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Zubin Mehta: In Rehearsal

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Director Peter Berggren set out to record the “live happenings” of conductor Zubin Mehta and the Israeli Philharmonic as they rehearsed Richard Strauss’s early masterpiece Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche. The intent was to break down the distance between conductor and audience, so the role of the maestro might seem less mysterious to viewers. Recording all the orchestra’s rehearsal sessions and the first run-through of the piece, the finished program draws on wealth of visual material to give a rare inside look at the creative process. 55 minutes.The In Rehearsal documentary series offers enthralling, profound insights into music making of the highest caliber. In this case, with Zubin Mehta conducting the Israel Philharmonic in a rehearsal of Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, those insights are sharpened by the knowledge that the orchestra is playing the piece for the very first time: the music of Strauss had been banned in Israel until 1994 as a reaction to his involvement with the Nazi party. Thus, though the initial run-through is somewhat scratchy (and causes a hilariously neurotic fit on the part of the principal horn player), the fact that the ensemble has no performance tradition of this piece means that every phrase has to be taken apart, explained, and put together again. We therefore see Mehta’s ability to make a phrase more comic or fuller of pathos by simple nips and tucks of note lengths, and hear his reasons for shaping the piece the way he does. –Warwick Thomson

Zubin Mehta: In Rehearsal

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