The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Zubin Mehta. Soloist: Mitsuko Uchida. Works by Richard Strauss, Betty Olivero and Mozart. Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv.
The evening began when Zubin Mehta broke from tradition, turned to face the audience, said a few words and invited composer Betty Olivero to speak about her work, "Merkavot."
The hall fell quiet as Olivero's words laid out the story of the work. Suddenly, it became clear that we weren't dealing with some strange piece of faceless "modern music," that there was a flesh-and-blood woman who had written it, that her mind had been filled with thoughts and ideas during the creative process, that the sounds were born out of human sensitivity and thought.
The music began and Olivero's explanations served as a comfortable cushion for the listening experience. The audience fell silent and listened, and even if it did not enjoy the piece, it was intrigued, cocked and attentive.
A marvelous piece, well performed, which added to the experience, but also made you want to shout out to the Philharmonic and its musical director: Where have you been till today? And why hasn't this audience benefited from hundreds of such works and exciting and relevant evenings such as this for the past 60 years?
Climax followed climax, when Mitsuko Uchida took the stage with the Philharmonic for the first time. Uchida, with breathtaking technique, played in a way that will not be forgotten; and the orchestra answered her on the same level.