This is a souvenir of an all-Beethoven concert held in the Mann
Auditorium, Tel Aviv in March 2010. I say souvenir rather loosely.
Clearly it’s more than that inasmuch as it records for
posterity a single concert, but perhaps it’s less than
that too. Itzhak Perlman conducts, as is increasingly the case
these days, and he has three personable young soloists, including
his pianist daughter Navah, for the Triple Concerto.
Camera shots are unexceptionable, but consistently good. Editing
has been proficiently carried out. The sound quality is standard
PCM stereo and the formats are par for the course. So, given
all the above, what is there seriously to make one want to own
Curiosity, I suppose, regarding Perlman’s conducting may
be one reason. It’s perfectly reasonable. The technique
is jerky and rather plain with up and down wavers but I suspect
his cues are good enough for the wind and brass. He has the
fiddler’s tendency to vibrate with the left hand when
he wants more tone and occasionally a headmasterly beckoning
of the finger in moments of agitation. Of course he is seated
throughout. But I wonder if this is enough to generate interest.
His conducting is gemütlich, and plush.
The Egmont Overture is stentorian, and quite broad. The
Triple Concerto with Navah Perlman (piano), Giora Schmidt (violin)
and Zuill Bailey (cello) introduces these fresh and attractive
artists in a mainstream kind of performance where collegiate
and congenial interplay is uppermost in mind. The pianist wears
a red dress, the violinist jacket and tie, whilst the cellist
broods Byronically in a very open-necked shirt. I find my attention
wandering rather too early on in this concerto, but the visual
necessities of paying attention do, it’s true, encourage
more concentrated listening. The trio plays a little encore:
an arrangement of Schubert’s Moment musical in
The Pastoral Symphony occupies the rest of the programme.
One notices that Perlman has a little habit of licking his fingertips
when conducting, possibly the better to turn the pages of the
score, though it is rather distracting, and must be so for the
orchestra, on the rare occasions one catches anyone actually
looking at him. The Israel Philharmonic is, indeed, on head-down
form here. The brass and winds look for cues, and very occasionally,
when it’s most necessary, some of the strings do too.
But otherwise this is a solidly straightforward performance,
where most of the work went on in rehearsal, and I suspect most
of that centred on the balancing questions in the Triple. It’s
not, though, a bad performance by any means.
One shouldn’t be ungrateful. It would have been of huge
historic and archival interest had more concert performances
been recorded in the 1940s and 1950s. We’d be grateful
now. So maybe in 50 years time this will be of interest to admirers
of Perlman, or indeed of one of the soloists. Zuill Bailey,
for instance, seems to making a name for himself. For now it’s
of very much more limited interest.
Masterwork Index: Pastoral
symphony ~~ Triple