Six up and two down. That's the primary theme from Adios Nonino: six rising notes followed by two falling notes. And, that is just about all that survives in this remarkable performance of Adios Nonino by Zubin Mehta and the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. The performance was captured on a cell phone by Jorge Liebermann in Buenos Aires in August, 2009. The video quality is what you might expect from a cell phone but the sound is surprisingly good. Mr. Liebermann was not there alone - there were 6,000 people at Luna Park sharing the moment. To have such a famous conductor and orchestra honor a hometown composer must have pleased the crowd. The performance was executed flawlessly and to one only vaguely familiar with the original composition, it must have been a thrilling experience.
But, there must have been more than one attendee leaving the concert shaking their head. I have never heard a more insulting arrangement of the piece. The intent, the structure, the rhythmic core, the harmonies - they are all gone. On a few occasions the music Piazzolla wrote struggles to escape only to be strangled and stuffed back into the sack of musical lyricism. To bring such an arrangement to Buenos Aires, the source of Piazzolla's musical inspiration, suggests that Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic have a cultural tin ear of huge proportion.
What a disappointment.
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