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.
Classical violinist Itzhak Perlman is not a jazz improviser, so this meeting with the Oscar Peterson Quartet is more a loving tribute to the melodies (ten veteran standards plus two Peterson originals) than a strong jazz date. While Perlman sticks closely to the themes, one's attention focuses much more on Peterson, who had suffered a serious stroke a few years earlier and had been inactive ever since. Peterson sounds healthy in his supportive role, and although it is doubtful if he sweat much during this relaxed music, his apparent comeback is great news. Guitarist Herb Ellis has the most rewarding solos, although his spots are short.
Because he's long been stereotyped by the rousing neo-romantic adventure scores for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park franchises, it's easy to forget that composer John Williams is hardly idiomatically challenged. When Steven Spielberg gratifyingly used the clout of his enormous commercial success to produce and direct this brave Holocaust drama, his longtime musical collaborator used the opportunity to display both the depth and maturity of his musical gifts and training, producing a score with sad, evocative melodies frequently carried by the violin of the great Itzhak Perlman. Rich with ethnic nuance and showcasing the composer's masterful orchestral/choral subtlety, Williams's emotionally compelling score for Schindler's List also won the Academy Award for Best Dramatic Score.