Times Staff Writer

No on-stage clown, no offstage food-fighter, no talk-show denizen, no budding conductor--Elmar Oliveira is not your garden-variety violin virtuoso of the 1980s. No, Oliveira simply plays the violin like a master--with brilliance, technical resourcefulness, personal involvement and unfeigned charisma. He may be the Ivry Gitlis of his generation.

The 34-year-old American musician, a regular visitor here since the year of his Tchaikovsky Competition gold medal (1978), played his first local recital Sunday night at Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena. And re-established his superiority as musician and virtuoso.

In a long, demanding, soul-satisfying and revelatory program devoted to sonatas by Beethoven, Respighi and Prokofiev and a suite by Dvorak, Oliveira and his pianistic partner, Robert McDonald, swept all before them.

They brought authority, finesse, wit and an immaculate profile to Beethoven’s E-flat Sonata, Opus 12; grandeur, emotional intensity and irrepressible moxie to Respighi’s long-neglected B-minor Sonata; artful simplicity to Dvorak’s Romantic Pieces, Opus 75, unself-conscious lyricism, mordant subtext and genuine spontaneity to Prokofiev’s D-major Sonata, Opus 94.


Throughout, Oliveira produced rich, lush tone, unforced brilliance and clear-cut stylishness with every musical statement. And sent his audience home with an unexpected but treasurable bon mot, Fritz Kreisler’s “Chanson indienne.”