CULTURE

Zubin Mehta to present Mahler

One of the world’s leading orchestras conducted by a celebrated maestro, interpreting a landmark piece of classical music: That’s the formula coming this Sunday for a single performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta, which will interpret Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 in B Minor at the Herod Atticus Theater. Part of this year’s Athens Festival events, the concert was organized in cooperation with the Gina Bachauer Association. A particularly demanding score, the work was written for a great symphonic orchestra. With a stylistic variety and imaginative sound effects that seem almost post-modern, for the conductor the work reveals great margins for interpretation, both musically and dramatically. For Schoenberg, Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 represents the moment of Romanticism’s final destruction: A fall which took along with it all traditional symphonic forms and every single notion of tonality. Given its overall conceptual vagueness, the oeuvre is the least known of Mahler’s nine symphonies. The work’s foggy mood in the first part, the «Nachtmusik,» is full of sounds from nature and evokes emotional nostalgia, while the celebrated Scherzo movement is filled with elements of the grotesque. As for the finale, it is best described as an orchestral pandemonium. «And now, the light of day,» is what the composer himself had said for the symphony’s final part. Given the absence of a central idea, music aficionados are encouraged to draw their own conclusion, depending on their own emotional maturity, spiritual sensitivity and their overall scope of knowledge. Originally an eastern European musical body which later developed into an Israeli orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is a symphony orchestra featuring 110 musicians. It records regularly for big recording companies – the most recent ones (all of which were conducted by Zubin Mehta) including symphonies by Brahms, Smetana’s «Ma Vlast,» Prokofiev’s piano concertos, and Mahler’s symphonies. Mehta, one the world’s greatest interpreters of grand symphonic literature, needs no special introduction. He is known for his broad repertoire ranging from Bach to music of the 20th century. Born in Bombay, the conductor studied in Vienna and began his career in London. He made his first appearance with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he is a lifetime conductor, in 1961. Despite collaborations with other world orchestras, including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic, he has remained loyal to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, while in 1998 he was appointed general music director of the Bavarian State Opera. Herod Atticus Theater, Dionysiou Areopagitou, Acropolis, tel 210.323.2771. Tickets are also available at the Hellenic Festival box office, 39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.322.1459.