Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Israel Philharmonic Prom

Earlier, I wrote: "Anyway, aware that merely listening to tonight's concert is not going to have any physical effect on the Netanyahu regime, I intend to enjoy a quintessential Prom mix comprising the avant-garde, the popular and the unfamiliar, played by an excellent orchestra."

In the event, Radio 3 did not see fit to let us hear most of the concert because of some audible demonstrations in the Albert Hall audience. Nor did we have any explanation at the time. One could have guessed, but I needed to piece together the story from news items and from postings on Cix. It now seems that BBC is going to grant us edited highlights on TV.

I am sorry that the concert was taken off air. What we did hear, Webern's Passacaglia, was to my ear enhanced by the distant choral counterpoint of the protestors!  In particular, having heard earlier in the day Gil Shaham's captivating account of the Barber violin concerto, I was looking forward to what he could bring out of Bruch's first.  Maybe enough of his performance survives to form part of the TV broadcast.

I deprecate the nature of the protest. However, it goes too far to say, as at least one letter to the press claims today, that the protest was anti-Semitic. The protestors, so one of my correspondents informed me, seemed indistinguishable from a normal Proms audience, the sort that had enjoyed much Mahler and Mendelssohn, not to mention the Jewish composers featured in the Film Night Prom. If the IPO had not been so closely identified with the Israeli state, and in particular with its armed forces, I am sure there would not have been so much trouble.

Ironically, the aforementioned Passacaglia was written by a man who clearly shared Catholic Austria's systemic anti-semitism of his time. I wonder if the programme schedulers were aware of Webern's past?

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