Sunday, 29 August 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee with Itzhak Perlman

Hello again to my Sunday morning show which almost didn’t appear.  As late as Friday morning I was resigned to making an apology:  I had no show, no artist, no theme.  I’ve found concentration difficult to come by these last few weeks and I had done nothing to build a show. 

But then everything fell into place.  Having dropped my younger child at school the thought of “doing” violin virtuosos popped in as I drove home.  Immediately I knew this would work.  As chance would have it the first virtuoso I listened to was Perlman.  I knew the name – that was all – but from the first few notes I knew, for reasons I’ll give later, that this show was his.


Ah!  The show preparation moved effortlessly on as I floated on a wave of pure musical magic.   I hope you enjoy Perlman’s music as much as I did in discovering it.

Now, after that ramble, you can take a couple of minutes to get your coffee, find a comfy chair and prepare your ears for a feast. 

I should point out that this is the longest show I’ve done – 9 videos, 64mins – and so if you want to view and listen a few tracks at a time please feel welcome.  I’ve put all the music in a playlist – Itzhak Perlman – Sunday Morning Coffee. You might want to have YouTube set to play all the videos and read my blog as the music goes on.  Whatever you do is fine by me.


Sarasate:                                                       Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs)

This was the first Perlman piece I found and I was entranced immediately by his sound but much more than that.  His music was not just the sound, beautiful as it was: the violin was of him and he was the music.  That was the point at which he became the focus for the show and at which I was captured by his brilliance.

The music starts after a 1m 50sec introduction but it is worth the wait!

I don’t think I’ll comment on each piece because I’ll simply repeat myself.


Perlman was born In Tel Aviv in August 1945.  He contracted polio when he was 4, now walks with difficulty even with crutches and plays sitting down.



Vivaldi:                                           Four Seasons – Winter  -  Movement 2  Largo

Less than 3 minutes but if heaven sounds like this then take me there now!


Perlman moved to the USA to study in 1958 and became well-known that same year by appearing on the Ed Sullivan show.  If you want much more biographical detail then please read these 3 articles:  Wikipedia, IMDb, IMG Artists.


Bazzini:                                                                  La Ronde des Lutins Opus 25

I suspect this piece is often used to show off one’s skills and Itzhak has skill in spades.  Enjoy this demonstration.

Bloody hell!



Next up we move to

Tchaikovsky:                                                                Violin Concerto in D Opus 35

One YouTube comment is,

“this man was accidentally born as a human. He was actually supposed to be a violin.”

I understand this comment.  Listen.


Gershwin: Summertime    with the Modern Jazz Quartet


Now with four tracks to go it’s time for a break, more coffee, stretch the legs, make sure you haven’t died and gone to heaven.



Next up is some Bach but Bach as I’ve never heard it before.

Bach: Partita No 3 in E for solo violin 
                                                       Menuet, Bourree, Gigue


Of this world but out of this world.


Carlos Gardel:                                                Tango from ‘Scent of a Woman’

Here Perlman plays a tango from the film, Scent of a Woman.

This has very few YouTube plays but is worthy of millions more.  I have never heard music played like this.



A paucity of words this week but they’re not needed.  Now some more Tchaikovsky.

Tchaikovsky:                                                         Serenade Melancolique Op 26

Another YouTube comment is,

“People "play" the violin. Perlman gives it life.”

I think this is what I was trying to say about him.



Last up is a piece which, apparently, is well-known.  I didn’t know it but I do now.

Bruch:                                                                          Violin Concerto No 1 – Mvt 2

The recording is slightly hissy but I would have died happily rather than omit this.

I have never – and I really mean this -  encountered such beauty.  A man, a genius, at one with the universe.  Thank you Max and Itzhak.


Every week I rave about an artist or a performance but never in my life have I heard a violin sound like this nor heard music of this quality.  As I listened today with my eyes closed I could feel every emotion, see the entire world.  If ever I discover this again I shall be a lucky lucky man.

Itzhak Perlman, your gift is God-given but thank you for sharing its fruit with me.



Thank you for listening and I look forward to seeing you next week.


  1. What can I write? As you said: Words are not needed. Incredible performance! Thank you for sharing.

  2. It has been said that Perlman gives the violin life. It must also be true that a good violin allows us to hear Perlman.

    A very good morning to you and thanks for a great selection. Enjoy the F1 at Spa later, Calum.

  3. Claude How could I not share this? Many thanks.

    MTG Yes! How did you know I was going to watch the F1?

  4. Had to snatch a second helping of Bach and will be bach for more, later. Good taste made it a sure bet you would watch F1, Calum.

  5. Oh yes, the gypsy airs were superb and the intro was very funny, not a distraction at all.

    You say you nearly didn't do it this week, Calum. I don't want to put pressure on you but I suspect a great many people pop over for your segment and my on cultural education has been improved greatly by your Sunday mornings.

    Coffee is at the ready.

    As you say though, I think it will be a case of not overdoing it and coming back a few times. Might I suggest a link in your sidebar to your Sunday series, say the last four weeks at any time, so that people can pop over and click to go to the Sunday?

  6. Good idea, James. I had intended to have a link which would take readers to any SMC post but I never got that started.

    I'll try to get something done.

  7. your blog is the Mare Tranquillitatis in the lunacy that is the internet


    and have you noticed how classical musicians (as well as the MJQ) are always impeccably dressed?