Itzhak Perlman has a lot on his plate these days besides playing the fiddle. Yet somewhere amid his media appearances, educational endeavors and conducting -- his latest post being the surprising one of artistic director of the Westchester (N.Y.) Philharmonic, just beyond the glare of New York City -- he still finds the time and desire to perform good old-fashioned violin recitals.
In doing so, Perlman provides ample comfort food for his doting fans, who flocked to his first recital in Walt Disney Concert Hall since January 2005 on Sunday night (it was officially sold out).
The routine doesn't seem to have changed much over the decades -- three sonatas followed by the eagerly awaited cavalcade of "spontaneous" encores with comic commentary. Yet the sonatas that Perlman chose apparently are not in his vast discography, so he was exposing the faithful to some relatively new, if not exactly envelope-stretching, offerings. They were, in the following order: J.S. Bach's Sonata in E, BWV 1016; Richard Strauss' Sonata in E flat; and Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Violin and Piano.
There was a time when Perlman came as close to perfection -- technical and artistic -- as any violinist I've heard in live performance. These days, there are subtle signs that he may have stepped a bit back from that edge: an occasional unsteady attack, a somewhat thinner tone quality (one wonders whether Disney Hall's acoustics figured in the latter).