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 which 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 Witztum, author, pedagogue and erudite TV editor and commentator, who gave a fascinating lecture on Haydn replete with interesting anecdotes and quotes from Haydn, putting him into the context of the music of the era, 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 You Tube, this particular concerto is a frequent vehicle for prodigies. Maya 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 keyboard inconsistencies. 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.   

One could argue that the IPO was amiss in devoting 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 in faith and I am not sure it serves Maya 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.




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MEA Piano Studio
You're amazing Maya, hope to hear more of your music

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About the author

Irving Spitz

Irving Spitz was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.  He holds MD, PhD and DSc degrees from the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of ...

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