The Babe Ruth of Classical Music
Itzhak Perlman, guest violinist with the MSO, wows the audience with precision, poise and pizzaz.
Generally speaking, Americans have a somewhat difficult time bringing to mind any household names in the classical music world. Most people will know Caruso, Bernstein, Callas, Pavarotti, Yo-Yo Ma and of course, Itzhak Perlman. These are the Ruth, Lombardi, DiMaggio, and Jordan of Carnegie Hall and beyond. So when an iconic figure such as Perlman visits your hometown symphony orchestra, a buzz of excitement catches hold. Milwaukee showed up, and Uihlein Hall was packed cheek to jowl with music lovers who came to hear and see a master at play.
Cheers and wild applause both greeted and followed out this man for whom walking is a struggle but virtuosity is a breeze. Perlman performed the ever-popular Concerto in E minor for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 64 by Felix Mendelssohn, and it was clear to everyone in the audience that his mastery of the violin is still present and accounted for. Perlman plays with a relaxed confidence that forecasts a piece-of-cake equanimity no matter how many notes per square inch are required from him in any given passage. He produces a sweet, shimmering sound that grabs listeners by the ears and draws them into a hypnotic spell. His sausage-shaped fingers fly across the violin with precision and poise, and his bow goes from a bouncing spiccato to a tender flautando without a care. “It’s all good,” he seems to be saying. “I’ve got this.” Perlman can do anything.
Itzhak Perlman turns 70 later this year—happy birthday in advance and many happy returns, maestro.
The concert opened with Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 73 by Johannes Brahms. This composition is on the meat-and-potatoes side of the menu for the MSO, and although it lacked some of the flavor of past performances, the orchestra can be relied upon to deliver this great symphony with warmth and power. Hornist Matthew Annin sounded beautiful in the first movement, and the powerhouse cello section sang their collective hearts out.
There are myriad reasons for having a strong, vital Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The ability to bring Mr. Perlman and other such performers to the MSO stage is just one reason, but really, such a good one. A strong MSO has the muscle to bring in great artists, educate and entertain its community, and provide comfort to many. This Classics Special from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra was a wonderful gift to the community.