Music Performance Reviews
By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Perlman Music Program
10th Anniversary Celebration
Isaac Stern Auditorium
Raechel Alexander, Manager, Public Affairs
Antonio Vivaldi (1676-1741): Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor, Op. 3, No. 10 (1711), Allegro, Largo, Allegro.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 18, arr. for string orchestra (1859-60), Andante.
Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto for Violin in G Minor, Op. 8, No. 2, "Summer" (1725), Allegro, Largo, Allegro.
Traditional, arr. Sheldon Curry: Down to the River to Pray.
Traditional, arr. Brazeal Dennard: Hush! Somebody Callin’ My Name.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Concerto for Four Keyboards in A Minor (1730), Allegro, Largo, Allegro.
Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Introduction and Allegro for String Quartet and String Orchestra, Op. 47 (1905).
Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (1730-31), Largo.
Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893): Sextet for Strings in D Major, Op. 70, "Souvenir de Florence," arr. for string orchestra (1887-90, rev. 1892), Adagio, Allegro.
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 28, 2004
Itzhak Perlman, born in Israel, trained on violin in Tel Aviv, prior to his appearance in 1958, at the age of 13, on the Ed Sullivan Show. Mr. Perlman studied at Juilliard and soon began appearing successfully in renowned competitions and with famous orchestras around the globe. Lately, Mr. Perlman has performed as a conductor with major symphonies, e.g., Boston and Los Angeles. Mr. Perlman is a frequent talk show guest, a Grammy winning recording artist, an educator at the Perlman Music program, and a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor. (Carnegie Notes).
The Perlman Music Program, founded by Toby Perlman and Suki Sandler, is an intensive summer study of six weeks on Shelter Island, in which pre-college (12-18), gifted students of the violin, viola, cello, and piano interact with Mr. Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Joseph Kalichstein, Emanuel Ax, and other master teachers. Competition is discouraged, while mutual appreciation and collaboration are encouraged. And, everyone sings in a chorus. (Carnegie Notes).
This 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Perlman Music Program was a total delight, to see students onstage with the impassioned and respected Itzhak Perlman, as violinist, conductor, host, and raconteur. These "pre-college" students were interspersed with graduates of the Program, called "special guests", and sometimes played solo, sometimes duets, sometimes changed seats between movements (to get a "different perspective"), sometimes were slow in appearing onstage, and sometimes sang together with instructors, in unison, as a chorus. However, the most remarkable memory of this concert was the ambiance of adoration and cooperation between students, graduates, instructors, stagehands, and Mr. Perlman, including the student who turned Mr. Perlman’s music and the jokes Mr. Perlman told, as pianos were moved offstage.
Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins included the re-arrangement of students onstage between movements. In addition, students took turns in the first and third Allegro movements at second, third, and fourth violin, with Mr. Perlman always first, "because he’s the boss." If I closed my eyes, I might not realize that this orchestra was composed of young students and Mr. Perlman. The level of professional training was obvious. The Largo featured a harpsichord, wrapped within the strings.
Brahms’ String Sextet No. 1 was dedicated to the memory of Robert Harth, the late Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. This was a fitting work, heart-rending and harmonious, with stormy celli, like thrashing waves, followed by soaring sensations and breathtaking beauty. Some pleasant bass fingering added depth and richness to this melancholy melody. Vivaldi’s Summer (Concerto for Violin in G Minor) included a rapid and rapturous solo by Mr. Perlman, well appreciated, as his conducting time was borrowed from his performance time, and Mr. Perlman is a master violinist extraordinaire. With amazing timing, student violinists took solo turns, with Mr. Perlman on the final solo. This was a complicated feat of mental focus and technical agility.
The two traditional pieces were sung as a chorus, a Capella, with an energetic Patrick Romano as Chorus Master. Violinists, bassists, cellists, pianists, faculty, and Mr. Perlman all sang together in a soft and sensitive style. Bach’s Concerto for Four Keyboards was arranged after Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins, just performed before the intermission. Hearing the same violin themes repeated on keyboards was very educational and enjoyable. Mr. Perlman conducted this Concerto, as dual and four-way pianos intermittently took passages, merging with whispering strings that precede vibrant piano chords. The pianists, David Kadouch, Hannah Shields, Yoon-Jee Kim, and Alicia Gabriela Martinez, were poised and steady in this virtuosic endeavor.
Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for String Quartet, conducted by Mr. Perlman, included racing violins and celli, as well as melodic and lyrical passages. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins, Largo movement, was performed with tremendous timing, as 16 different soloists stand, as the previous soloist sits down. Mr. Perlman played first violin, and the 16 soloists individually shared solos for second violin. Tchaikovsky’s Sextet for Strings, Adagio and Allegro movements, began with a romantic and resonant quality. The Allegro movement proceeded like a galloping stallion, with solo violin extensions followed by racing string ensembles. The viola fingering was vivacious and the celli created deep, delicious melodies.
Kudos to Itzhak Perlman and the Perlman Music Program. Mr. Perlman invited the audience to visit the Program in Shelter Island, and I recommend looking into such a fascinating excursion.