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Musical World

Gisele Ben-Dor

  • Conductor


Gisele Ben-Dor reviews / press

“Color and drama flowed through the ensemble… 
The composer's characteristically brief, telling motives viewed from varied contrapuntal and timbral angles shone under Ben-Dor's intuitive direction"

-Boston Globe
May 2007

Beauty and Tragedy of the Tango
"The Hall looked much like a giant tango salon. An atmospherically lighted stage, much music by Astor Piazzolla, wonderful soloists, an outstandingly playing orchestra, a presenter (Thomas van der Veeke) with a feeling for the beauty and tragedy of the tango. And this illusion was made come true, especially when the tango sounded up in smaller forces.

With much drive and accurately lead by the Uruguayan-born Gisèle Ben-Dor, the Rotterdam Philharmonic clearly felt at home with the Argentinean idiom. In the Presto of Piazzolla’s Concerto for bandoneon and orchestra it delivered a fine accompaniment. In the first of Piazzolla’s Movimientos tanguísticos porteños the struggle of the immigrants in their New World was given an impressive voice, and in the second movement there were some ravishing wind solos. Then the orchestra left the city for the pampa, where it played a beautifully hushed Danza del trigo from Ginastera’s ballet Estancia.

In the hectic final movement the horses went galloping, but Gisèle Ben Dor perfectly held their reins."

-Algemeen Dagblad

Liberated Energies:
Conductor Gisele Ben-Dor and the BSO at the Bern Culture Center.
"Gisele Ben-Dor has a reputation as a passionate conductor, a passion she brought to Bern…
In this occasion, it showed that when tango-music is performed with such commitment, it belongs in a regular concert program.

For the two other works (Ginastera’s Panambi and Dvorak’s Symphony #8) , the BSO shed all its restraint at Ben-Dor’s urgings...
Extraordinarily, Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony fit well in this (program) configuration. Gisèle Ben-Dor interprets the work passionately, emphasizing its folkloristic characteristics. The Argentinian conductor led the BSO with an exceptional presence. She allowed for a refreshing approach to the Dvorak symphony and demonstrated that similar compositional drives can be found even as they are removed from time and place. …. "

-Der Bund

A superb reissue of Ginastera's colourful and lively early ballets.
"It was a characteristically bold step by the 21-year-old Ginastera to make Op. 1 an ambitiously scored orchestral ballet rather than a modest suite or chamber piece.  Of course, he had written such works--mostly withdrawn and destroyed--but the one-act choreographic legend Panambi (1935-37) was several strides forward and as impressive a compositional debut as any.

Drawn from an Amerindian tribal legend, the plot concerns the love of Guirahu for the chief's daughter, Panambi, and the machniantions of the lcoal sorcerer, who also desires her.  A battle between good and evil plays out across a single night, opening with wonderful, impressionistic moonlight and ending with a radiant hymn to the dawn.  In between, the expertly scored music is largely restrained, though with some electrifying episodes along the way.

Panambi betrays Ginastera's formatice influences clearly, The Rite of Spring and Ravel in particular.  The vividly achieved, primitivist atmosphere (not unlike the music of Revueltas) necessary for the story is absent from his follow-up ballet Estancia (1941).  Some of the latter's music is so well known, thanks to the popular Suite, that it may surprise that this recording of the whole was a premiere.  Absent, too, is the self-consciousness of Panambi as a public statement; in Estancia one can hear Ginastera relax as he whips up a greater storm.

Gisèle Ben-Dor and the LSO are splendid throughout, sounding as impressive as they did to Lionel Salter eight years ago.  In Panambit they are superior to the Poznari Philharmonic Orchestra's premiere version for Largo (nla; their version of the Estancia Suite was mediocre but they include the worldless choral parts in Panambi).  Luis Gaeta makes a splendid soloist in Estancia. Recommended."

-Gramophone Magazine
Guy Richards

"So ferocious a talent...just the conductor we have been waiting for to make a really persuasive case for Latin composers"

-Los Angeles Times
Mark Swed

"Ben-Dor casts her spell ... a tremendous musician, expert technician, charismatic performer"

-Boston Globe
Anthony Tomassini

Stepping in Unrehearsed
"The New York Philharmonic series just ended was hardly typical, with its change of conductor for the final performance, yet that unusual aspect made it seem all the more worthwhile …….If Ms. Ben-Dor had merely survived in a work as complex as the Mahler under the circumstances... she would have done well; she did more, making the interpretation ... her own."

-The New York Times
James Oesterreich

"GLORIOUS is not a word I use often. But the concert that capped the New World Symphony's weeklong tribute to Astor Piazzolla and Nuevo Tango was glorious. .. jumping in for the indisposed Robert Spano… conducting to her doesn't seem a ''job,'' but rather a calling to perform music exactly as it is supposed to sound"

-The Miami Herald
James Roos

"The biggest revelation here is Gisèle Ben-Dor…. passion and intensely personal involvement with this music go a long way to convince listeners of the immense pleasures of the unjustly neglected Revueltas"

"…a brilliant young conductor with a real sense for the rhythmic life of this score, makes the London Symphony Orchestra seem very much at home in the Pampas. This is a highly recommended, unusual and immensely enjoyable recording.(Ginastera)"

-The San Francisco Chronicle
Octavio Rocca

"Ben-Dor was the best thing ever to happen to the Santa Barbara Symphony.. We were honored by her presence, musicianship and courage..."

-The Santa Barbara News Press
Joseph Woodward

"A formidable conductor….. precision, passion and power. Boldly conceived, meticulously executed, a thrilling performance."

-The Santa Barbara News Press
Michael Smith

"She has enriched our musical life beyond measure, and her contributions to our community are virtually numberless."

-The Santa Barbara Independent
Gerald Carpenter

"Gisèle Ben-Dor is a master conductor. Rarely has the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande sounded at once so sensitive and powerful. The ability to reveal clearly the slightest nuance of the text and unchain the utmost sonic violence at the same time is the mark of great musicians. The Uruguayan conductor set Ginastera's opera on fire."

-Tribune de Genève

"The sinister evening was dominated by Gisèle Ben-Dor's iron fist. The Uruguayan conductor offered a white hot approach to this difficult score, constantly maintaining an ideal balance between the stage and the pit. "

-Le Figaro

"Superb command…..the dramatic tension, emotional climate and rich sound turned out to be one of the major contributions to this performance"

-The Jerusalem Post