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Itzhak Perlman and Rohan de Silva Light Up Royce Hall
Celebrated violinist Itzhak Perlman is known for giving himself completely over to the music. In an appearance at UCLA's Royce Hall last night, he not only lived up to that reputation, but proved as well that he's a master of the difficult art of both playing with both honesty and reserve. His performance was never overly aggressive or sentimental, but rather in perfect, restrained sync with the tenor of the music. The program seemed designed to track the course of human emotional growth, beginning with Schubert's innocent and playful Rondo Brilliant. Perlman, along with renowned accompanist Rohan de Silva, deftly brought the piece from its briefly aggressive start through a gentle, spirited, and at times almost wide-eyed and romantic resolution.
The Rondo was followed by Brahms' Sonata No. 2, a soulful and tumultuous three-movement opus into which Perlman injected brief moments of reserved hopefulness, and infused with an intense honesty. Bring the youthfulness of the first piece and the conflict of the second to a head, the initial half of the program concluded with an impassioned rendition of Brahms' darkly festive Hungarian Dances Nos. 9, 2 and 1.
Following an intermission, Perlman and de Silva returned to the stage for a triumphant performance of Prokofiev's Sonata No. 2 in D. Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 94. The four-movement piece is complicated and difficult, and towards the climactic end Perlman allowed himself moments of emotional indulgence, as a seasoned marathon runner might break into brief, joyful sprints in the final mile, and concluded to a standing ovation.
After several minutes of applause, Perlman and de Silva delighted the sold out house by returning to the stage. Perlman joked with the audience as he combed through his repertoire.
"I carry a printout of all the encores I've played...since 1940 [ed. note: Perlman was born in 1945] so those of you who were there then and are here now don't have to hear the same piece twice."
Ultimately, he decided that such meticulous care need not necessarily be taken. "Maybe you should" hear the same piece twice, he joked. "You can tell me if it sounds better now or then."
Besides, he added, "If I can't remember, you probably can't either."
The duo went on to perform not one, not two but four encore pieces, including one by Christoph Willibald Gluck, and another by Fritz Kreisler.