Perlman in Cincinnati: The “most ravishing” Bruch Concerto

Perlman in Cincinnati: The “most ravishing” Bruch Concerto

Itzhak Perlman delivered an inspiring performance of Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1
(Photo credit: Lee Snow)

Review: Itzhak Perlman delivers Bruch from the heart with CSO
Cincinnati Enquirer
By Janelle Gelfand
April 19, 2017

Violinist Itzhak Perlman made his entrance in the Taft Theatre on Tuesday to deafening applause and a standing ovation before he had even played a note.

Using crutches, he carefully maneuvered himself from his motorized scooter to his chair, smiled to maestro Louis Langrée, the musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the packed theater, and then lifted his priceless Stradivarius to play the most ravishing music you’ve ever heard in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

Polio that he contracted as a child has weakened his legs. But it was clear from Perlman’s heartfelt performance on Tuesday that none of his unforgettable artistry has diminished.

Perlman’s appearance, a single-night special concert that quickly sold out, had something of a gala atmosphere. And small wonder. His honors alone – 16 Grammys and a Lifetime Achievement Award, four Emmys, a Kennedy Center Honor, the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest honor – add up to living legend status.

He’s also an advocate for people with disabilities and a dedicated music educator. (About 30 students from the School for Creative and Performing Arts attended his rehearsal.)

Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G Minor is a staple of every major artist. Yet, its beauty, as it unfolded in streams of melody, seemed tailor-made for Perlman’s sweet tone and rapturous phrasing.

The slow movement left the most indelible impression. Here, the violinist’s musical phrases were imbued with warmth and humanity. His occasional romantic slide up or down to a note gave the music an old-world glow. His performance was deeply introspective and somehow personal. The audience hung on every note.

The finale, a technical showpiece, may not have been as brisk as some would play it, but Perlman navigated its demands with fire and spirit. Langrée was an excellent partner, who kept a refined balance and whipped up excitement in the tutti (orchestra) passages.

Perlman, 71, whose last CSO appearance was in 2011 as soloist and conductor, returned for several bows, beaming broadly to the audience.

Click here to read the full review online.