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Margo Kline: Violinist Itzhak Perlman Wows Granada Crowd

The masterful recital with pianist Rohan de Silva receives standing ovations

Israeli-born violinist Itzhak Perlman rolled onto the stage of The Granada on Thursday night on his motorized scooter, cradling his violin, and proceeded to delight a full-house audience.

Perlman never ceases to amaze with his peerless musicianship, his vitality and his impish personality.

Born in Tel Aviv and stricken with polio at age 4, Perlman never seems to slow down or to let anything impede him in bringing his musical gift to his audiences.

At The Granada, he was accompanied by Rohan de Silva, a brilliant pianist who frequently appears with Perlman, and a whole roster of other premiere violinists, such as Gil Shaham and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

The concert began with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, K. 526. The second movement, andante, was especially poignant, reminding us that Mozart wrote it around the time he was composing his most profound opera, Don Giovanni. The first and third movements were more upbeat, but this was the mature Mozart, and the music was still deeper than his earlier works.

Next up was the Sonata for Violin and Piano in E-Flat Major, Opus 18 by Richard Strauss, written when the composer was all of 23 years old. Young Strauss was blessed not only with genius but with a father who was a prominent horn player in the Munich Court Orchestra. With this beginning, the younger Strauss was almost guaranteed success. Composed in three movements, the sonata is grand and somewhat Wagnerian, which didn’t please the conservative father but was the young Strauss’ chosen direction for all of his long life.

After the intermission, Perlman and de Rohan played Igor Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne for Violin and Piano, consisting of six parts pulled from the ballet Pulcinella. Stravinsky played the piano and Samuel Dushkin the violin in a series of concerts in the 1930s, because the composer wanted to expose his music to a wider audience than that attending his ballets.

Although the suite was well-received, contemporary accounts say Stravinsky never really became comfortable with the combination of strings in the piano and strings on the violin, and he didn’t write another piece pairing the two instruments. This didn’t deter Thursday’s audience from giving Perlman and de Rohan a standing ovation.

The remainder of the concert was given over to a selection of Perlman’s favorites, including the theme from Schindler’s List by John Williams and The Dance of the Goblins by Antonio Bazzini. Before introducing the latter from the stage, Perlman chuckled and said, “Bazzini and (Giacomo) Puccini were contemporaries. Puccini composed so many ravishing melodies — and Bazzini composed this.”

A bit of research reveals that Bazzini actually wrote quite a lot of music, including operas, but nothing on the scale of Puccini. But The Dance of the Goblins was charming and the audience received it with another ovation.

— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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