Listen to this amazing performance of the final movement of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto played by Itzhak Perlman. You probably know Tchaikovsky as a Romantic composer of lush, fiery, emotionally charged music, but don’t forget that he was also a ballet composer. You may notice a grace and elegance in the rhythm that suggests dance.
After you listen, consider what makes Perlman’s performance so exciting. The piece is a tight rope walk but Perlman is always in control. Notice his sense of timing and the precision of his rhythm. The music never rushes. Also pay attention to his highly expressive and often roaring tone. Does this expand your perspective on what type of tone is “beautiful”? Do you hear tone colors that you didn’t know the violin could produce?
Notice how the orchestra interacts with the solo, sometimes supporting and other times conversing. Pay attention to each instrument’s unique personality and color. For instance in the interlude at 5:54 notice how the melody is passed back and forth between the oboe and clarinet and then the flute and bassoon. Each voice brings a unique color.
You can find a live recording of this performance with Perlman, Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic at iTunes or Amazon.
Now that you’ve enjoyed the clip, you may want to hear Perlman perform the First and Second Movements of the concerto. Perlman has some interesting things to say about the Tchaikovsky concerto here.