Itzhak Perl­man thrills with soul­ful play­ing at River­side

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Green Sheet - Elaine Sch­midt Spe­cial to Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - WIS­CON­SIN

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.

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