Perlman’s Bruch concerto in Naples is “off the charts”

Perlman’s Bruch concerto in Naples is “off the charts”

Itzhak Perlman (Photo credit: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco)

Review: Perlman, Respighi’s ‘Pines,’ Cathedral Visit
Naples Daily News
By Harriet Howard Heithaus
December 22, 2016

“As a concert, Tuesday night’s performance at Artis—Naples was off the grid. As a program, it was off the charts.

The audience had little time to sit back -— but who wanted to? — during an array of high-drama works that swept from Bruch’s finger-tangling violin concerto to Respighi’s classic “Pines of Rome.” The Naples Philharmonic, under the baton of assistant conductor Yaniv Segal, handled it all deftly, infusing the rush of emotions that characterize Jennifer Higdon’s percussion-fest “blue cathedral” and dropping down to a whisper for the tender second movement of the Bruch. Any classical music lover who missed this concert should weep; it was for one night only.

The concert was not a Masterworks program. It was billed as an Itzhak Perlman event, and he did not disappoint his fans, who filled Hayes Hall with sustained applause as Perlman, who is on crutches because of polio, made his way to the performance chair from his motorized cart. And then, for possibly his millionth time, Perlman set its haunting opening theme in motion, setting up the dialogue between orchestra and violin that gives the virtuoso ample opportunities to shine. Or suffer, because of the finger-numbing runs and trills.

There was, in the first movement, what sounded like a note that needed fixing on several of the runs. But Perlman is still capable of his thrill trills; he is a hummingbird at play in this concerto, a constant on the list of top 10 ever written. And the dense final movement, set up with two-note pairings in an orchestral introduction, came to him like an old friend — Perlman smiled as he romped through its double stops and basement-to-stratosphere leaps.

This is movement that absolutely must be sustained by the orchestra, and the philharmonic had the memo figuratively taped to their music stands; they were a powerful, dynamically astute team with Segal. We feel certain Bruch — even though he saw the overwhelmingly popular concerto as his albatross — would have approved.

Fortunately for the audience, Perlman had the stamina and desire to play the theme from “Schindler’s List” as an encore. It was a soulful rendition with that defined edge of restraint that makes Perlman so great.”

If you didn’t get to the concert Tuesday and are feeling bad, to a certain extent I can join you: I wish I could hear the whole evening again.”

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