A first from Israel

SKILLED PRESENTATION Israeli music, performed by the Israel Chamber Orchestra, is a blend of religious music inspired by the Bible and folk music inspired by Polish and Russian cultures

SKILLED PRESENTATION Israeli music, performed by the Israel Chamber Orchestra, is a blend of religious music inspired by the Bible and folk music inspired by Polish and Russian cultures   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: V. SREENIVASA MURTHY

The Israel Chamber Orchestra, led by the talented Gil Shohat, performed to a packed house in the city

Israeli music, which earlier mixed with other Jewish music, took on a distinctive characteristic of its own after the state of Israel was established in 1948. Since then it has been progressing towards cutting out a separate identity for itself in all genres of music. The earlier forms of Jewish classical music were influenced by the works of European composers. If one sees the history of music coming from Israel, one can easily trace two main influences on the country's music. On one side was the religious music inspired by the Bible and on the other was folk music inspired by the various popular cultures of Polish and Russian cultures. Performing to a packed house, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, under the able guidance conductor, composer and pianist Gil Shohat, showed the music lovers of Bangalore a taste of contemporary Israeli western classical music. The Israel Chamber Orchestra is considered one of the most prestigious and the works of its young director have been performed by all the big orchestras in the world. The 34-year-old Gil Shohat has nine symphonies, eight concerts, two operas and many more musical theatricals to his credit.

Piano solo

The five-member orchestra started the evening with a piano solo performed by Shohat himself. He played "Suite Bergamasque", a new baroque-style piece composed by the 19th Century French composer Claude Debussy. Baroque evolved itself by extending its preludes and shortening its synchronic lengths towards the end of a piece. It became a popular ritual by the early 20th Century to start classical music concerts with pieces in this style.This was followed by an extremely soothing "Trio" of piano, violin and cello. On the violin was the much celebrated Hala Livni who showed her mastery in the various swift alto sequences. Incidentally, the "Trio" was performed for the first time here as the orchestra was unable to perform it in its last two concerts due to excessive demands from audiences who wanted to listen to Bollywood tunes. "Trio" is inspired by a combination of Indian vedic chants and the writings of the Torah. This particular piece indeed had the healing effect because of the slow violin and the cello that have the power to calm an agitated mind. The series of seven romantic preludes composed by the Russian composer Rachmaninoff are a delight to any pianist. Every famous pianist in the world so far has played at least some of these in their best concerts.

Difficult work

Starting with the famous "Bells of Moscow," Shohat once again had the audiences tapping their fingers to the piano tracks, playing the famous "Piano Quintet" by Brahms. This piece of music, a romantic tragedy, is one of the most difficult works for a chamber orchestra. Brahms composed this work of music, considered one of the greatest works of the time, in the latter part of the 19th century. This period was measured as an important juncture between the end of many renaissance music movements and the genesis of modern popular music. So the music played in this particular quintet reflects on both the extremes with a powerful and cathartic effect depicting the achievements of the western civilisation. The orchestra was brought to the city by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in association with the Bangalore School of Music.Cheering the enthusiastic houseful of music lovers, the director performed an encore with a short aria composed by Puccini in the honour of Aruna Sunderlal who runs the Bangalore School of Music. VIJAY SAI

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