained a charming and graceful work. Alan Gilbert, Bernstein's successor in many ways, performs this work often around the world. This will be one of the first encounters the Israeli audience has with this piece.

Price Range

180-550 nis

Duration

approx 2 hours including intermission

Duration

approx 2 hours including intermission

Price range

180-550 nis

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