On May 20, the one and only concert of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of prominent Indian conductor Zubin Mehta is to take place at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow.
Maestro Mehta has been at the helm of the Israeli Symphonic Orchestra since 1977. He also performed with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra which were on their tours to Moscow in 1962 and 1988, respectively. In 2011, Mehta conducted the Florence May Festival Orchestra during a concert in Moscow. As for the 1988 performance, it still causes mixed feelings from the maestro.
"I remember that concert very well," Mehta says, referring to Bruckner’s 8th symphony his orchestra was performing. "Earlier that day, I heard the news of the death of eminent Indian actor Raj Kapoor, something that disappointed me so much that during the concert, I asked my Soviet colleague Gennady Rozhdestvensky to break the news to the audience. I asked him to tell the audience that I would like to pay tribute to Raj Kapoor by performing Bruckner’s 8th symphony. That was really a touching moment because Kapoor was very popular in the-then Soviet Union," Mehta concludes.
In 2006, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra took part in the 1st International Festival of Symphony Orchestras from All Across the Globe, an event that was dedicated to the National Day of the Russian Federation. Zubin Mehta’s participation in the festival was perceived by many as a sign of great respect to Russia. Speaking to reporters, Mehta has repeatedly touted his friendly ties with Russian colleagues, jokingly attributing his regular visits to Russia to the country’s unique cuisine.
During his concerts, Mehta performed together with many renowned Russian musicians, including violinist David Oistrakh, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and pianist Emil Gilels. It was Gilels who helped Mehta record Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto which was recognized by critics as one of the world’s best musical pieces and which will be performed during the Moscow concert. The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra will play along with prominent Russian pianist Denis Matsuyev who earlier performed with Zubin Mehta, something that Matsuyev said added greatly to his musical expertise.
"I’m a happy man because the concert is being held in Moscow," Matsuyev says, referring to the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. "We performed with these musicians several times and I was very much excited every time I played with them because for me, Maestro Mehta remains the last of the Mohicans of the great music conducting school. It is very interesting to listen to his stories about many prominent musicians, such as Emil Gilels, and I always draw relevant lessons from them," Matsuyev concludes.
Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Mehta, in turn, said that the May 20 concert will additionally see the performance of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony and Egmont overture.