A sold-out house came to watch
The German word "innigkeit" means ardent feelings or intimacy, so it's the perfect noun for Perlman's performance.
He took a concerto that has traditionally been a bravura showpiece and made it something much more lyrical. Where most players revel in the rapid runs of the first movement, he spun threads of sound that gathered you in. He didn't linger sentimentally over the second movement, yet it was tender. The third movement was joyful, rather than sprightly.
It would be easy to say he played soulfully because he has spent more than half a century with this music. (Like The Beatles, he was introduced to America on "The Ed Sullivan Show" -- but six years earlier, in 1958.) Or that he empathized with the composer, a fellow Jew, because some Semitic strain in the piece spoke to him. Perlman loves klezmer tunes, and one bit in the third movement sounded like a burst of folk music.
For whatever reason, he played the concerto as I've never heard it before in live performance or nearly a dozen recordings. In so doing, he turned around a concert that had been trundling stodgily along.
It opened with the overture to
Perhaps that was the difference in Perlman's playing: He loves the Mendelssohn, and that made us love it, too. The orchestra fell under his spell, playing with extra delicacy and renewed zest as he cast a spell across the entire hall.
There was no encore. In this case, there didn't need to be.
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