Classical Review: Israel Sinfonietta – first non-Jewish German music director of the Sinfonietta, or of any Israeli orchestra since the Holocaust.

[From the Jerusalem Post]

Justus Franz is the first non-Jewish German music director of the Sinfonietta, or of any Israeli orchestra since the Holocaust.

Justus Franz – pianist, conductor, Schleswig-Holstein Festival founder, organizer, educator and new music director of Israel Sinfonietta – opened the Negev orchestra’s 2013-2014 season with a program of two 19th century German masterpieces.

He led both with authority, presence and engaging musicianship: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (commemorating the orchestra’s fifth decade); and Mendelssohn’s infrequently heard Symphony No.2, “Hymn of Praise” (1840), based on biblical verses (mostly from Psalms).

Notably, Justus Franz is the first non-Jewish German music director of the Sinfonietta, or in fact, of any Israeli orchestra since the Holocaust.

Mendelssohn’s magnificent hour-long Opus 52 (in the shadow of Beethoven’s “Choral” Ninth Symphony) was composed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first book ever printed on movable type – Gutenberg’s Bible. It strives to echo biblical ethos, giving testimony to its manifold aspects of faith.

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