The performances heard on this recording by the superstar duo of violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Martha Argerich do not exactly form a discrete group: the first work, Schumann's Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105, was recorded live in 1998, while the rest consists of 2016 studio recordings. The 1998 performance, however, was part of a concert in Saratoga Springs, New York, that provided the stimulus for the joint recording. The Schumann sonata performance was not released at that time, and the rest of the program expands on the music it presents. It's nice to have the Schumann, which has a good deal of tension and energy. As for the rest, it's hard to point to a clear decline in the skills of either of the septuagenarian performers.
In the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Itzhak Perlman has been acclaimed as being among the leading violinists before the public, and, without doubt, has been the most visible of them in media venues, from recordings and radio broadcasts to television and film appearances. No other concert violinist and few other serious musicians have achieved the widespread exposure and popularity attained by Perlman.
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.