CAMA pulled a card from the top of the deck for its season-opening concert, hosting violin icon Itzhak Perlman with long-time collaborator pianist Rohan de Silva. An enthusiastic capacity audience at the Granada greeted the duo warmly and was treated to masterful renditions of sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven, Edvard Grieg, and Giuseppe Tartini. After ambulating on crutches for most of his life (Perlman, a childhood victim of polio, has also been a lifelong advocate for the disabled), the Israeli-American violinist now takes the stage driving an electric scooter. Perlman shot into the American public eye on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1958 at the age of 13 and has enjoyed sustained popularity since then, not only for his phenomenal technique, but also for the ease and joy of his music-making, his heartfelt connection with audiences, his humor and eloquence, and his commitment to his Jewish heritage. Like Louis Armstrong, Perlman possesses the inner credentials to earn that rare status as an international ambassador of the heart.
From the opening fanfare of Sonata No. 1 in D Major by Beethoven, it was clear that violinist and pianist share one mind. The brilliant variations in the second movement were tossed off in a spirit of playful contest as the instruments traded leading voices. Perlman’s lines soared against de Silva’s pulses in the lyrical second movement of the Sonata No. 3 in C Minor by Grieg, and the Sonata in G Minor, “Devil’s Trill” by Tartini proved an excellent showpiece for displaying the 68-year-old violinist’s untarnished chops. But then began a generous and endearing series of encores, including Jascha Heifetz’s transcription of Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” John Williams’s theme from Schindler’s List, and Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 1. Congratulations to CAMA for continuing to make possible living encounters with such legendary musicians.