Itzhak Perlman/Bruno Canino, Royal Festival Hall, London

Is it the size of the fee or the size of the audience that determines a 3,000-seat concert hall as appropriate for a violin recital? Itzhak Perlman is not a frequent recital soloist on these shores, so a large crowd piled into the Royal Festival Hall to witness an artist described in the programme as "undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin". Sure, he has got the fingers - he always did have - but virtuosity alone leaves much to desire.

Early Beethoven - his first "real" violin sonata (Op 12, No 1) - calls for little virtuosity, but it does call for heaps of musicianship if it is to be raised from the ordinary. But, somehow, Perlman remained so disengaged. Perhaps it was the enormous, bleakly empty platform with not a bowl of flowers or a pot-plant in sight that depressed his spirits.

Perlman is obliged to sit, consequently requiring greater energy to communicate to an audience than might otherwise be the case. But hugging his music stand and being out of eye contact with both us and his pianist was not encouraging. There can be few more elegant and sensitive accompanists than Bruno Canino, but his anxious glances toward Perlman went unmet - surely a danger in chamber-music-playing.

In this slight Beethoven, the ear was constantly drawn to the springy playing of Canino, who gave much character and expression to this Mozartian piece. Even in the delightful final rondo, buoyant with cross-rhythms, Perlman never rose to Canino's skipping.

César Franck's great A major Sonata followed. It had been curious in the Beethoven that Canino was playing the piano open on half-stick, but it became incredible that for the Franck, such a romantic piece, the stick remained firmly in the same place.

Canino, unsurprisingly, never swamped Perlman, but both were underpowered. Where was the passion of the second-movement Allegro? Why, in this huge hall, was it all so reined in? Has Perlman's sound become something of infinite sweetness but no strength? Is it that he's become bored with the repetitive demands of the world's great concert halls and his slavishly adoring public that laps up whatever is on offer? Is it that he now fails to rise to the occasion because he knows that his public will accept everything he does?

After the interval, one work only was scheduled: Debussy's quixotic Sonata for Violin and Piano. Quite legitimately, this work can be regarded as a miniature, and tone colour, rather than dynamic range, appeared to be Perlman's approach. But perhaps he was saving himself up for the "additional works will be announced from the platform" section. And here's where the circus really began.

The page-turner appeared laden with music. "These are props: we only know one piece," Perlman proclaimed, proceeding to rifle through pages of print. "This one's marked 'very difficult', so we won't play it." But tearaway performances of half a dozen bonnes bouches brought the house down. Perhaps size doesn't matter.

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam