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Perlman and Zukerman: Double the Pleasure

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Two of the world's most celebrated violinists gave a Kennedy Center Concert Hall audience all it came for and more on Monday. Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman have a way of drawing even a full house into the music as if they were playing in your living room. The performance was one of those transcendent moments.

Works by Bach, Bartok and Mozart were followed by two rarely heard pieces by a Frenchman, Jean-Marie Leclair, and a Polish German, Moritz Moszkowski. Along with pianist Rohan De Silva, Perlman and Zukerman opened with Bach's Sonata, BWV 1037, spinning out its long, winding melodies with compelling, arching beauty. Driven by Bach's characteristic underlying pulse, the Gigue was as playful as it was invested with passion.

Introduced by Perlman's signature wit, the musicians added seven duos of Bartok to the program, each delivered with that elemental energy and sense of the faraway pervading many of the Hungarian composer's works. In a glistening version of Mozart's unaccompanied Duo, K. 423, Zukerman switched to the viola, its rich, rounded ambiance and lower range securing the music's harmonic focus. Also unaccompanied, Leclair's Sonata, Op. 3, No. 4, is a fusion of Italianate melodiousness and French rhythmic froth, both qualities intensified by a performance of finely honed stylistic sensitivity. The finale of Moszkowski's Suite, Op. 71, combined racing bravura and a rhapsodic intent fortified by the piano. As encores, four pieces by Dmitri Shostakovich capped the evening.

-- Cecelia Porter

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