Highly anticipated, sold out with filled seats spilling over onto the stage, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman showed up at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall for their WPAS-presented duo-recital. They opened with Bach’s (or is it?) Sonata for Two Violins and Keyboard in G, BWV 1037. Thick textures made Bach appear as Barber for a while, and the mediocre, uninspired pianism of accompanist Rohan De Silva (he plunked down one plump chord after another, never developed a line, failed to do anything imaginative to the basic instructions Bach gives in the score) didn’t help much, either. Still, this apocryphal work is lovely enough a piece for two violins that need to come up with repertoire.
Cecelia Porter, Perlman and Zukerman: Double the Pleasure (Washington Post, April 26)
Jeremy Eichler, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman at Avery Fisher: The Stars, the Strings, the Bravos (New York Times, April 27)
More than welcome diversion, it was during these short pieces that Perlman was at his very best; much better than in the routine Mozart Duo for Violin and Viola, K. 423. It is nice, as anything by Mozart, but doesn’t strike as particularly inspired music; the violist Mozart may have given the two instruments equal material, but none of it of particularly interesting nature. Admittedly a random association, the Adagio had me think of freshly neutered dogs (and how little fun they must have).
Bartók / Shostakovich / Prokofiev, 44 Duos / Violin Duets / Sonata for 2 Violins, Zukerman/Perlman/Sanders
W. A. Mozart, J. M. Leclair, Violin Duos, Zukerman/Perlman
Throughout the concert (as for the last 30 years) Zukerman may have been playing second fiddle, but being (in) Perlman’s shadow as he was, his playing had a sharper outline than the image casting it. Not with the same big tone, his sound is clearer, leaner, more accurate. It hurts a little to hear someone – Perlman – known foremost for a dazzling technique to play at a lesser level than their reputation deserves; if he didn’t please broad audiences so much with what he does, perhaps he might like to take more time per recital and play them in smaller venues. That he can play phenomenally well, still, was proven (if ironically) in the Bartók and the encores, six duets for violin and piano by Shostakovich (“…everyone is doing Shostakovich, why should we… …be the exception”). Jewels that made the concert-going experience well worth it.