Itzhak Perlman / Seiji Ozawa

Bernstein: Serenade; Barber: Violin Concerto; Foss: Three American Pieces

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In tribute to his adopted country, Itzhak Perlman recorded The American Album in 1994, and it is one of the more interesting volumes reissued in EMI's Perlman Edition of 2003. While these pieces have not yet achieved the highest status in the violin repertoire, Perlman's advocacy has exposed them to a wider audience and nudged them upward. Leonard Bernstein's Serenade (after Plato: Symposium) is largely in a lyrical vein, which is appropriate to its program -- a philosophical discourse on the nature of love. Yet there is also an intellectual detachment in the music that seems uncomfortable to Perlman, which in turn results in a rather cautious performance. Perlman is more in his element in Samuel Barber's romantic Violin Concerto, the centerpiece of the album. Arching lines and glowing orchestration make this the most satisfying work, and Perlman's tone is at its richest, particularly in the radiant Andante. The American Pieces (3) by Lukas Foss, orchestrated by the composer at Perlman's request for this recording, are similar to Copland in their overt Americanism and directness, yet they are somewhat less than captivating for this blatant imitation. The Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa provide brilliant support throughout the recording, and the all-digital recording is excellent.

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