Time to Celebrate Zubin Mehta with violinist Gil Shaham

זובין מהטה

Date

16.10.2019

Wednesday 19:00

Hall

The Lowy concert hall

Venue

Charles Bronfman Auditorium, Tel Aviv

Venue

Charles Bronfman Auditorium, Tel Aviv

Hall

The Lowy concert hall

Artists

Zubin Mehta, conductor 

Gil Shaham, violinist 

Concert Program

Brahms: Violin Concerto
Brahms: Symphony no. 2

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 hear Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 and Violin Concerto, played by Gil Shaham.

Musicians and music lovers love to identify with the suffering of great artists. Those in the news,  those who are mentally unstable, those in poverty, and those in desperate pursuit of love. Johannes Brahms was severely tormented until he managed to break through the barrier that prevented him from writing a symphony. Maybe it was Beethoven's shadow that caused a longer maturation period than was expected of this prolific composer, or perhaps it was Brahms' infamous self-criticism. Brahms may have felt he had to find his own way of perceiving the symphonic medium and solve questions about the relationship between sound and structure (that is, what kind of music is needed for a large-scale work and how it should fit into the symphonic form). Maybe these were hidden reasons in the inner dialogue between the creator and himself. But when Brahms was finally able to finish his first symphony, at the age of 43, the dam seemed to break. The Second Symphony was completed in four months and, like its predecessor, was a huge success. Brahms possessed a special sense of humor: when he sent the second symphony’s score to his publisher, he said: I don't think you will be able to stand the melancholy and sadness that this symphony brings. Of course it was a joke--the Second Symphony is actually quite bright and optimistic. It is always interesting to see how scholars try to explain the reason for a particular "character" in a particular piece. Here, some note that Brahms felt that the immense burden to write a “serious symphony” was lifted after the great success of the first symphony. Others note that the symphony was written during a luxurious vacation in the Alps, and others still attribute the work to the fact that Brahms first came to financial independence during the year of composition, in 1877. All of these reasons may have been factors that influenced the nature of the work, and it is also possible that a basic composer's urge to diversify the music he created was a significant factor in this process. And perhaps the sense of finding his way in the symphonic medium allowed Brahms to explore other expressive possibilities and expand his aesthetic concept.

This symphony has great melodies; it is a playful, relatively bright work in texture and orchestration, and its last movement (surprise, surprise) has so captivated the audience that when the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Hans Richter, played the premiere (on December 30, 1877), they immediately performed the work again as an encore.

The combination of the Violin Concerto and the Second Symphony seems natural. The two pieces were written almost sequentially (Brahms began to compose the concerto as soon as the symphony was completed); they share a common scale (D Major); and both have great melodic qualities. Listening to these two works in succession also gives a sense of ​​Brahms's orchestral concept (the strings and horns in the symphony, the oboe in the concerto, the low accompaniment found both works) and his particular concept of time and form. It is also important to note, in the context of playing the symphony and concerto in succession, that part of Brahms's great challenge was to cast his musical ideas into traditional patterns: the double exposition in the first movement and the romance of the second movement, which resembles many works in the concerto genre. The dominance of a genius performer in the process of writing is a known fact. In this case, it was virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, who was also, miraculously, a close friend of Brahms. Brahms was not exactly a pleasant man. His sarcasm and criticism did not make the lives of his friends and acquaintances easy. But it was Joachim who characterized Brahms precisely with the words: "pure as diamond and soft as snow." Their friendship was formed almost "at first sight," when they met in 1853. When Brahms turned to writing the violin concerto, it was Joachim who was his dialogue partner during the composition process, contributing to making the violin part one of the most challenging and satisfying in the solo literature. Even after the debut of the concerto (on the first day of 1879 with Brahms conducting the Leipzig Orchestra), the work of finishing the piece continued. Changes were made in several places, and the version we hear today also includes a cadenza composed for the concerto by Joachim. Interestingly, the concerto's performance evoked mixed reactions: Hans von Bülow called the piece an anti-violinist concerto, and Bronislaw Huberman noted that this concerto marks a struggle between the violin and orchestra, with the violin winning at the end. A particularly nasty comment was made by Sarasate, who said he would not stand on stage to perform this work, as the only melody in the piece is played by the oboe. But it was not long before the audience, along with violinists and conductors, embraced the work.

Price Range

Duration

approx 90 minutes including intermission

Duration

approx 90 minutes including intermission

Price range

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