Time to Celebrate: Maestro Zubin Mehta and Yefim Bronfman – Special Concert

יפים ברונפמן

Date

20.10.2019

Sunday 14:00

Hall

Lowy Concert Hall

Venue

Charles Bronfman Auditorium, Tel Aviv

Venue

Charles Bronfman Auditorium, Tel Aviv

Hall

Lowy Concert Hall

Artists

Zubin Mehta, conductor 

Yefim Bronfman, pianist 

Chen Reiss, soprano 

Okka von der Damerau, mezzo-soprano 

The Gary Bertini Israeli Choir, directed by Ronen Borshevsky 

The Jerusalem Academy Chamber Choir, directed by Stanley Sperber 

Concert Program

Liszt: piano concerto no.2
Mahler: Symphony no. 2 (“Resurrection”)

Event Info

The 2019-20 season’s opening concerts are Maestro Zubin Mehta’s last before his retirement. As a personal tribute to him, a host of stars and close friends of the Maestro and Orchestra are set to perform. In this concert, as part of the closing festivities of the Jubilee celebrations, we will host Yefim Bronfman, Chen Reiss and Okka von der Damerau.

 

Mahler had a more or less consistent compositional routine. He dedicated the summer months to composing music and the rest of the year to conducting and music directorship. His life and habits are well documented: even his daily schedule is known: composing in the morning, immediately followed by swimming, running or hiking in the spectacular views of the Austrian Alps. “Don’t bother taking in the scenery, I have already composed it”, said Mahler to a friend who came to visit. One should take note of this statement and not dismiss it as trivial arrogance. Mahler related to symphonic writing as a pervasive, rich and varied “universe”: “I will use any means I know to create this symphonic universe”, he said. Indeed, the Second Symphony is, from many aspects, an entire music world filled with everything good – instrumental and vocal music, solo and choral singing and wonderful musical and verbal metaphors. The work took Mahler six years to compose (between 1888 and 1894), but he continued to rewrite and edit the score until he arrived at its final version in 1909. The composer himself conducted the premieres of the work and, interestingly, before it became popular among audiences and performers, this was also Mahler’s first symphony to have been recorded (in 1923, conducted by Oskar Fried).

This work always aroused curiosity. Its length, the scope of emotion expressed in the music and the performing forces it requires often raised questions, such as “Does it have a non-musical story that the composer wishes to tell?” “Are we witnessing here the beginning of cinematic music that breaks (literally and figuratively) the boundaries posed by the concert stage we know?” “Was Mahler a megalomaniac or an innovator?”

Performing Mahler’s Second Symphony in a concert together with themes from John Williams’ “Schindler’s List” can definitely cause thought or discussion about “larger-than-life music” in various genres (in this context, one should note that Mahler’s music can be heard in the soundtracks of over 100 films, including Luchino Visconti’s “Death in Venice” and Terrence Malik’s “The Tree of Life”). Either way, Mahler himself refused to commit to an extra-musical explanation of the work, and vehemently claimed that the music should speak for itself. Even today, after the work has gained such immense popularity, there are still those who try to understand the “meaning of this music”. Some consider it a journey of revelation from death (the first movement can definitely be perceived as a long and winding march) to transfiguration and purity and to the idea of acceptance of life and not fearing death, as stated in the text of the final movement:

What was created
Must perish,
What perished, rise again!
Cease from trembling,
Prepare yourself to live!

Text: Orly Tal, Prof. Oded Zehavi

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