The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra knew the difficulties they would face. Accordingly, they kept the proportions of this programme modest out of pragmatism rather than an expectation for encores, as richly deserved as they would have been. Despite security measures on entrance, the disruption started towards the end of Webern's 'Passacaglia' when a coordinated group of anti-Israel protesters stood and started singing. Fortunately, Webern's orchestration was finer than their disruptive chorus, and the variations' mighty weight was felt all the more acutely as the work grew to its stirring climax, judged with masterly poise by Zubin Mehta.

© BBC / Wilfried Hösl
© BBC / Wilfried Hösl

Unfortunately, the disturbances continued at the outset of the Bruch, and it took two attempts to get the work off its feet. However, when it eventually moved, it flew with majesty and beauty by turns. Gil Shaham's sound was glorious, filling the hall even in the quietest moments. Indeed, the tenterhooks of the piano passages were gold-plated, not only from the daring hush demanded by Shaham and Mehta's intimate partnership, but from the fearful expectation of further interruptions.

Western Andalucía was evoked in the selection of three movements from Albéniz's 'Iberia'. Originally written as a collection of twelve, super-virtuoso piano pieces in the first decade of the twentieth century, Albéniz embarked upon orchestrating them, so as to liberate their expressive medium from the limits of the keyboard. Either owing to his ailing health or his dissatisfaction on hearing his two initial expanded attempts played, he entrusted his lifelong friend, Enrique Fernández Arbós, to complete the set. Arbós certainly found all the colours of a countryside of heat-fuelled delirium, with its distinctive folk dances, and bustling port life. This is a more honest portrait of Spain than Rimsky-Korsakov's necessarily fictitious representation, revealing the darker and dirtier elements of this sun-soaked land and its wild bucolia. To this end, Mehta's characterisation was particularly perceptive, emphasising the contrast between the real and imagined.

However, it was Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Capriccio espagnol' that was the finest example of both musical multiculturalism and the orchestra's own polished blend. Written in 1887, it shows how readily musical style can be transported and adopted: just as Bizet effectively taught Debussy and Ravel all they knew about Spain, Glinka did the same for Rimsky-Korsakov. The result is a virtuoso display in terms of the orchestral palette and demanding instrumental facility, wonderfully handled by the IPO who toyed with the dance, and humoured the farce.

The impact of these demonstrations only increased the involvement and care for the music that performers and audience held alike; the music had to win, and, through dignity and beauty it did, triumphant on its moral high ground. The IPO will have undoubtedly won many more friends.