One way to tell whether performers really have the goods is to listen to what happens when they play very, very softly.

Consider, for example, the young violinist Giora Schmidt, a protégé and student of Itzhak Perlman, who played the Beethoven Violin Concerto Saturday night in the opening concert of the Long Island Philharmonic's 28th season. At the very quietest moments of the first movement, when the violin's singing was almost inaudible, all one heard in the auditorium was the faint murmur of the ventilation system - and the violinist. Schmidt held the audience rapt. There was not a cough or rustle to be heard.
There were many moments like that in the performance. At times Schmidt made this most familiar of concerti sound fresh, almost improvisatory, as if the music had never been heard before. He played the first movement cadenza as a long, narrative exposition of what had come before, not merely an occasion for display.

Impeccable technique and control are so common nowadays that Schmidt could not really impress through sheer virtuosity, though there was plenty of that. In fact, on occasion his sound was rather small, but at its best his playing had a delicate sweetness and a golden sheen. His manner on stage was almost diffident - no grandiose digging and sweating, no strenuous, visible effort. Rather, Schmidt triumphed through the music alone, and much of the time his performance was indeed a triumph.

One could tell Schmidt had studied with Perlman - his playing was just as brilliant ...
Peter Goodman Newsday
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