To most, the names of the composers on this disc will be unfamiliar, but students of the violin will either smile or shudder in recognition. These men were violin pedagogues: some, such as Giovanni Battista Viotti and Charles August de Bériot, were historically important theorizers on the art of fiddle playing, but all of them wrote didactic concerti for the advanced beginner or intermediate student, little pieces that have been sawed away at by grade school age prodigies for a century and a half.
Originally recorded in 1981, digitally remastered in 1988, and reissued here in 2010, Perlman's recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with Carlo Maria Giulini and the Philharmonia Orchestra needs little introduction for collectors. For listeners seeking their first recording of this seminal work, Perlman and Giulini offer one of the most solid, reliable readings of the concerto available.
Perlman's Elgar has always caused consternation among English critics, largely because it's so much better played from a purely technical point of view than any performance by an English violinist. With its relatively swift tempos, the performance is sometimes judged to be lacking in repose and "inwardness," whatever that is. All of this is complete nonsense. Perlman's playing of this extremely long and difficult concerto places it squarely in the grand Romantic tradition, which is precisely where it belongs.
Wieniawski's scintillating works are played with brilliance and great musical charm here by Perlman and Sanders (piano) for the duets, and Ozawa conducting the LPO for the concertos. It is somtimes said that Perlman's playing has often been recorded too "forward", so one can hear the "between the notes" bowing sounds when he plays.
In 2004, EMI released The Perlman Edition, a limited-edition 15-CD box set featuring many of his finest EMI recordings as well as newly compiled material and RCA Red Seal released a CD titled Perlman reDISCOVERED which includes material recorded in 1965 by a young Itzhak Perlman.
At concert halls around the world, Itzhak Perlman has enchanted audiences with the dazzling and delicious encore pieces that top off his recitals. These two albums offer a lavish selection of his favourite miniatures.
If these performances of Beethoven's earlier Piano Trios by Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Lynn Harrell are suave and sophisticated with a soupçon of sentimentality, well, that's what modern performance practice was like in the '80s. And if that sounds like an appealing manner in which to perform Beethoven's earlier Piano Trios, this is the recording to hear. Perlman, Ashkenazy, and Harrell lean into Beethoven's music, singing everything grandly, sounding everything gloriously, and souping everything up completely. One might argue that Beethoven's Piano Trios, Op. 1, are too Viennese High Classical to respond well to their approach, that the works seem more maimed and mauled then persuasively performed, but one cannot deny that Perlman, Ashkenazy, and Harrell put every iota of their expressivity and virtuosity into their overpowering performances. EMI's early digital sound has been pleasantly remastered for this CD reissue.