Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Egmont Overture, Op.84
Triple Concerto in C major, Op.56
Symphony No.6 in F major, Op.68 Pastoral
Navah Perlman (piano); Giora Schmidt (violin); Zuill Bailey (cello)
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra/Itzhak Perlman
rec. 22 March 2010, in concert, Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv, Israel
TV Format NTSC 16:9: Sound PCM Stereo: Region Code 0 (worldwide)
EUROARTS DVD 2058598 [90:00]
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 this DVD?
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 F minor.
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.
Jonathan Woolf 

Currently of limited interest. 

Masterwork Index: Pastoral symphony ~~ Triple concerto

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