But the sad part of all this is that Perlman, on the evidence of his first "birthday" concert, didn't appear to be having much fun. This was an all-Beethoven programme - the two charming Romances for violin and orchestra, preceded by a stirring account of "Coriolan" followed by the D major concerto. It's somehow reassuring that even an artist as great as Itzhak Perlman can have an off-night. Not that the capacity audience seemed to notice, or to want to notice, but at those prices, who would? Perlman's visible "phew" at the end of the Beethoven concerto seemed to sum it up.
Appropriately, perhaps, for an event fabricated by a sports promoter, it was all rather like watching one of those Wimbledon finals when the ball always seems to misbehave - bouncing oddly, clipping the net, falling on the wrong side of the line. Time and time again, it was so clear that Perlman was trying to catch the elusive muse - a change of fingering and string to "point" a phrase, only to land with shaky intonation and a squeaky string. And, each time, Perlman seemed to retreat into touch.
His sound is enormous, and Lawrence Foster's balance between soloist and orchestra had the soloist winning hand down. But the sound is so uniform, so glassy, so predictable. Where were the gradations of colour, varieties of articulation, moments of revelation? What, in fact, was the hurry?
Only in the slow movement of the Beethoven concerto were there moments of real "correctness" where Perlman finally succeeded in bringing into focus both his sound and his vision. Foster, as accompanist, was sensitive if a bit nervy, while the Philharmonia's wind, particularly the warbling bassoons, the hushed strings and the springy trumpets, should have provided as secure a base as any great soloist might need. But this was an uncomfortable night.
n 13, 15 & 17 June at RFH (0171-928 8800)Reuse content