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WGUC Reviews

Live in Ramallah

Live in Ramallah
Daniel Barenboim
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
Review by: Robert Zierolf

A symphony orchestra is an intense social environment. Stand partners and sections must, by necessity, cooperate (despite notorious attempts to avoid it), and the emotion of close interaction in the act of making music is often a potent experience, especially for the young members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Formed in 1998-99 by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said as an attempt to diffuse Middle Eastern tensions, an equal number of Israeli and Arab musicians comprise the orchestra, which is based in Andalusia and tours widely. This CD is a recording of a live performance in Ramallah on August 21, 2005. Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, and "Nimrod" from Elgar's Enigma Variations are better performed on other recordings, but listening to the West-East Divan Orchestra under Barenboim while imagining the political ramifications of this concert in this location provokes contemplation of the courage of those willing to embrace music in the face of danger most of us can only imagine.

Barenboim's address to the Ramallah audience, included on the CD, captures eloquently the emotions of this undertaking.


Sound Quality:

Robert Zierolf is Professor of Music Theory and History and Division head of Composition, Musicology, and Theory at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He is also a freelance writer on classical music.


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