Signs of change at the Israel Philharmonic

Signs of change at the Israel Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

March 12, 2021

The orchestra is back, and with a very unZubin-like programme. A concertgoer tells


We went to listen to a real concert at the IPO Auditorium. Israel Philharmonic Orchestra two concerts one after the other under Lahav Shani

1st prog

Ives – The Unanswered Question

Bernstein – Halil (Guy Eshed, flute)

Brahms – Symphony no 1.

2nd prog

Sasha Argov – Orchestrated song-cycle (arr. by Menachem Wiesenberg)

Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue (Lahav Shani, piano)

Shostakovich – Symphony No. 9

All works brilliantly performed with a what seems a unique relation between every member of the orchestra and Lahav Shani. IPO members seem to have used this empty hall over 12 months to sharpen and improve their performance both individually and as an ensemble, with precision and beauty from the first note to last.


  • Tone row says:

    Who knew? Overwork of musicians doesn’t lead to better music making. Overwhelming reports and evidence (1st and 2nd hand) from UK are that the sabbatical and breathing space, however traumatic, will lead to an improvement not a decline in standards and quality of performance.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The silver lining of the coronie – using your extraordinary time well.

  • henry williams says:

    a change of conductor can make an improvement.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Just as it was time for Ozawa to leave Boston, it was high time for Mehta to go

  • Wise Guy says:

    Oh no! Change?!?!?!

  • Eyal Braun says:

    The main item in a third program, later this month -will be Kurt weill’s second symphony. another piece never played in Mehta’s era

  • Martinu says:

    Been yesterday (Friday) to the 2nd program – delight, and deeply moving. Being to a “real” concert for the 1st time in many months is simply great. Lavav Shani played the Rhapsody beautifully, with some over the top improvisations. The Sasha Argov medley was touching (us, Israelis feel a huge affinity to the melodies of this greatest of Israeli “light music” composer). The Shostakovich 9 was a little subdued (at least for me), but superb all the same. The orchestra seemed respond to Shani ‘s conducting with great love. Back to life, hopefully for a long period.

    • Ashu says:

      Was there any audible compromise of ensemble due to the spreading out of the orchestra? Vienna isn’t doing that, if I’m not mistaken.

  • Shlomy Braun says:

    The important pieces of music were performed millions of times , probably much better performances.The rest is bad music (Bernstein , Weisenberg et al.).Bernstein’s Halil is played at the beginning because nobody would be staying to hear it if it were played at the end of the concert.
    IPO has a dull though accurate sound.
    Why bother spend 4 hours on the roads and looking for parking places to hear a dull orchestra and and a totally uneventful conductor play Rapsody in Blue ?
    You get a much better sound and performance via modern internet download or online apps.

  • MacroV says:

    Those don’t like especially radical programs. I don’t follow the Israel Philharmonic closely but it often seems that their programming has catered largely to the Central European Jewish bourgeoisie that fled to Israel 75 years ago. I admire Israel (and the Philharmonic) for being a show of defiance to those who sought to destroy them. It would be nice for the Philharmonic to play the music that the Germans tried to destroy, too.

    • Shlomy Braun says: is a central-european-bourgeois sounding orchestra.edifying a hilarious mediocrity in every aspect.