Perlman and De Silva prove equal partners at Arsht Center

By Inesa Gegprifti

Itzhak Perlman and Rohan De Silva performed at the Arsht Center Thursday night.

Itzhak Perlman and Rohan De Silva performed at the Arsht Center Thursday night.

On an evening where the headliner was world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, his longtime pianist partner Rohan De Silva stood out for his astute and sensitive musicianship.

Thursday evening’s concert at the Adrienne Arsht Center was packed with an enthusiastic crowd. Perlman is recognized not only for his numerous awards and record of important concert venue appearances, but also for the sheer joy that emanates from his playing and his witty personality. Perlman and De Silva have been collaborating for many years, and their ease of communication and chemistry show in every phrase and gesture.

In a program of homages, the first half featured Alfred Schnittke’s Suite in the Old Style and Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata, Op. 47. Schnittke’s suite in five movements is a charming pastiche of the composer’s film music. Throughout, Schnittke loosely wears a Baroque mask portraying some of the archaic forms of the period with a fresh and individual tone.

Perlman and De Silva have the rare ability to seamlessly thread in and out of each other’s textures. They breathe and pace the musical phrases as one person. From the transparent “Pastorale,” “Minuetto” and “Pantomima” to the more contrapuntal “Fuga” and “Baletto,” the duo achieved impeccable balance and clarity of articulation.

Beethoven’s fiery persona has left a mark also in the history of his Violin Sonata No. 9. Originally dedicated to (and premiered by) violinist George Bridgetower, Beethoven later angrily changed the published dedication to the prominent French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer, as the composer was displeased with Bridgetower’s commentary on the morals of a woman that Beethoven esteemed. As it turned out, Kreutzer never performed the sonata dedicated to him.

Beethoven’s impetuous nature prevails throughout the composition as well. The violin’s opening statement is a sprawling phrase, which is picked up by the piano and together they create a choral-like introduction. Beethoven’s mercurial character soon takes charge and virtuosic passages on both instruments perpetually carry the music forward.

Perlman’s warm tone and generous vibrato shone in the more introspective moments. De Silva’s clever choices in voicing brought out just the right amount of overlaying sonority created by the quick figurations.

The Andante con variazioni was played most fluently. Pearly trills in the piano resonated beautifully and offered a tender fabric upon which Perlman could overlay the playful and lyrical gestures of the variations. A movement that showcased the virtuosic chops of both musicians, the galloping tarantella ended the first half with outstanding energy.

Antonin Dvořák’s Sonatina in G Major is characterized by use of pentatonic tunes and syncopated rhythms. The composer thought of these aspects as fascinating parts of African-American spirituals and the music of Native Americans. The four short movements are concise and each paint the picture of distinct characters.

The Allegro risoluto is reminiscent of Dvořák’s symphonic writing as the dialogue between piano and violin seems to always seek a variety in timbre, which Perlman and De Silva managed to bring out successfully. The Larghetto, nicknamed “Indian Lament,” incited a deep sense of nostalgia, contrasted by the frothy Scherzo and the driven Finale, which plunged towards its last statement with conviction.

In typical Perlman fashion, the violinist announced three additional works from the stage: Fritz Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro (in the style of Gaetano Pugnani), John Williams’ Theme from Schindler’s List, and Johannes Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 1 (arranged by Joseph Joachim). The two outer pieces were played with flair and bravura, while the popular Williams theme soared through the hall with heartfelt yet stoic expression.

Posted in Performances

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Fri Mar 8, 2019
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