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Israel Philharmonic, Mintz: Old Pals

August 17, 1986|DANIEL CARIAGA

When violinist Shlomo Mintz returns to Hollywood Bowl this week, he will renew a relationship with the Israel Philharmonic that began in 1968, when he was 11.

"There's a lot of sentiment in our relationship," Mintz said in a telephone interview from his home in Stresa, Italy.

Mintz, who will turn 29 in November, continues to travel steadily as a soloist and recitalist. But he will remain in Italy until just a couple of days before his Thursday night Bowl appearance, when he plays Mozart's G-major Concerto in a performance to be conducted by Zubin Mehta, music director of the Israeli orchestra. The reason for his late arrival? His second son was born July 25 (the Mintzes' first child is 2).

"I want to be a proper father," Mintz says. "That's why I always try to take my family with me, wherever I go. It's not easy, of course--it's actually a big production." After his Bowl appearance, and before he goes to Japan and Germany for the month of September, Mintz will return to Italy. His home in Stresa is one of three residences the Mintzes maintain; the others are in West Germany ("between Koeln and Duesseldorf") and in New York.

Mintz is not looking for new directions in a career which has already reached a plateau of achievement. His recordings display the breadth of an eclectic repertory: Recently, he added the complete sonatas and partitas of Bach to a discography which already covers, in addition to standard 19th-Century literature, concerted works by Prokofiev and Bartok. Nor has Mintz neglected living composers; two years ago, he commissioned a violin concerto from George Neikrug.

Chamber music also occupies a large part of Mintz's interests.

"The problem in our busy concert life is getting the right people together at the right place," he acknowledges. "But when that happens, there's nothing like it." He mentions his recent partnership with pianist Yefim Bronfman, with whom he has now made two sonata albums, one devoted to music by Franck, Debussy and Ravel, the other to the nearly forgotten sonatas of Gabriel Faure.

"Faure is unjustly neglected," says Mintz. "I want to continue to play these sonatas, and also to perform the piano quintets and quartets. Faure was a very skilled composer but is not so easy to play, for he wrote in a unique style of instrumental chanson . He is at once very individual and very French. Singers have not neglected him, but we instrumentalists have."

A citizen of Israel, Mintz returns to Tel Aviv in mid-October, again to appear with the Israel Philharmonic, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. At concerts beginning the new season of the orchestra, Mintz, with Mehta conducting, will play the Violin Concerto of Beethoven. Speaking of his long-term musical relationship with Mehta, Mintz says, "I can never forget that he gave me my first opportunity."

Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic open the Bowl week--a week in which the Los Angeles Philharmonic, resident Bowl orchestra, takes a vacation--Tuesday night with a program devoted to music by Paul Ben-Haim, Verdi and Tchaikovsky. American soprano Leona Mitchell will sing arias from "Ballo in Maschera," "Ernani" and "La Forza del Destino."

Wednesday night, Mehta conducts Beethoven's Second Symphony and Gustav Holst's "The Planets." Thursday, when Mintz plays Mozart, the second half of the program is devoted to Bruckner's Eighth Symphony.

On the weekend the San Diego Symphony, conducted by its music director, David Atherton, plays two performances of the Tchaikovsky Spectacular for its Bowl debut.

With British pianist John Lill as soloist, this Tchaikovsky program includes the Fantasy, "The Tempest," the B-flat-minor Piano Concerto, a suite from "The Nutcracker" and, of course, the traditional "1812" Overture, with fireworks, cannon and marching band.

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