WORKS: Serenade; Violin Concerto; Three American Pieces
PERFORMER: Itzhak Perlman (violin)Boston SO/Seiji Ozawa
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55360 2 DDD
Here is a lesson in 20th-century American concertante violin repertoire, and an equally valuable lesson in how to perform it – Perlman, Ozawa and the musicians of the Boston SO are in fine fettle.
The five movements of Bernstein’s Platonic Serenade are sympathetically written for the violin, and the appeal of their implied programme in praise of love is immediate. But I must admit that, after hearing an awful lot of Bernsteiniana since the composer’s death, many of the well-worn fingerprints – the jazzy riffs, the nervously rising and falling melodic shifts, the sprinklings of hemiola – begin to sound like mannerisms.
Barber’s radiant concerto is played with the affection and understanding it deserves, with gorgeous tone, and dazzling fireworks in the scintillating finale. But it’s Lukas Foss’s Three American Pieces that most vividly capture the musical imagery of verdant rural expanses and folk culture that are the America of popular nostalgia. In their way they provide an ideal foil to Bernstein’s urban sensibility at the start of the disc, yet for all their suggestiveness, they achieve their end without sounding like Copland. No easy task. Barrymore Laurence Scherer