Itzhak Perlman with pianist Rohan De Silva in recital
Review: Itzhak Perlman delivers … as always: Itzhak Perlman delivered more than two hours of technical skill and musical virtuosity in his second visit to Wisconsin in less than a year
By Michael Muckian
May 1, 2017
Reviewing a concert by violinist Itzhak Perlman is a little like criticizing a sunset. Some rays might appear less luminous than others due to conditions, while other colors may shine more brightly, but the net effect is always sublime.
Perlman is much the same, proving it once again to a nearly sold-out at Overture Hall crowd in Madison Saturday evening. Accompanied by long-time collaborator and pianist Rohan De Silva, Perlman delivered more than two hours of technical skill and musical virtuosity in his second visit to Wisconsin in less than a year.
Perlman’s playlist included four scheduled works, as well as five additional shorter numbers, the result of impromptu decisions made while sifting through a large pile of sheet music while on stage.
Perlman’s selections, unfortunately, were augmented by several cellphones ringing during the show’s quieter moments, including a more literate offender, whose ringtone was the opening bars to Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachmusik.” Needless to say, the performer was not amused, but managed to make that one into a joke.
“I hope none of you has Schumann on your phone,” Perlman quipped in reference to the composer’s “Fantasiestücke, Op. 75,” the evening’s third scheduled selection.
The violinist had arranged the evening in an orderly and historically ordered schedule, preceding Schumann first with Vivaldi’s “Sonata in A Major for Violin and Continuo, Op. 2 No. 2.” This was followed by Beethoven’s “Sonata No. 1 in D Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 12, No. 1,” thus effectively covering both the 18th and early 19th centuries. Schumann rounded out the pre-intermission program.
Both performers were in fine form for the Vivaldi work, a spritely composition that end on a high note. The Mozart cellphone intrusion occurred between movements of the Beethoven work, which seemed to affect Perlman’s rhythm. The audience applauded what it thought was the closing Rondo: Allegro movement, but Perlman and De Silva ignored the response, waiting for it to subside before moving on, causing some to wonder if the Beethoven work was truly at its end.
Without cellphone intrusion, the Schumann composition went off without a hitch.
Ravel’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in G Major” opened the second half, and Perlman took the microphone and talked at length about the composer, his love of jazz and its affect on the composition.
“At times it will sound as if the piano and the violin are playing two different compositions, but it all works together beautifully,” Perlman told the audience.
He was right in his assessments. The unusual early 20th Century work was a distinct departure in style and delivery from the preceding works, and all did work together beautifully.
The violinist’s round of impromptu choices included, as usual, a composition by violinist Fritz Kreisler, as well as “Lensky’s aria” from Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin and another less familiar violin work.
As he often does, Perlman performed John Williams’ theme from the film Schindler’s List, an instant crowd-pleaser that always tugs the heartstrings. He closed the evening with Brahms’ rousing “Hungarian Dance No. 1.”
The robust melody brought the crowd to its feet, but that was really no more than an afterthought. Madison audience members were ready to given Perlman and De Silva a standing ovation the moment they took the stage.
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