Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Grand Palace Hall, Ion Câmpineanu 28, Bucharest, Romania

In the first of two concerts at the Enescu Festival, the Israel Philharmonic and music director Lahav Shani (he succeeded Zubin Mehta and has retained his predecessor’s preference for antiphonal violins with basses positioned to the left) opened with the Overture No.2 by Louise Farrenc, her music much admired by Berlioz, this example imposing and lively, Schumann meets Rossini , a symphonic first movement mostly energetic in which the IPO sparkled infectiously. Next Haydn’s ‘London’ Symphony (No.104), the only one of the twelve such works (93-104) to be given this soubriquet. Shani’s approach might be heard as a riposte to ‘period’ performance – warm but not obfuscated textures, moderate tempos, and a wholeness of approach that spoke of today rather than resurrecting yesteryear – I was reminded of Hans Rosbaud’s Berlin recording in which a sense of valediction was present in the Finale, as it was with Shani, a summing-up and a farewell to the Symphony, if not other genres.

Brahms’s Violin Concerto found Gil Shaham in vivid form, accompanied tactilely – Shani baton-less (despite the above photograph) and score-less throughout the concert – for a feisty and lyrically shapely opening movement (Shaham keeping faith with the standard Joachim cadenza), a tender slow movement, beginning with an expressive oboe solo, and a Finale that was unrushed yet paprika-infused. For an encore, with orchestra, Shaham played either Fritz Kreisler’s Liebesleid or Liebesfreud, certainly one of those. Stylish. Smiles all round.