Monday, November 13, 2006

Itzhak Perlman Live!

Last Thursday evening we went to see Itzhak Perlman with the Winston-Salem symphony play Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major at the Stevens Center.

What a marvelous evening! The orchestra played the best I've heard them in the two seasons we've been going. Having a soloist of the brilliance of Perlman's perform with your orchestra must be like having Agassi as your doubles partner, or Eric Clapton front your garage band. People of this calibre raise the level of achievement of all those around them. Not that our local symphony is the local garage band. Those folk can really play without the inspiration of playing with Perlman. Ms BRB and I have concluded that the First Chair violin, oboe, bassoon, horn could play for any named orchestra. There are probably others.

This is why I could never be a music critic. You don't really need to read the whole review. The first three paragraphs should be enough. Is this good writing, or does this guy need an editor? "And what can we say about the music's key of D Major? It was around but seemed unable to tame the music's striking harmonic ambiguities." (ambiguities can be striking? If not an editor, get him a dictionary.) Pluh-eese. Are we to anthropomorphize music as wine critics do to their little liquids? Yes, the musicians bring life to the notes; let's just leave it at that.

Back to the evening: Perlman was a treat to watch and hear. When he was not playing he was still totally engrossed in the sounds coming from the orchestra. Just before his part started he would tuck the violin under his chin and then drop his hands to his lap. It looked like someone had flung the instrument from the wings and he caught it with his chin and shoulder just before it lodged in his neck. (It doesn't take much to amuse me.) There were four curtain calls. He went back to center stage to acknowledge each one. If you have seen Perlman, you know how difficult that must be. After the third call, and as we were clamoring for a fourth, a towel flew out from the wings. He came back to center stage anyway.

Just a few more observations. The Executive Director came out at the beginning and announced that in addition to thanking the sponsors (some bankers that handle really, really rich folk, and charge accordingly) that the orchestra was volunteering their services for the evening so that we could have Itzhak Perlman. That caused me to wonder why the balcony seats were $60 a pop. We normally pay $20 for the Sunday matinee concerts. That's thirty thousand for the balcony box office alone. I shudder to think what the orchestra seats grossed. The evening was still the best concert we have attended. However, if it was a fund-raiser, I would have appreciated a heads-up, and a receipt. Does Perlman command that much? He earns all he can get, but please don't stiff the orchestra. Where are you sponsors?

I loved the concert. I would pay that price anytime to have that experience. But, again, the workers got stiffed. I realized that they "volunteered." I am just an old union worker who has experienced again and again workers taking a hit for the greater good while the investors sacrifice nothing. Did Ms Executive Director also forgo some salary? I'll shut up about that now.

I loved the concert. Again, have your music live as often as you can. Performers rise to live audiences as they never can to studios and sound boards. I would rather have had that night with Perlman and our "garage band" live in person than the same music recorded by The New York Philharmonic and played on the best sound system money can buy. Live is live, and the rest is just bits in the stream.

BRB is Write (and likes dead composers live.)


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