Itzhak Perlman’s 1996 “A la Carte” is one of my favorite classical discs. One aspect that makes it unique is the fact that instead of having only two concertos, Perlman chooses to play many “non-concerto” pieces. This is a welcome change from the standard recording scheme, and it gives the listener a wide variety of pieces to enjoy, from Sarasate to Glazunov.
The first and third tracks, Jules Massenet’s “Meditation” and Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise,” are slow and flowing and show off Perlman’s warm, smooth tone and heart-warming vibrato. The second track is one of my favorites, Alexander Glazunov’s “Mazurka-Obereque.” This piece, which I had never heard before, is a lively, attention-grabbing dance in triple time that is sure to be a favorite with aspiring violinists who adore Perlman. Accompanying this is another from Glazunov, “Meditation,” the more popular of the two works.
On this CD Perlman brilliantly performs both “Zigeunerweisen” and “Introduction and Tarantelle,” compositions by Pablo de Sarasate. “Zigeunerweisen,” a once enormously popular but now rarely heard work, and “Introduction and Tarantelle” show off Perlman’s unparalleled technique, from his seemingly effortless left-hand work to his superb bow arm.
The three contrasting Kreisler works, “Fantasy on Russian Themes,” “The Old Refrain” and “Schon Rosmanin,” again highlight Perlman’s amazing tone and are reminiscent of Kreisler’s reign as king of violinists. Finally, Tchaikovsky’s “Scherzo” and Wieniawski’s “Legende,” two lesser-known works, round off this CD, helping to make it one of Perlman’s most diverse and unique.
Of all the Perlman recordings, this is undoubtedly my favorite. It has such a variety of contrasting compositions that I can leave it in my car stereo for a week without growing tired of it. This recording reminds listeners why Itzhak Perlman is one of our greatest violinists, for he is truly amazing in all aspects of the word. Here Perlman, along with conductor Lawrence Foster and the Abbey Road Ensemble, has created another marvelous disc.