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Encore, Zubin Mehta!

April 11, 2005 16:33 IST

Zubin MehtaIt was a treat for the ears, listening to Beethoven's Egmont Overture live in concert instead of on a CD!

And it was a treat for the eyes to watch the great Zubin Mehta swish his baton, swerve his body and concentrate all his energies to bring the great composer's dramatic music alive.

Cellos, violas, tubas, basses, oboes, trumpets and a host of other instruments rang out from the 120-member Maggio Musicale Fiotentino Orchestra, a Grammy Award winning orchestra from Italy, which performed at Mumbai's National Centre for Performing Arts last weekend.

Next, we listened to the sweet strains of a lone violin in Beethoven's Violin Concerto.

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Thirty-year-old Julian Rachlin, considered one of the most dynamic violinists of his generation, demonstrated his mastery with the fiddle.

He received a thunderous applause, and a chorus of 'encores,' from the audience. He willingly obliged.

Post interval, we awaited the grand finale -- Beethoven's Symphony number 7.

So much drama, energy and passion in the playing, the conducting and the music, it was nothing less than a hair-raising experience to listen to this masterpiece, conducted by maestro Mehta himself.

The audience did commit a few faux pas by clapping before the end of the piece, during the pauses. But the orchestra smiled and just played on.

Mumbai's classical music enthusiasts revelled in the experience, some tapping their toes, some closing their eyes and some looking bewildered by the sheer power of the performance.

A huge applause was in order, with another chorus for encores. Finally, the orchestra applauded for their conductor and the audience by banging their feet on stage, but even this sound was drowned by the audience applause.

Zubin MehtaFor this unique experience, we must be grateful to Mstislav Rostropovich, the 'greatest living' cellist who first suggested the idea of a concert in Mumbai. A year later, three concerts were presented by the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation in Mumbai.

Mehta also conducted 78-year-old Rostropovich in composer Antonin Dvorak's Concerto the day before, a piece which they first performed together way back in 1964.

Zubin Mehta is the son of Mehli Mehta, the founder and conductor of the Bombay Symphony. He was born in 1936 in Mumbai, and his original career aspiration was to do medicine. But at the age of 18, he opted out and traveled to study music at the Academy of Music in Vienna. He went on to become one of the world's greatest conductors.

The proceeds of the April 10 concert will go towards tsunami relief efforts. The tickets were priced between Rs 1,000 and Rs 4,000.

The proceeds of the April 8 and 9 concerts (tickets priced between Rs 500 and Rs 3,000) will go towards establishing a music school in Mumbai.

Photograph: Shailesh Mule/Fotocorp

Merril Diniz