Ranking as one of the most popular and most influential orchestra band, here is the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) that graced the stage of Symphony Hall Wednesday March 19 at 8 p.m. It was being led by its longtime Music Director for life, Zubin Mehta. Their performance was part of the Celebrity Series of Boston’s 75th anniversary Season.
While performing Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C. Minor, they made a thrilling 80-minute performance that showcased the orchestra’s intrinsic music talent.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra emerged in 1936 with its founder being Bronislaw Huberman, a Polish-Jewish violinist, at an inaugural concert conducted on December 26, 1936 led by Arturo Toscanini.
During the performance, the Australian organist-turned-composer could be heard pulling the knobs in his organ loft as part of the orchestra kicked in while lifting the music in long crescendos. The whole region of the instrument flared to life at once at times when the organist would hit a piston.
In the first movement, the tapering of entrances was minimized as the wind instruments clicked in and off like organ pipes. As Mehta and his players mainly focused on elucidating Bruckner’s imposing rhetoric, Mezzo Forte remained the default, while Allergo put more emphasis on moderato, which was the prevailing tempo.
The orchestra’s strings had sharp-edged tones that rose to a screech in fortissimo, exceeding Wagner tubas, whose attack intonations would sometimes falter in the early going. Most notably was Mehta’s moves which were quite clinical to attain the effects of steadiness and lucidity that he appeared to have been after.
In spite of themselves, the galumphing three-to-a-bar of the Scherzo got the players up and dancing, as well as shaping phrases. Mehta opted for a more austere through a plodding approach whenever a chance would emerge to create a tender, graceful contrast in the trio.
Mehta could expertly manage the symphony’s vast slow movements during its several long crescendos to wonderful climaxes.
Their engine seemingly appeared to have been more tuned up than the outset as the orchestra could reach for more expressivity during their symphony’s discursive Finale which began with an effective opening for stentorian brass and snapped rhythmic strings.