Listen to this amazing performance of the final movement of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto played by Itzhak Perlman. You probably know Tchaikovsky as a Romantic composer of lush, fiery, emotionally charged music, but don’t forget that he was also a ballet composer. You may notice a grace and elegance in the rhythm that suggests dance.
After you listen, consider what makes Perlman’s performance so exciting. The piece is a tight rope walk but Perlman is always in control. Notice his sense of timing and the precision of his rhythm. The music never rushes. Also pay attention to his highly expressive and often roaring tone. Does this expand your perspective on what type of tone is “beautiful”? Do you hear tone colors that you didn’t know the violin could produce?
Notice how the orchestra interacts with the solo, sometimes supporting and other times conversing. Pay attention to each instrument’s unique personality and color. For instance in the interlude at 5:54 notice how the melody is passed back and forth between the oboe and clarinet and then the flute and bassoon. Each voice brings a unique color.
You can find a live recording of this performance with Perlman, Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic at iTunes or Amazon.
Now that you’ve enjoyed the clip, you may want to hear Perlman perform the First and Second Movements of the concerto. Perlman has some interesting things to say about the Tchaikovsky concerto here.
2 thoughts on “Perlman Plays Tchaikovsky”
Dear Timothy, many thanks for this insight and analysis which have benefited me.
I think most listeners just go for melodies and do not know or care about such fine points but to know all this is an extra bonus. I think Tchaikovsky has been underrated as his symphonies are deemed to be inferior to those of the other masters–some refer to his ‘symphonic failures’ as he tended to digress and ramble-
a matter of opinion-for sheer lyricism, lushness and emotionalism, he is hard to beat-
his Andante Cantabile made Tolstoi cry….I am always mindful of his ballet music which is indescribably beautiful. Well Peter T’kovsky…sleep well–we have not forgotten you!
It is great to know you Timothy. Warm regards Peter, Melb
Thank you for your comment, Peter. I agree regarding Tchaikovsky. His music continues to be played and does not go out of style, which seems like the real test of greatness.