Zubin Mehta first worked with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) in 1969. In 1977, he was appointed its musical director and in 1981, his contract was extended for life. Now, he will make a stop at Musikfest Berlin on his last tour with this orchestra, with which he shares a deep mutual bond. Together, they will bestow a classicistic prelude on the festival’s headstrong hero, Hector Berlioz,wah and his probably best-know work, the Symphonie fantastique.
Ödön Pártos was one of the IPO’s pioneers. In 1938, Bronislav Huberman invited him to join the newly founded orchestra as a solo violist. Pártos, who had studied the violin under Jenö Hubay and composition with Zoltán Kodály, among others, in his native Budapest, had worked as a concert musician in Berlin from 1927 and taken the position of leader of the Orchester des Jüdischen Kulturbunds in 1933, stayed at the IPO in this function until 1956. As a composer, he represents a modernism that included the exploration of oriental traditions into their work, based on European experiences. The Concertino, which he composed for string quartet in 1932 and revised for string orchestra in 1939, was the only work from his European period which he would later acknowledge. The composition by the then 25-year-old is still strongly influenced by Bartók and his idea of ensemble virtuosity.
From the beginning, Huberman insisted on leading IPO musicians also performing with the orchestra as soloists, either individually or in groups, as, for example, in Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante. Some elements of this rare genre, which was particularly popular in France, resonated in Berlioz’ Fantastique: in its way of leading instruments like characters in a drama – for instance in the dance scene of the second movement or the long-distance duet between cor anglais and oboe in the third – but most of all in the hellishly fathomless brilliance of the finale.