The cover star of The Strad’s August 2015 edition is turning 70. Julian Haylock rounds up some of the master violinist’s finest recordings
Franck Violin Sonata; Brahms Horn Trio
Itzhak Perlman (violin) Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano) Barry Tuckwell (French horn)
Decca 475 8246
A classic coupling whose seamless amalgam of virtuoso flair and expressive warmth still finds all comers wanting after nearly half-a-century. Perlman’s tonal refulgence and Ashkenazy’s peerless command prove a match made in heaven, especially in the Brahms in which the million-dollar horn trio set the sparks flying.
Itzhak Perlman (violin) Samuel Sanders (piano)
Warner Classics 350 8792 (two discs)
At a time when attractive miniatures in the Romantic virtuoso tradition had been effectively side-lined by the latest avant-garde sensations, Perlman and Samuel Sanders emerged triumphant with an unprecedented series of encore albums that combined the technical wizardry of Heifetz with Kreisler’s charismatic opulence.
Mozart Sinfonia concertante; Concertone
Itzhak Perlman (violin) Pinchas Zukerman (viola/violin) Israel PO/Zubin Mehta
Deutsche Grammophon 476 1651
On paper it is difficult to imagine a casting much more inauthentic in Mozart than the above line-up, yet unshackled by concerns of historical appropriateness and fired up by the Sinfonia concertante’s powerful emotional narrative (in particular), the sense of occasional generated by these live recordings proves irresistible in practice.
Goldmark Violin Concerto; Sinding Suite; Korngold Violin Concerto
Itzhak Perlman (violin) Pittsburgh SO/André Previn
Warner Classics 509 6762
Perlman enters hallowed Milstein and Heifetz territory with a winning combination of swaggering bravado and irresistible charm that if anything surpasses his legendary predecessors. Few of his recordings demonstrate so captivatingly his ability to take music of the perceived lower divisions and make it sound utterly cherishable.
Bruch Violin Concertos nos.1 & 2; Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor
Itzhak Perlman (violin) LSO/André Previn; NPO/Jesús López-Cobos
Warner Classics 433 2922
Combining a Stern-like emotional imperativeness with an ease and naturalness reminiscent of Michael Rabin (another Galamian protégé), Perlman plays the two warhorses with striking freshness and spontaneity and in the neglected Bruch Second Concerto phrases with a musical incandescence rarely captured on disc.
Read a special interview with the great virtuoso in celebration of his 70th birthday in The Strad’s August 2015 issue, out now.
Photo: Lisa Marie Mazzucco / Sony Music