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Zubin Mehta: Live In Front Of The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Beethoven / Konovalov / Israel Philharmonic Orch
Release Date: 11/12/2013 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 6227   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  UnspecifiedLudwig van BeethovenWolfgang Amadeus MozartNikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,   ... 
Performer:  Ilya KonovalovRoman Spitzer
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 47 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ZUBIN MEHTA LIVE IN FRONT OF THE GRAND PALACE Zubin Mehta, cond; Ilya Konovalov (vn); Roman Spitzer (va); Israel PO NIMBUS 6227 (2 CDs: 107:20) Live: Bangkok


BRAHMS Symphony No. 1. BEETHOVEN Leonora Overture No. 3. MOZART Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Capriccio espagnol. J. STRAUSS II Thunder and Lightning Polka. J. STRAUSS I Radetzky March. ANON. Royal Thai Anthem


These are good years for Zubin Mehta. Long past are the days when he was the beleaguered and underappreciated conductor of the New York Philharmonic, where one of his players described him as a first-rate conductor and a second-rate musician. When critics suggested that record companies weren’t interested in Mehta, he asked whether he should send his royalty statements to The New York Times . Given all the fuss over Gustavo Dudamel, it is well to remember that Mehta at age 26 was music director of both the Montreal Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Now that he has matured into one of the grand old men of the baton, orchestral players seem to value him wherever he goes, even New York. The present program with the Israel Philharmonic was the first outdoor Western orchestral concert ever in Bangkok. Mehta and the IPO gave the Thais an evening to remember. The orchestral playing on this album always is beautiful and often is scintillating. Mehta first conducted the IPO in 1961; the intimate and expressive quality of the playing here only could have been achieved by a conductor through a long association with his orchestra. The trademark Central European tone of the IPO always is in evidence. Christa Ludwig said that the only other places where she heard the sound Karajan got out of the Vienna Philharmonic were in Philadelphia and Tel Aviv. Here, the IPO plays its heart out in music that has long been central to Mehta’s repertory.


Mehta is an underrated Beethoven conductor. Of his records, his New York “Eroica” deserves great esteem. In the present Leonora Overture No. 3, the introduction starkly conveys the shadowy world of Florestan’s imprisonment. The coloration Mehta finds in the harmonies is very telling. The Overture’s main theme feels exciting but never rushed; Mehta always lets the music breathe. He emphasizes the lyrical, singing quality of the melodies. The Overture’s conclusion possesses unusual nobility. Mehta has been making excellent Mozart recordings since the 1970s, most notably a distinguished Figaro . He and the IPO recorded a fine Sinfonia Concertante with Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zuckerman 30 years ago, but that version can seem a little stiff in comparison with this new account. Violinist Ilya Konovalov, one of the IPO’s concertmasters, is a bright-toned, flexible player. Violist Roman Spitzer, whom I assume is the orchestra’s principal, makes a rich, woodsy sound. Their dialogue is mature and sensitive without being the least bit self-conscious—real chamber music playing. Mehta always gives his soloists plenty of room to express themselves, while the orchestra’s ensemble is exquisite, with full, rounded phrasing. The first movement’s cadenza seems like Bach in the nobility of its counterpoint. In the slow movement, the soloists prove emotional without dawdling. The cadenza evokes a vocal duet, with each player coloring his part beautifully. In the last movement, the soloists’ exchanges are exciting without ever sacrificing their distinctive sounds.


Mehta always has done Rimsky-Korsakov well. His 1974 Scheherazade in L.A. is exceptional both as an interpretation and as recorded sound, at least on LP. Here, the opening Alborada of the Capriccio espagnol is rhythmically exact and vibrant. The Gypsy Melody shows off Mehta’s feeling for exotic coloring. The conclusion of the Fandango reminds me of Beverly Sills’s comment that you’ve never sung with an exciting conductor until you’ve sung with Zubin Mehta. He and the IPO recorded a fine cycle of the Brahms symphonies for Sony. In the opening movement of the present First, the tragic element stands foremost, with fate’s heavy tread expressed in the metrical pattern. Mehta brings out the insistently pounding rhythm taken from the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth. The slow movement is elegiac, with striking string playing. The third movement evinces a tender melancholy, with a passionate outburst of complaint in the middle section. In the last movement, Mehta elicits the most glorious playing from his orchestra, evoking the nobility of the questing soul. The Brahms is perhaps the least distinctive performance in this concert, but one I would be very satisfied to hear live in person. The encores are dispatched with style and panache. The audience claps along with the Radetzky March , which sounds a little odd because applause is not retained after any of the works in the concert. The back label incorrectly attributes the march to Johann Strauss the son, instead of the father.


The sound engineering is very good for an outdoor venue. The orchestral strings seem a little wiry as reproduced, but the overall balance is good and you never are in doubt as to the beauty of the playing. There is some feedback from the lower strings in the Mozart, which along with the Beethoven occasionally is afflicted by what sounds like whispering. I don’t think these aberrant qualities in the engineering should deter anyone from enjoying the concert. While all the performances are superb, I do prefer for the Mozart Arthur Grumiaux and Arrigo Pelliccia with Colin Davis, and for the Brahms Davis again, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony. There is a thrill in hearing Mehta’s concert as it was given, apparently without editing. I wish more of our musicians would record in this manner. Inspiration on the spur of the moment is a rare commodity on CD, but this concert has it.


FANFARE: Dave Saemann
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Works on This Recording

1.
Thailand Royal Anthem ("Sansoen Phra Barami") by Unspecified
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Live  in Front of the Grand Palace, Bangkok 
Length: 1 Minutes 15 Secs. 
2.
Leonore Overture no 2 in C major, Op. 72 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Classical 
Written: 1805; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Live  in Front of the Grand Palace, Bangkok 
Length: 13 Minutes 46 Secs. 
3.
Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola in E flat major, K 364 (320d) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Ilya Konovalov (Violin), Roman Spitzer (Viola)
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Classical 
Written: 1779; Salzburg, Austria 
Venue:  Live  in Front of the Grand Palace, Bangkok 
Length: 28 Minutes 39 Secs. 
4.
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Russia 
Venue:  Live  in Front of the Grand Palace, Bangkok 
Length: 14 Minutes 14 Secs. 
5.
Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855-1876; Austria 
Venue:  Live  in Front of the Grand Palace, Bangkok 
Length: 42 Minutes 27 Secs. 
6.
Unter Donner und Blitz, Op. 324 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Live  in Front of the Grand Palace, Bangkok 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
7.
Radetzky March, Op. 228 by Johann Strauss Sr.
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Live  in Front of the Grand Palace, Bangkok 
Length: 2 Minutes 25 Secs. 

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