GISÈLE BEN-DOR , conductor



Haaretz, Classical music review

The Israel Chamber Orchestra landed a surprise.

By Hagai Hitron

The ICO and dancing couple. Interesting and pleasant, to the ear and the eye. © Photo, Shelly Boharon

Attached to the concert was the theme "Latin Passion", which camouflaged a great event starring a unique singer.

Conductor Ben- Dor, singers Tola and Machado and the Israel Chamber Orchestra, De Falla, Ginastera and a selection of Zarzuelas

In terms of content, one would expect excitement; In terms of performance, there were surprises, in the form of Virginia Tola (Argentina) and Achilles Machado (Venezuela).

Is Machado a surprise? Yes and, actually, no. As soon as I heard his voice, I remembered: Achilles Machado had already surprised many Israeli listeners when he performed with the Israel Philharmonic a year and a half ago in Verdi's "Masquerade Ball" (concert performance). His tenor is strong and of a special, captivating tone, signaling an opera singer in the top league, a fact confirmed in his performances with the best conductors of our generation. After the Israeli Chamber Orchestra concert, I told Machado that I was fascinated and he immediately said he was fascinated by Israel, even on the previous visit.

How could the Israeli Chamber Orchestra, which has no budget of the size of the Philharmonic, be able to summon such an artist? The answer is probably related to both the success in recruiting philanthropists and the musical connections of Gisele Ben Dor, an Israeli conductor whose roots are South American.

The second surprise was Virginia Tola, a deep soprano, with "Spanish Songs" by Manuel de Falla. These seven songs, each in itself a hit, have become very familiar since de Falla composed them in 1914 (for singer and piano) based on folk songs from various areas in his country - from south to north. Tola initially sounded somewhat hesitant (perhaps due to insufficient rehearsal with the orchestra), but "warmed up" later in the concert as a soloist on her own and at Machado's side. The next works were five Zarzuelas, by several composers, which raised the temperature. The second part of the event consisted of an Israeli premiere, Alberto Ginastera's complete ballet "Estancia" ("The Farm"), with a pair of our own dancers and Machado as narrator, with brief (and somewhat humorous) explanatory remarks.

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