What defines a world-class artist? Itzhak Perlman’s virtuosity on the violin aside, what makes him truly great? The maestro defined it for us last week on his most recent visit to OC, turning his Philharmonic Society concert into an impromptu fan appreciation day. Recognizing the extraordinary effort patrons made to attend despite torrential rains, Perlman treated his audiences to not one, not two but three encores, pushing the concert well beyond the two-hour mark. Dinner can wait, he decided, intent on giving the crowd more than their money’s worth.

The encores, chosen on the spot, were but the proverbial icing on a very rich cake. As if he’d read my review of his last OC performance, Perlman eschewed the “greatest hits” approach he’s taken in the past and chose a more obscure repertoire: Vivaldi’s Sonata in A major for Violin and Concerto, Op. 2; Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 5 in F major, Op. 24 (better known as the “Spring” Sonata); Schumann’s Fantasiestucke, Op. 73; and Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne for Violin and Piano.

Time seemed to stop at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall as Perlman played for what seemed the pure love of music. Rohan de Silva, who has toured with him worldwide of late, accompanied him expertly on the piano; content to sit in his partner’s shadow, he quietly enhanced the performance without once calling attention to himself. For those who missed it—and those who wouldn’t think of it—Perlman will return to SCFTA Jan. 14, 2018 to lead and conduct the L.A. Philharmonic, and perform Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor.

Meanwhile on the near horizon, the Philharmonic Society of OC will present the St. Lawrence String Quartet in celebration of composer John Adams’ 70th birthday (Feb. 5 at Irvine Barclay Theatre); the taiko-drumming troupe Kodo (Feb. 8 at SCFTA; the Laguna Beach Music Festival featuring cellist Johannes Moser and the Calder Quartet (Feb. 10-12 at Laguna Playhouse); Yuja Wang and Leonidas Kavakos (Feb. 12 at SCFTA); the Mandelring Quartet (Mar. 3 at Irvine Barclay); the High School Orchestra Festival (Mar. 11 at SCFTA); and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic led by the dynamic Yuri Temirkanov (Mar. 15 at SCFTA).


Author: Jordan R. Young

Jordan R. Young is a journalist, show business historian, playwright and theatre critic. His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Magazine, Westways, AAA Tour Books, and The People’s Almanac.