Westchester Philharmonic

October 9. 2010

When you have a world class violinist–arguably the best in the world–close to home, there is no lamenting that there is no culture nearby.  It is not necessary to go to Manhattan to hear great music, masterfully played.

The opening concert of the 2010–2011 season featured Maestro Itzhak Perlman, the one and only, now beginning his third year as artistic director, playing violin and conducting a program featuring a couple of lesser known Beethoven works, two Romances for violin and orchestra;  Hector Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, and Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, the Pathetique.

Maestro Perlman’s virtuosity was a joy to hear and to behold as his fingers glided effortlessly through some of the most intricate passages in the Beethoven.  It is like he is singing songs with his fingers.

A man of good humor, he joked with the audience at times, even taking a moment to report the playoff score of the Yankee game in progress, making no secret that he is fan.

As for the music itself, the Tchaikovsky symphony is common among the usual classical repertoire and I am told the Berlioz is often played as well.  The most recognizable piece of the evening was Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5 played as an encore.  But it was the third movement of the Pathetique that was so rousing and dynamically played by this great orchestra under the golden baton of Maestro Perlman, that I am quite sure this movement gave the earth a small, but discernible, bump out of orbit.

Born in Israel, Perlman is inspiring in another way.   He was stricken with polio at age four and uses crutches to make his way laboriously, but unassisted, to the chair from which he plays and the podium from which he conducts.  

The Westchester Philharmonic is in residence at Purchase College.  If you love or even like music, some of the finest is right here for your enjoyment.