When Itzhak Perlman comes to town to perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic these days, expect him to be armed with bow and baton. Such was the case Thursday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall, where Perlman will be conducting through this weekend.
Perlman brought out his violin for two short selections with the orchestra and conducted a relatively compact one before intermission, then came back to lead the big Romantic symphonic standard that is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.
As with Perlman’s 2013 engagement with the Phil, his fans flocked to see him. Disney Hall looked nearly full Thursday, and the weekend concerts are almost sold out.
With Perlman, Tchaikovsky and Mozart on the bill, that’s about as sure a crowd-pleasing combination as you can get — and the ovations were thunderous. Fortunately, though, the Mozart selections were just unpredictable enough to pique the interest of those Perlman devotees who wanted something a little bit different from the 70-year-old superstar.
Perlman had recorded them beautifully with James Levine and the Vienna Philharmonic 30 years ago for Deutsche Grammophon, and it’s a pleasure to report that he has enough left in the tank to make them bloom again three decades later. Perlman’s intonation — not always a sure thing in his later years — was spot on. His tone was steady and sufficiently rich, and his conceptions, though basically the same, have gained in expressivity and, in the Rondo, wit. These performances were the closest I’ve heard to prime Perlman in years.
Los Angeles Times photographers document the year in arts and culture.(Los Angeles Times)
When the Mariinsky Ballet performed “Cinderella” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Oct. 8, even the wondrous Diana Vishneva as Cinderella couldn’t bring unity to the movement, but she danced with flawless, fearless authority. Read more >>(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins leaves a rehearsal of his play “Appropriate,” opening Oct. 4 at the Mark Taper Forum, to eat first with a reporter, then later with his agent and some unspecified Hollywood people, who presumably hope to lure him away from the field and city where he has experienced meteoric success in the last five years. Read more >>(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Kerstin Anderson takes charge of Maria von Trapp with a spirit so joyful, a physicality so lithe and coltish, and a soprano so flawlessly soaring that only Frau Schraeder, Capt. Von Trapp’s jilted fiancée (Teri Hansen), could possibly resist her charm. Read the Oct. 1 review >>(Los Angeles Times)
Soprano Abigail Fischer performs Oct. 7 in the opera “Songs from the Uproar” at REDCAT in Los Angeles.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Moisés Kaufman’s muscular revival of “Bent,” which played at the Mark Taper Forum, opening on July 26, renders what many had written off as a parochial drama about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany into a gripping tale of love, courage and identity. Read review >>(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Malaviki Sarukkai performing at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on July 19, 2015. Sarukkai is the best-known exponent of South Indian classical dance.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Bramwell Tovey conducts the L.A. Phil with pianist Garrick Ohlsson in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Hollywood Bowl on July 14, 2015.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Argentine dancer Herman Cornejo performs in the West Coast premiere of “Tango y Yo” as part of the Latin portion of BalletNow.(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Jake Shears plays Greta in Martin Sherman’s play “Bent” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles through Aug. 23, 2015.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Dancers rehearse a one-night-only performance choregraphed by Raiford Rogers, one of L.A.'s most-noted choreographers. This year the dance will be to a new original score by Czech composer Zbynek Mateju.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley in Los Angeles on July 9, 2015.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Mia Sinclair Jenness, left, Mabel Tyler and Gabby Gutierrez alternate playing the title role in the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” at the Ahmanson Theatre. The three are shown during a day at Santa Monica Pier on June 16, 2015.(Christina House / For The Times)
American Contemporary Ballet Company members Zsolt Banki and Cleo Magill perform a dance routine originally done by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. This performance was presented as part of "Music + Dance: L.A.” on Friday, June 19, 2015.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Miguel, a Grammy-winning guitarist, producer, singer and lyricist, is photographed in San Pedro on Wednesday, June 10, 2015. His new album "Wildheart,” explores L.A.'s “weird mix of hope and desperation.”(Christina House / For The Times)
Los Angeles-born artist Mark Bradford is photographed in front of “The Next Hot Line.” This piece is part of his show “Scorched Earth,” installed at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, June 11, 2015.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
The Los Angeles Opera concluded its season with “The Marriage of Figaro,” with Roberto Tagliavini as Figaro and Pretty Yende as Susanna, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
“Trinket,” a monumental installation by Newark-born, Chicago-based artist William Pope.L, features an American flag that is 16 feet tall and 45 feet long. The work is on display at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA through June 28.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Alex Knox, from left, Carolyn Ratteray, Lynn Milgrim and Paige Lindsey White in “Pygmalion” in spring 2015 at the Pasadena Playhouse.(Mariah Tauger / For The Times)
On March 17, Google celebrated the addition of more than 5,000 images to its Google Street Art project with a launch party at the Container Yard in downtown Los Angeles.(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Ric Salinas, left, Herbert Siguenza and Richard Montoya, of the three-man Latino theater group Culture Clash, brought their “Chavez Ravine: An L.A. Revival” to the Kirk Douglas Theatre to mark the group’s 30th anniversary. The play ran from Feb. 4 through March 1.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
As for Mozart’s Symphony No. 27 — a brief, cheerful, three-movement throwback to earlier symphonic patterns: This piece had never been played by the L.A. Phil. In Perlman’s hands, the symphony was a warm and friendly affair, with a robust texture that made the most out of the small contingency of musicians. It had good rhythm, plenty of string vibrato and more than a touch of the conductor’s sense of humor in the second movement. One could infer that Perlman and company were blithely and deliciously unconcerned with any period-performance notions.
For Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, the Philharmonic expanded to its full size, and Perlman made convincingly dark and slow work of the gloomy opening bars. From there, though, the performance trudged forward at a heavy, draggy pace in the outer movements, not quite so much in the middle movements.
The violinist-turned-conductor does have a grand, coherent conception of what he wants, and the orchestra played luxuriously well for him. But it is terribly difficult to make the Tchaikovsky 5 sound fresh again. L.A. Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel is one of the few who can pull off that feat these days, and this wasn’t one of those occasions.
L.A. Philharmonic with Itzhak Perlman
Where: Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Info: (323) 850-2000, www.laphil.com