Review: Perlman delights at Proctors

Violinist Itzhak Perlman gave an unforgettable recital Saturday night at Proctors before an adoring

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For Gazette music writer Geraldine Freedman’s preview of this show, click here.

Violinist Itzhak Perlman gave an unforgettable recital Saturday night at Proctors before an adoring and near-capacity crowd. He was in exceptional form throughout the evening. His accompanist, Rohan De Silva, provided such a virtuosic and compatible sensitivity that the evening turned into a conversation in the joys of making music. The crowd had many moments to sigh or rejoice in wonder as the duo turned the concert into an intimate salon.

Now 65, Perlman no longer takes the heart-rending walks with crutches to a chair at center stage. He’s discovered the ease of using a motorized wheelchair, which he propelled with great speed on and off the stage.

His program was initially traditional: Mozart’s Sonata in A Major, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 7 in C minor and Dvorak’s Sonatina in G Major. De Silva had much of the work in the Mozart, which he played with a clean, even and very light technique. Perlman’s tempos were spirited and merry and his technique sparkled. As he wheeled off, the crowd buzzed.

When he returned, he diplomatically told the crowd he’d had an urgent call from Mr. Beethoven backstage that the crowd should not applaud after every movement — as it had during the Mozart. This brought many laughs but the point was taken.

Perlman’s Beethoven was superb. He played with much vigor, rhythmic tautness, a focused intensity, assertive bowing, strong pacing, snappy articulations and some rough attacks for emphasis. All of Beethoven’s humor and drama were explored, bolstered by both men’s effortless techniques.

In Dvorak’s four movements, Perlman played the Czech folk rhythms and dances with great nuance, a warm and robust tone with his signature tight vibrato, rigorous rhythms and a lovely connectedness to his phrases in the flashy ending.

The five showpieces were vintage Perlman. No one can spin out a melody with such purity or schmaltz up a gypsy rhythm like Perlman. And few can match the brilliance and quicksilver speed with which he can play hundreds of notes. All were done without effort: Kreisler’s “Sicillienne et Rigaudon”; Kreisler’s transcription of Gluck’s exquisite “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from “Orfeo ed Euridice”; Wieniawski’s Caprice in D minor; Joachim’s transcription of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5; and a piece by Ries. In between each of these, Perlman provided humorous quips that the crowd ate up.

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