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A Twelve Year Old Piano Prodigy Appears with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Careful nurturing is required to develop her formidable talent
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) featured the 12-year-old Israeli pianist, Maya Tamir, in its most recent subscription concert that was devoted to the music of Franz Joseph Haydn. This event was part of the IPO's Friday morning Intermezzo series at the Jerusalem Theater. Besides the music, the audience is also treated to coffee and cake. This concert series is introduced by well-known personalities. This time it was David Witzthum, author, pedagogue, and erudite TV editor and commentator. Witzthum gave a fascinating lecture on Haydn, replete with interesting anecdotes and quotes from Haydn, putting him into context to the music of the era and emphasizing his profound influence on the next generation of composers.
Maya Tamir played Haydn's piano concerto in D Major (Hob.XVIII:11). As can be seen on YouTube, this particular concerto is a frequent vehicle for prodigies. Tamir gave an insightful performance, her interpretation belying her age. At the outset, she was somewhat overwhelmed and displayed some anxiety, which probably accounts for some inconsistencies on the keyboard. However, she rapidly settled in. This was not a routine perfunctory run-through of a popular work, but a subtle interpretation with appropriate changes in tempo and dynamics. Her crescendos and diminuendos came at the right places and she blended in beautifully with the orchestra.
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One could argue that the IPO was amiss to devote a full subscription series, comprising four concerts, to this young prodigy. To make the public aware of her exceptional talents is one thing, and certainly an occasional concert with the IPO or other orchestras would be in order. However to devote a full series requires a leap of faith and I am not sure it serves Tamir's long-term interests. All great artists begin their careers as prodigies. However not all prodigies become great artists. Careful nurturing by family, teachers and other professionals is required for her to fulfill her phenomenal talents. Too early exposure can be detrimental to her full artistic development.
Yoel Levi, currently principal conductor of the Orchestre National d'Ile de France, was on the podium and he provided sympathetic accompaniment for the soloist in the piano concerto. In the second half of the concert he gave a most respectful account of Haydn's symphony No 104, The London, the last work in this genre, which he composed.
The orchestra responded beautifully with lush string playing. Levi successfully brought out the development of Haydn as a great symphonist and under his baton, Beethoven's indebtedness to Haydn became readily apparent. There was also some lovely woodwind and brass playing in the second movement. Maybe a little lighter touch was called for in the third movement especially the trio, which sounded a bit ponderous. Levi concluded the performance with a lively account of the final allegro movement, which ended with a flourish. This was an apt conclusion to a most satisfying concert.
The young 12 year old Maya Tamir. Credit: Rami Mor.
This article was originally published in Esra Magazine, Issue No 165, 2012

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