Itzhak Perlman thrills with soulful playing at Riverside
Sixty years and a few days ago a 13year-old Israeli violinist appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” launching a career that would span decades, transcend cultures and take him around the globe countless times.
That was Itzhak Perlman, the world-renowned violinist who played to more than 1,300 mesmerized fans at the Riverside Theater on Thursday evening, in a recital with pianist Rohan de Silva.
Over the years, the technical ferocity of that teenage boy has been replaced by an absolute ease with the instrument and a deeply soulful musicality that permeates everything he plays.
Perlman and de Silva opened with Alfred Schnittke’s “Suite in the Old Style” for violin and piano, capturing the distinct character of each movement. They moved to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 7 in C minor, and Antonin Dvorak’s Sonatina in G Major, playing these pieces like the Schnittke — as though reading each other’s minds.
Their musical connection went beyond the technical details matching of tempos, styles, articulations, and phrasings, and beyond capturing the character of each composer and each movement.
They found the emotional core of the pieces, in seamless, richly musical deliveries built of exquisite communication, beautifully sculpted phrases, and exquisite hand-offs of ideas and phrase fragments.
Announcing the remainder of the program from the stage, Perlman was utterly charming as he flipped through a pile of music, as though looking for something to suit his mood, talking to the audience and making gentle-spirited jokes as he searched.
During this break from traditional recital protocol, Perlman held the audience in the palm of his hand as he announced and then played several lovely, short pieces and transcriptions by Kreisler, Wieniawski, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Joachim, along with a heartbreaking rendition of John Williams’ “Theme from Schindler’s List,” which Perlman performed for the film.
Perlman managed to deliver this moving program despite the fact that the Riverside was simply too big a hall for an intimate recital program, and despite a lot of noise from the lobby areas.
Perlman won several standing ovations over the course of the evening, the last continuing until the house lights came up.
Violinist Itzhak Perlman was charming and conversational during his show at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater on Thursday.