Occasionally a musician come along who is unique, whose art is such a personal thing that it stands out, even among the other stars. Fischer-Dieskau is such a singer, Myra Hess was such a pianist, the Beaux Arts Trio is such a chamber group, and Itzhak Perlman is such a violinist.
In his recital yesterday at the Kennedy Center, Perlman seemed to collaborate with each composer in the exposition of the music rather than acting as a go-between in the communication process. The music seemed to emerge straight from his imagination.
This was the most evident in the performance of the Bach unaccompanied E-Major Partita, for here Perlman was entirely on his own. The first impression of the opening Preludio was of rhythmic integrity. There were none of those Couperinesque hesitations or other, earlier baroque affectations that can interrupt the inevitable flow of the music. It was an affirmation of joyous energy. A calm and musing introspection made the second movement a delight, and the Gavotte was marked by a jaunty alacrity. Every movement seemed exactly right and, although we all know better, for the moment it seemed that this was the only way it could be played. This is what true art is all about.
The opening Brahms D-Minor Sonata got a gentle but brilliant reading. Pianist Samuel Sanders found a quieter-than-usual level for his end of the collaboration that balanced Perlman's ideally. The Debussy G-Minor Sonata had the sort of French sonority that singers often find but that instrumentalists rarely do.
The concert ended with a gleeful Sarate group on which Perlman lavished all the tricky acrobatics of his rarefied trade.