Perlman opens Boca Festival with Beethoven amid usual audience rudeness

By Alan Becker


The Boca Festival of the Arts opened its third season at Mizner Park’s Count de Hoernle Amphitheater on Saturday with an impressive lineup of artists: pianist Mikhail Pletnev wearing his conducting hat with the Russian National Symphony, and Itzhak Perlman performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

The all-Beethoven concert opened with the composer’s Second Symphony in a performance that emphasized lucidity and light textures. Tempos werereasonably steady, although the trio section of the Scherzo was slowed down markedly. The Larghetto was beautifully played with some stunningly refined string execution, and the woodwinds were always clear, clean, and well blended within the orchestral fabric.

The Coriolan Overture dates from 1802 and has become one of the composer’s mostfrequently performed curtain-raisers. It was not inspired by Shakespeare’s drama, but for a little known play by Heinrich Joseph von Collin. In Pletnev’s hands, once past the three loud unison C’s, the piece took wing most effectively, and with a considerable amount of Classical restraint.

Perlman’s arrival caused the audience to stand and applaud with rapt enthusiasm before a note had been sounded. Fortunately, the popular musician delivered the goods as soloist in Beethoven’s concerto, which was presented with both freshness and melting lyricism, as if this artist were presenting it for the first time.

Given the out-of-doors venue, the music was discreetly and tastefully amplified. Strangely the four timpani strokes that open the concerto were not audible from about the middle of the seating area. Perlman’s violin was heard very clearly, however, never outbalancing the ensemble.

Less complimentary was an inattentive audience that continually shuffled and moved about, arriving late, and applauding after every movement of both the symphony and concerto. This was not simply an isolated  case of a few errant hands going astray, but one of long sustained applause by many, sometimes covering up the first measures of the next movement.

Posted in Performances

One Response to “Perlman opens Boca Festival with Beethoven amid usual audience rudeness”

  1. Posted Mar 08, 2009 at 10:03 pm by jnrosenthal

    Yes, the audience was a bit much,and seating latecomers between the third and fourth movements of the opening symphony was an unwelcome novelty and perhaps putting the orchestra on risers might have avoided the need for the amplification(though we were in row M and heard the opening tympani notes clearly)but what the reviewer only hints at(but gets right, in my view) was that Perlman delivered a transformative performance.Those who could appreciate it were treated to a performance by an artist at the peak of his interpretive and technical skill, totally immersed in a concerto he owns,playing for himself, without frill or bombast.It is hard to imagine that this concerto could be more beautifully or maturely performed(and credit to the orchestra here as well). As one audience member we overheard -evidently hearing Perlman for the first time – remarked upon exiting “Joshua Bell has nothing on this guy”… Amen!

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Sun Mar 8, 2009
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