Gewandhaus takes Christmas to Israel

Gewandhaus takes Christmas to Israel


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2015

The Gewandhaus orchestra and Thomanerchor Leipzig will give four performances in Israel next month of J S Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

Details here.



This ought to annoy all the right people: the BDS, the Israeli Right, the atheists, the anti-semites, the period performance movement, John Eliot Gardiner, Benjamin Netanyahu, the chief rabbis….


  • Margaret Steinitz says:

    All good wishes to them from London Bach Society. These will be very moving performances…just keep safe!

  • Petros LInardos says:

    The leaders of the period performance movement should feel proud about their positive influence on mainstream performers.

  • Will Duffay says:

    Not sure why it would annoy atheists, JEG, or the period performance movement…

    • Philip Amos says:

      My thought exactly. But one must always remember that here the world is filtered through one mind tucked away in London. My guess is that JEG and BN both refused the royal summons at some point.

  • PRC says:


  • Simon S. says:

    “This ought to annoy all the right people: the BDS, the Israeli Right, the atheists, the anti-semites, the period performance movement, John Eliot Gardiner, Benjamin Netanyahu, the chief rabbis…”

    😀 😀 😀


    JFTR: Being agnostic, I’ve never had a problem with relgious music. But ther are certain atheists who do have.

    • Philip Amos says:

      Plus some Christian and Muslim sects.

    • Will Duffay says:

      I don’t think any atheists have problems with religious music. Religions, yes, and their presumption and their arrogance, but not the trappings of religions, which are often aesthetically pleasing.

  • Tim says:

    Christians (still) make up the majority in this world. It’s not going anywhere, so get used to it Norman.

  • sixtus says:

    Gardiner has no right to be annoyed. His Bach recordings, most inauthentically, don’t employ a boy choir.

    • Philip Amos says:

      Who said he is?? Only Norman Lebrecht. The same applies to BN, who has very good reason not to be annoyed, but NL would have to have a much mightier grasp of diplomacy and international affairs, not to mention the Middle East specifically, to understand that.

  • Jeffrey E. Salzberg says:

    It’ll also annoy well-meaning, but politically correct, people who parrot what “everybody knows” without bothering to read the facts.

  • Baron TZ says:

    Yes, it is very “Christian” of them, when they could be doing Judas Maccabeus by Handel instead.
    As to the influence of period playing, I guess that would explain the horrendous bow-scraping unmusical playing I am hearing in other performances. Period Instruments is the worst thing that ever happened to music.
    Oh, for I Musici and the Academy of St. Martins-in-the-Fields, the best ever.

    • Stereo says:

      Well said Baron TZ
      You can keep the Stone Age brigade as we say in the profession. Some are even inflicting no vibrato on Brahms!

    • Mark says:

      Yes, Baron TZ, exactly. I recall when Harry Bicket conducted at the Met, the string section hated his guts for demanding that they play without vibrato. He managed to make the Met orchestra sound absolutely horrible !

    • Will Duffay says:

      The worst thing that ever happened to music?! Crumbs – that’s rather strong. I disagree completely, and given that period performance practises are now part of the mainstream it would seem that the majority of musicians also agree. And thank goodness music was shaken up in the 60s and 70s. I expect the Leipzig band will play with some vibrato, but with the lightness and freshness which the period movement brought back. Nobody surely would want to go back to the stodgy lush ghastliness of the previous generation.

    • William Safford says:

      Period music playing is such a breath of fresh air! I hate performances and recordings of Baroque music performed as if it were Tchaikovsky or Mahler. What glop! Ugh! As with anything, there are good and not-so-good performances, but the crystal clarity brought with vibratoless strings, using vibrato only as an embellishment in line with practices of the day, helps the musical structure shine through.

  • PaulD says:

    I doubt if Netanyahu will be annoyed. He’d probably welcome visitors from Europe. But, there probably are parts of London that would be annoyed by the visit.

  • Emil says:

    In other news, Norman Lebrecht will be annoyed if no one is annoyed about musicians going on tour.

    • Philip Amos says:

      Exactly. NL likes playing with matches, especially in the Middle East — as long as his arse is safe and sound in London, and he doesn’t do his shopping along the Commercial Road.

  • Eyal Braun says:

    Bach great religious music is regularly performed in Israel, both by Israeli and guest performers. I don’t remember any public debates about it, and there is no such debate this time as well.