A film by Christopher Nupen

COMPOSERS: A film by Christopher Nupen
LABELS: Allegro Films
ALBUM TITLE: Itzhak Perlman: Virtuoso violinist
PERFORMER: Itzhak Perlman (violin); with Vladimir Ashkenazy, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell, Philharmonia Orchestra and Aspen Chamber Symphony
The bulk of this DVD is an hour-long television film from 1978, showing Perlman in his thirties, already established as a superstar of the violin. There’s some early history: Perlman’s desire to take up the violin at the age of three-and-a-half, and his contracting polio at four, which led him to believe that he wouldn’t be able to have a career in music. It’s a pity that there’s no footage of his breakthrough appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which led to his family moving from Israel to New York, and the beginning of his progress to the international stage. But the mix of interview and music is well paced, and there’s little intrusive commentary. In his introduction, Nupen makes much of the power of the DVD to give added value – and a section with an older Perlman remembering Jacqueline du Pré, and excerpts from other Nupen films take up some of the remaining space. More valuable are complete performances of two Bach Partitas, taken from a BBC lunchtime concert at St John’s, Smith Square, discreetly shot, and complete with announcements by Patricia Hughes. But it would have been good to have included captions of where and when the individual segments of the documentary were made, as Perlman leaps between locations including London, New York, Tel Aviv, Wuppertal and Aspen, where he gives masterclasses to two young players. They turn out to be Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Chou Liang Lin, but you wouldn’t know until the final captions.