With a farewell on the horizon, Zubin Mehta’s concert with the Israel Philharmonic is a triumph – Los Angeles Times

Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra are touring North America again — which ordinarily wouldn’t be considered a milestone. But this time it might be, because Mehta has decided to step down as the orchestra’s music director for life in October 2019 — 50 years after he became its music advisor and 42 years after he became its first official music director.

With no U.S. tours scheduled for 2018, it’s possible that Los Angeles has seen the last of one of the most durable conductor-orchestra teams in history, right up there with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra (44 years), Willem Mengelberg and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw (50 years) and Evgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic (also 50 years).

If Monday night turns out to be their last visit to Walt Disney Concert Hall, Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic went out in triumph — and not without a few new ideas.

Mehta was music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1962 to 1978. The last time I saw him in town with the Israel orchestra was two years ago in the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, whose 500-seat main hall proved to be too small and dry-sounding for a large orchestra. Back in Disney Hall, the orchestra’s sound bloomed and took on a clarity, with smoother execution and more solid underpinning. Knowing Disney Hall well, Mehta seated the cellos and basses left-center, the best way to get a firm bass sound here. (The Chicago Symphony Orchestra could not do the same with conventional hard-right cello-bass seating two Sundays ago.)


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