September 20, 2015
Itzhak Perlman's treasure trove violin discography released as 70th birthday box
Itzhak Perlman: The Complete Warner Recordings box set represents a journey through one of the most outstanding recorded legacies of the second half of the twentieth century.
Itzhak Perlman’s discography is dizzying in its exceptional quality and in the sheer variety of riches it has to offer. In terms of volume, it exceeds those of the most productive violinists of the last century — performers such as Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrakh and even Jascha Heifetz — Perlman approaching every branch of the repertoire with equal delight, assurance, charm and sincerity.
The number of works in Perlman’s discography is staggering in itself: 550 pieces of all shapes and sizes, written by 110 different composers. He has recorded a vast range of concertos — most of the Classical, Romantic and twentieth-century works in the genre, working with 25 orchestras under 20 different conductors.
His peerless recorded catalogue of miniatures, made in partnership with his accompanist of choice Samuel Sanders, is particularly impressive. It includes a large number of original works and transcriptions by Fritz Kreisler, arrangements by Jascha Heifetz, pieces by Wieniawski and Vieuxtemps and Spanish dances by Sarasate. Perlman has also demonstrated his fondness and talent for performing music that lies beyond the standard classical repertoire, from the rags of Scott Joplin to klezmer melodies, from film soundtracks to jazz and blues with André Previn or Oscar
Working with two great partners, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniel Barenboim (not forgetting a fleeting, but sensational, one-off collaboration with Martha Argerich), Perlman has also recorded huge swathes of the sonata repertoire. In the sphere of chamber music, his recordings are as enthralling as they are varied. He has explored the duo repertoire, with his friend Pinchas Zukerman (a rare partnership, the like of which had only been seen before in the father-and-son pairing of David and Igor Oistrakh), the literature of string and piano trios (where Schubert is the great absentee) and even that of the oboe quartet.
The possessor of a fine bass voice, he has even sung the part of the jailer in Tosca, and taken on the narrator’s role in Peter and the Wolf and The Carnival of the Animals. And in bringing his violin accompaniment to some of the greatest voices of his time (Plácido Domingo, Kathleen Battle), he has also perpetuated a tradition established by his predecessors Mischa Elman and Fritz Kreisler.
The discography of Itzhak Perlman constitutes an incredibly rich and diverse resource. The demands he makes on himself are matched only by his enthusiasm and his generosity, qualities that have earned him the title of “world’s most popular violinist”.
The collected edition of the Complete Warner Recordings stands as a legacy beyond compare in violin recording history. And Perlman’s gift to music-lovers continue to grow, as the violinist celebrates his 70th birthday year. There are bound to be some wonderful surprises in store for us all.