Cast: Agnes Méth
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra - a groundbreaking fusion of Israeli and Palestinian musicians, co-engineered by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim - formally took residency at the Salzburg Festival in 2007. One of the sets from that event appears in this performance release. Selections include: "Variations for Orchestra, op. 31" by Arnold Schoenberg, "Overture 'Leonore III' op. 72" by Beethoven, "Symphony No. 6 in B. Minor op. 74 'Pathétique'" by Tchaikovsky and "Sinfonia concertante in E flat major K.297b" by Mozart.
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When a performance is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, it is natural to expect good things. In this case, he is conducting the West Eastern Divan Orchestra which consists of young musicians from Israel, Palestine, and various Arab countries. And Barenboim and his musicians deliver. The program consists of Beethoven’s “Leonore III” Overture (Op. 72), Schoenberg’s “Variations for Orchestra (Op. 31)”, and Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony (No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74). A bonus is Mozart’s “Sonfonia concertante in E-flat Major, K. 297b. The Beethoven is well performed, featuring some nice horn work from young people in the orchestra. As for the Schoenberg…well…I’m not fond of Schoenberg and while the piece was played well, I have no desire to listen to it again. This is my failing, not Mr. Barenboim’s or the orchestra. The Tchaikovsky, however, is really nice, and the string sections sound great. Mr. Barenboim’s conducting style is very direct and gently guiding, although it is very clear what he is expecting, when he is expecting it, and that the orchestra wants to give it to him. Finally, the Mozart is just wonderful, featuring some delightful bassoon and oboe work from the orchestra, as well as really eloquent string work from the violins and violas. Good stuff. I enjoyed this disc, minus the Schoenberg, and am pleased to have it in my collection.