From a practical point of view, the news of Itzhak Perlman's recital in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Monday night was that here and there an empty seat gaped. Not many, to be sure, but for a Perlman concert enough to be noticeable.
For the rest, the musical aspects of the occasion, the ritual was much as before, and before that.
Perlman's playing is always suave, it blows both hot and cold, and every so often it courts excitement.
No matter what, the audience response is always explosive. They adore him, in and out of his various seasons.
Actually, the temperature range is not that great. Perlman works in a predetermined pattern: He opens with long and boring sonatas and the like, and eventually he gets around to announcing his own lagniappe as a kind of innocent musical cabaret.
By way of experiment, it would be interesting if sometime he would reverse the procedure and let his audience get heated up at the beginning and cool down at the end. It could work artistically to the performer's advantage.
It might also put the major stress on the soloist, who under the present system must share equal plaudits with his pianist. In this instance, Janet Guggenheim well deserved her acclaim. She can be a little too subservient to the soloist, but she can also be assertive in an admirably fluent and musically intelligent style.
Perlman and Guggenheim showered sparks casually in Schubert's Rondeau Brillant in B minor. They were good in the quasi-orchestral style of Richard Strauss' Sonata in E-flat. But they became deeply involved only in Debussy's ravishing Sonata in G minor, which glinted and glistened with provocative nuance.
The audience waited patiently for the final, "to-be-announced" section of the program. Perlman and Guggenheim bumbled through the pile of music, the violinist joked about the well-planned confusion and the audience laughed and laughed. There were six installments to this chapter, and, afterward, an authentic encore rounded off the evening and calmed the cheering.
For the record, the works played were: Chopin-Kreisler: Mazurka in A minor; Sarasate: Malaguena; Dvorak-Kreisler: "Songs My Mother Taught Me"; Wieniawski: Capriccio in A minor; Kreisler: Tempo di Menuetto; Lukas Foss: "Composer's Holiday." The encore was the Introduction and Tarantella by Pablo de Sarasate.