Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax – each winners of multiple Grammy Awards among a myriad of other honors – have teamed up for the exquisite album of Romantic-era masterpieces: the Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major by Gabriel Fauré and the lone Violin Sonata by Richard Strauss. In addition to this being Perlman’s first new solo recording in over a decade, it is also the first recording by this violin-piano team after years of performing together on stage, and the first time Perlman has recorded these two major sonatas. Perlman and Ax will also kick-off a series of concert dates later this year.
Describing the Fauré sonata, Perlman says: “It smells like ambrosia – the essence of French music, a lovely piece. For a violinist, its phrases are a real satisfaction to play, as they’re so rich.” As for the Strauss sonata, Perlman says, “It’s by the young Strauss – emotionally heroic, very appassionato. I like to write stories in my mind about the music I play, to help me with the phrasing. This is a dramatic story – although in the slow movement, I imagine it in a coffeehouse, intimate and warm.”
Born in 1945 in Tel Aviv, Itzhak Perlman began playing the violin when he was so small that all he could hold was a toy fiddle. Although he was disabled by polio at age 4, he played his first recital by age 10. He studied at the Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay and Ivan Galamian and made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963. He was introduced to a wider American public via multiple appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, including a 1964 episode that also featured the Rolling Stones. After winning the prestigious Leventritt Competition the same year, Perlman went on to a career as a soloist that has seen him appear to acclaim on all the world’s great stages and make hundreds of recordings.
His prize-winning discography not only covers the width and breadth of the great classical violin repertoire; he has also made ventures into Klezmer music and film soundtracks, including the Oscar-winning score to Schindler’s List. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Perlman has won four Emmy Awards, including for the 1998 PBS documentary Fiddling for the Future, about the Perlman Music Program and his work as a teacher. Having collaborated with all the world’s major orchestras as a soloist, Perlman has for years performed with many of them as a conductor. A rarity for a classical artist, he has appeared everywhere from Sesame Street to the White House including a performance for the first inaugural of President Obama. In 2000, he was awarded a National Medal of Arts, and in 2003, Perlman earned a Kennedy Center Honor celebrating his distinguished achievements and contributions to the country’s cultural and educational life. He currently holds the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair at the Juilliard School. (Universal Music)