Los Angeles Music Preview: ITZHAK PERLMAN, VIOLIN/CONDUCTOR (LA Phil at Disney Hall)

Post image for Los Angeles Music Preview: ITZHAK PERLMAN, VIOLIN/CONDUCTOR (LA Phil at Disney Hall)

by Tony Frankel on October 31, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles


Surely it’s no mere coincidence: On a recent road trip, I played over and over the 1979 recording of Itzhak Perlman playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. I own several recordings of the piece, but this is my favorite. The Israeli-born violinist not only brings his usual cordiality and technique to the work, but yields an interpretation which is ferocious and demonstrative yet done with breathtaking command. Astounded that I had yet to see him live, I returned home only to discover that the man who overcame insurmountable odds as a youngster (he contracted polio at age four) would be returning to Walt Disney Concert Hall in the dual role of conductor/violinist for three performances this weekend. Where do you think I will be at the first performance Friday morning at 11:00?

Itzhak_PerlmanCoincidence number 2: With hundreds of different recordings of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (1723) to choose from, the one I own is Perlman’s 1976 recording with the London Philharmonic, and he will be performing two concertos from Vivaldi’s best-known work in a program of favorites which also includes Weber’s Overture to his opera Oberon (1826) and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique (1829-30).

With fall upon us, Perlman is offering “Summer” and “Winter.” Each of these concertos, along with “Spring” and “Autumn,” contain three movements, and while they certainly conjure up pastoral images, the music actually represents specific scenes to Vivaldi (the original manuscript has actual sonnets on the page, possibly written by the Italian Baroque composer himself). “Summer” presents the “merciless summer sun” and sweltering “man and flock” but also depicts an ornamented cuckoo, buzzing insects, the turtledove and goldfinch, gentle breezes and a violent storm. “Winter” portrays chattering teeth and “running and stamping your feet every moment” to keep warm in snow and biting wind. Picture a cozy fireside scene during the largo “while the rain drenches everyone outside” (the pizzicato raindrops will arrive courtesy of Perlman).

Itzhak PerlmanThird and final coincidence: Since childhood, I have listened to Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique, yet I recently commented to a friend that this is one piece which demands to be heard live. Perlman will conduct this groundbreaking work in Romantic music, which the technically innovative French composer wrote for an augmented orchestra (some scholars maintain that the modern orchestra was effectively created by Berlioz). Watching the phenomenal LA Philharmonic in Disney Hall always highlights any work, but in this case, a story is told. Berlioz, being smitten with an actress, wrote this symphony with her in mind, even as his missives to her went unanswered. Also known as “Episode in the Life of an Artist,” the symphony tells of an artist who falls in love with a beautiful young woman and tries to attract her attention. She is represented by the idée fixe, fixed idea or leitmotiv, another Berlioz invention, which recurs in different forms throughout the movements (having five rather than four movements was also new).

At the age of three, Perlman taught himself using a toy instrument before studying with pedagogical royalty in Tel Aviv and New York. Sixty-five years later, Perlman enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, he is treasured by audiences throughout the world, who respond not only to his remarkable artistry, but also his irrepressible joy in making music.

LA PHIL Disney Hall 10th Logo

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Itzhak Perlman, Violin/Conductor
Vivaldi / “Summer” & “Winter” from the Four Seasons
Weber / Overture to Oberon
Berlioz / Symphonie fantastique
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Avenue
Friday, November 1, 2013, at 11 AM
Saturday, November 2, 2013, at 8 PM
Sunday, November 3, 2013, at 2 PM
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit http://www.LAPhil.com

Upbeat Live pre-concert events takes place in Walt Disney Concert Hall’s BP Hall one hour before the Saturday and Sunday concerts, and on stage an hour and 15 minutes prior to the Friday concert, and are free to all ticket holders. Thomas Neenan, Lecturer in Music History and Music Theory at the California Institute of Technology and Director of Music at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Pacific Palisades, hosts.

Leave a Comment