He’s a once-in-a-generation virtuoso and a consummate entertainer, but don’t forget that Itzhak Perlman is also a tireless scholar of the repertoire and tradition of his instrument. Among Perlman’s many areas of interest and expertise, the one that he presented at The Granada Theatre on Tuesday, January 15 — his lifelong project to take the measure of the great Fritz Kreisler — seems the most personal and the most intense. The second half of this memorable concert featured two ways of looking at Kreisler’s legacy. Of the five additional works that Perlman announced from the stage as encores, two were Kreisler arrangements, and these presented the familiar side of this great artist. But the Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100 of Antonin Dvořák with which Perlman opened the evening’s second half has a Kreisler connection as well. Dvořák was inspired to write the second movement, “Larghetto,” by the sight of Minnehaha Falls in Minnesota, and his publisher, hearing a hit, offered it as a separate composition under the title “Indian Lament.” Kreisler became the most popular interpreter of the “Indian Lament.”
The first half of the program offered an equally erudite and enjoyable combination, opening with the Suite in the Old Style for Violin and Piano, Op. 80 of Alfred Schnittke, while giving pride of place to the No. 7 in C Minor, Op. 30, No. 2, Beethoven’s longest violin sonata. The Schnittke, written in 1972, was created out of parts of Soviet film soundtracks the composer had written earlier in his career. The final movement, “Pantomime,” made its original debut in a cartoon. Yet this stirring neoclassical suite sounded perfectly at home next to the work of Beethoven when he was on the cusp of his heroic period. Leave it to Itzhak Perlman to create such musical magic out of improbable history.