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Itzhak Perlman’s students earn the spotlight at the Terrace Theater

Given violinist Itzhak Perlman’s busy schedule of solo and conducting engagements, it’s become something of a rarity to hear him in a chamber recital like the one presented on Thursday at the Terrace Theater. Making the event even more welcome was the participation of 11 students — aged 18 through 24 — from the Perlman Music Program. This training project for young musicians, started in 1993 by Perlman’s wife, Toby, brings gifted players at the start of their professional careers together with Perlman and other seasoned musicians for master classes, intensive workshops and performances.

If there were concerns that Perlman’s young charges would be overshadowed by his daunting technique, they were quickly dispelled in Mozart’s E-flat Divertimento, K. 563, where his playing was democratic to a fault. His sound was recognizably sweet, his phrasing virtuosic yet relaxed, but he avoided grandstanding — in the Mozart and even in Brahms’s String Quintet in G, Op. 111, where the top violin line is treated in a more overtly soloistic manner.

That’s not to say his influence on his youthful colleagues wasn’t felt: Their playing in both works was warm, supple and mature beyond their years, with the Mozart sounding no less romantic and vibrato-rich than the Brahms.

A taut reading of Osvaldo Golijov’s nonet for strings, “Last Round” (performed without Perlman), proved an arresting showcase for the discipline and sheer kinetic energy these musicians bring to their playing. They tapped into the heat, roiling power and sultry lyricism in Golijov’s writing as if they’d been performing the piece for years.

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