In yet another imaginative Washington Performing Arts Society presentation, Itzhak Perlman appeared Saturday afternoon in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in a refreshing program of violin confections featured in concerts a century ago. He played the Bruch G Minor Concerto as it was usually played then, with the orchestral score reduced for piano accompaniment.
Perlman described the difference as one between a prime rib dinner and a roast beef sandwich; in the doing, though, Perlman's wrappings--the glowingly elegant tone, the dazzling technique subordinated to Bruch's lyric impulses--more than adequately covered the absence of orchestral color. Pianist Rohan De Silva accompanied with professional accuracy but little creative spark.
Handel's Sonata in D, Op. 1, No. 13, responded surprisingly well to Perlman's romantic urgings, particularly the vocal Larghetto.
What remained were an assortment of brief, mostly familiar pieces heard these days as encores. Bazzini's "Dance of the Goblins," its banal tune interspersed with zinging pizzicatos and taken at a madcap tempo, sounded properly deranged, a lunatic duet of hammered dulcimer and vehemently insistent fiddle. Works by Brahms, Dvorak, Sarasate and Fritz Kreisler were casually, fragrantly and idiomatically tossed off.
Occasionally Perlman cruised too comfortably on his fabulous technique--these were settled interpretations--and at times even the technique faltered, most noticeably in dropped notes during the most sizzling passages of the Bazzini.