The 2020 season of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) came to life for a brief musical interlude earlier this month, for a string of live, indoor concerts in the orchestra’s regular venues in Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Naturally, the concerts were held in accordance with the strictest “Purple Seal” regulations: patrons were seated in socially distanced “capsules,” and the wearing of masks was enforced.
Accordingly, the concert programs were a bit shorter than usual -- approx. 75 minutes in total -- with no intermissions (to minimize mingling).
Even the musicians were practicing social distancing: the orchestra was a reduced size, more like a chamber orchestra. Moreover, the musicians playing string instruments were by and large wearing masks.
The first concert in the mini-series was an all-Beethoven affair: Leonore Overture no. 3, and Piano Concerto no. 5 (“Emperor”). The pianist was Ishay Shaer, while Ariel Zuckermann was the conductor.
I attended the second concert, which was under the baton of Guy Braunstein, who was also the soloist performing Beethoven’s (sole) Violin Concerto.
He played brilliantly, an accomplishment that was recognized also by his fellow musicians: rarely have I seen such enthusiastic “applause” -- bows striking music stands, even some foot stomping and clapping of palms on thighs -- on the part of members of the orchestra.
The concert concluded with Symphony no. 33, K. 319, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a work with which I was heretofore unfamiliar. It was pleasant enough, although I found it unremarkable.
As we all know, the worsening COVID situation has imposed a second lockdown on Israel, forcing another interruption in live concerts.
The IPO has therefore moved once again to virtual concerts, beginning with a Festive Digital Series over the Tishrei holidays.
The next one on the calendar is scheduled for Sunday, October 4 at 9pm, when the orchestra will play Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. At the podium will be IPO musical director Lahav Shani.
These prerecorded concerts are not listed on the IPO website’s regular events calendar, but they may be viewed here.
The same link will also give you the upcoming online schedule, as well as a whole slew of previous broadcasts, in case you missed one that you wish to enjoy (or desire to hear it again).
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Heikhal HaTarbut, HaBima Square, Tel Aviv
Tel. (in Israel): *3766