… The music was the thing. Within the makeshift stage-shell, some 70 musicians played Bruckner for Talmi as if lives were at stake.
The orchestra had never encountered the heroic sprawl of the Symphony No.3 before. Talmi, who has a special affinity for the hyper-Romantic German repertory, intends to play one Bruckner symphony a year in San Diego until he has explored the entire canon. He has already ventured the 7th and 9th.
The San Diego Symphony is enjoying uncommon artistic health. The Israeli maestro has transformed an eager but scraggly band into something remarkably close to a world-class ensemble.
On this occasion, he inspired his players to the point where Bruckner's one-hour marathon actually sounded short and easy. That is a very difficult achievement.
Favoring the relatively compact 1889 edition of the Third and conducting from memory, he kept the tone slender and the rhetoric taut. He luxuriated in the brilliant climaxes and found ample excitement in the passages of convoluted agitation. He also defined the poetry of the otherworldly Adagio with extraordinary sensitivity.
This conductor knows the secret of restraint. He never exaggerates, never dawdles, never adds his own theatricality to the composer's indulgent drama. For all the built-in bombast, Talmi's Bruckner is compelling because it is so lean, so clean and so thoughtful.
One wonders why the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which employs many a less-gifted conductor during its extended winter and summer seasons, never calls upon Talmi. He could be a very useful guest on the podium both at the Music Center and Hollywood Bowl.