Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Maestro Christian Lindberg conducts the Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra's final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Guest artists: members of the Israeli Opera's Meitar Opera Studio

Photo: Avi Koren
In recent years, the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra has been winding up its annual concert season with the audience having its say, “When the Public Decides”. The 48th season was no exception. Under the direction of Christian Lindberg (Sweden), the NKO’s principal conductor ( house conductor: Shmuel Elbaz) subscribers were invited to vote for one out of four symphonies to be performed at the final concert; the majority of votes went to Schubert’s Symphony No.5. The rest of the program took listeners into the unbounded world of opera, with young singers of the Israeli Opera’s Meitar Opera Studio joining the orchestra to present opera numbers by Mozart and Rossini. This writer attended the concert at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on July 13th, 2019.


Franz Schubert’s Symphony No.5, written at age 19, the finest of his early symphonies, radiates youthful optimism. Scored for chamber orchestra, it shows the influence of Mozart, for whose music Schubert seemed to have felt a special affinity  A few months before completing Symphony No.5, on October 3, 1816, Schubert wrote in his diary that “the magic notes of Mozart’s music still gently haunt me...which no time, no circumstances can efface, and they lighten our existence…”  After its premiere - one private performance soon after its completion – the symphony was subsequently forgotten for 50 years. Lindberg’s own love of the work was reflected in his exuberant reading of it - in his performance of the brisk, sunny opening movement, the lyrical, songful yet gently reflective Andante con moto movement with just the occasional touch of unease, a somewhat forthright presentation of the Minuet, contrasted by the sweet freshness of its trio, then to move on to the carefree caper of the finale. This is delightful concert fare, its beauty enhanced by the NKO’s consistent and fine woodwind playing.


Gioachino Rossini reused the overture from his opera “Aurelia in Palmyra” for “The Barber of Seville” (or “The Useless Precaution”), which actually did not matter, since Rossini did not use themes from the relevant opera in any of his overtures. The NKO’s rendition of the overture, to what Rossini (in all modesty!) referred to as ”the most beautiful opera buffa there is”, bristled with gorgeous melodies, some exciting tutti and several lovely solos. Performing a scene from Rossini’s opera “La Cenerentola”, sopranos Veronika Brook and Efrat Hacohen-Bram, mezzo-soprano Maya Bakstansky and bass Pnini Leon Grubner displayed fine bel canto technique and playful Italian theatricality, setting the scene for what is, in fact, the story of Cinderella. The singers, all graduates of music academies presently receiving intensive opera training at the Meitar Opera Studio (director: David Sebba) before joining opera companies as soloists in Israel and overseas, had audience (and conductor) well entertained with their communicative, dedicated singing of pieces selected from Mozart operas, some humorous, some dramatic and even the Magic Flute’s “Queen of the Night” aria  (Veronika Brook).


Maestro Christian Lindberg is a renowned trombonist and composer. When he conducts NKO concerts, he talks to the audience in an informal, friendly way, providing information on the works performed and making for a sense of community.



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