Monday, May 01, 2006

Itzhak and the edifice complex

Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to hear Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and pianist Rohan de Silva in a recital of violin duets at the Jackie Gleason Theater, shown here. My good fortune was thanks to my friend Hillary, a violist who is a counselor at Perlman's summer music camp for young string players.

Though I'd heard Pinchas Zukerman play before, I was pretty excited to hear Perlman live for the first time, and prepared to be astonished by both. They didn't disappoint, beginning with a warmly expressive reading of a Bach Sonata for two violins. Next came a set of Bartok Duos which Itzhak announced from the stage, lightening the mood with a few jokes at his own expense - he proclaimed the "Limping Song" his personal favorite. The first half ended with the Mozart Duo for Violin and Viola no. 1. Program note writers love to tell how Mozart wrote the two Violin/Viola Duos to help out Michael Haydn, Joseph's younger brother, who was ill and under financial pressure to complete a commission for a set of six duos. If the story is true, it proves Mozart an admirably generous and humble person; though his two duos are so sublime, they seem to have overwhelmed Haydn's own four pieces, which hardly get played at all. I wonder if Haydn wished his savior might have been a little less talented!

The second half was devoted to sonatas two lesser-known composers, Jean Marie Leclair and Moritz Moszkowski, representing the French late baroque and high romanticism. Both pieces were given brilliant, virtuosic performances, making me wonder why I'd never heard them before. The encores were equally virtuosic - the Handel-Halvorsen variations for violin and viola, then a Shostakovich polka.

Even before the performance began someone announced that this was "the concert of the year", and it definitely left me searching for some more original superlatives. It seems it was also a bit of a farewell show, since the Concert Association of Florida will no longer be using the Jackie Gleason Theater as one of its main venues - next season it will use the new Miami Performing Arts Center. This left me wondering what will become of the Gleason, and whether we've created a glut of concert halls. Last week the Gleason was occupied for several days by a hair salon show, the "Aveda Beauty Expo", and these sorts of things seem to pass through pretty frequently. Still, it does seem a shame to let a big concert hall with decent acoustics feature recorded music or even go dark for much of the year.

Somehow the South Florida performing arts community seems to have a predicament opposite to that of our baseball team: lots of support for new buildings, but not always enough for the arts organizations themselves - at least in cases like the collapsed Florida Philharmonic. On this evening at least, we got to witness why a big performing arts center is built, to showcase brilliant performers before a large, rapt audience. Now that we have plenty of edifices though, I hope we won't take such performances for granted.

The same program was performed last week at Avery Fisher Hall and reviewed in the Times.Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

mkh said...

Thank you for the review. Also, your comment about our wealth of concert spaces is interesting. I wonder to what extent the arts (management) community suffers from the same issues as professional sports: they want bigger, prettier, newer spaces not for the improved concert-going experience, but to provide more expensive seating and thereby increased revenues.