Itzhak Perlman delivers a ‘message’ from Beethoven
By Eileen Wingard
|SAN DIEGO–Two consecutive Sundays, I heard two great string players. The first, Violinist Itzhak Perlman, renowned, not only for his superb artistry, but for his humanity, performed January 24 at Copley Symphony Hall. The second, Violist David Aaron Carpenter, at the beginning of his concert career, presented a program at the Neuroscience Hall on January 31.
Perlman’s audience at Copley Symphony Hall was packed to the rafters with an additional twenty people on the stage, sitting behind him. Carpenter’s audience at the Neuroscience Hall in La Jolla, drew a more sparse assemblage.
One knew immediately, as Perlman launched into his program, beginning with a Mozart Sonata, that many listeners were not frequent concert-goers. The give away was that they clapped after each movement!
The Neuroscience audience, on the other hand, as La Jolla Music Society’s Christopher Beach noted, were among the most seasoned listeners, choosing to attend the Discovery Series, featuring new talent. There was no clapping between movements in the Neuroscience Hall.
Perlman, at Copley Symphony Hall, under the auspices of the San Diego Symphony Association, opened with a Mozart Sonata, the first two movements performed with elegance, the violinist’s singing tone caressing each phrase. The last movement took on virtuosic flair as the rapid passages virtually flew off his bow. His accompanist, the accomplished Rowan De Silva, a native of Sri Lanka, matched Perlman’s expressive fervor, never covering the violinist’s sound.
After retreating backstage for a few moments, Perlman re-emerged, turned to the audience and said, ”While I was backstage, I received an urgent phone call from Beethoven. He asked me to tell you that, as far as he was concerned, it was okay to clap between movements of the Mozart Sonata, but as for HIS sonata, he would appreciate silence between movements so as not to spoil the mood. Remember, I am just the messenger for Beethoven.”
The audience laughed, and Perlman continued. Although there was a smattering of applause after the first movement in the Beethoven—probably people in the balcony who did not hear Beethoven’s messenger, during the rest of the concert, there was no clapping between movements. Perlman cleverly used a teachable moment.
Perlman and De Silva offered a strong rendition of Beethoven’s Sonata #7, one of the composer’s most dramatic works. Rhythmic precision in their ensemble and Perlman’s glorious golden tone enhanced the expressive music
The second half of the program included Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne transcribed for violin and piano by Samuel Dushkin, and several encore-type pieces which the master violinist, in what has become his signature recital ending, chose at random. The recital concluded with a suave and sensuous rendition of de Falla’s “Spanish Dance,” transcribed by Fritz Kreisler.
David Carpenter’s program a week later, opened with works by two British composers, York Bowen and Rebecca Clarke. Clarke’s music was especially intriguing, exhibiting a style characteristic of the Jewish-inspired music of Ernest Bloch. Most of all, Carpenter’s deep, gorgeous sound, masterful technique and charming presence made a convincing case for this unfamiliar fare. He was accompanied by Pianist Julian Quintin, a native of France who now resides in Berlin.
After intermission, the tall, slender 23-year-old violist, looking like a young Pagannini, performed a viola transcription of Prokofief’s Romeo and Juliet Suite. Particularly remarkable was Carpenter’s extensive palette of sound colors and dynamics. His impressive rendition of Paganini’s “La Campenella” was followed by two encores, Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” and Heifetz’s transcription of Dinicu’s “Hora Staccato,” expertly performed with staccatos in one direction. Since hearing Pincus Zukerman on viola (one of Carpenter’s teachers), I have not encountered a more exciting violist than Carpenter.
After leaving San Diego, where he stayed in the home of his long-time family friend, Danny Dabby, Carpenter traveled to Paris to perform in a string quartet with violinist Gidon Kremer and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. David Aaron Carpenter is certainly an artist on the rise.
Wingard is a former San Diego Symphony violinist and a freelance writer