15. January 2009 · Comments Off on Must One Applaud? · Categories: Reviews

Itzhak Perlman was part raconteur, teacher and etiquette scold Monday night at his recital before a sold-out hall at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, but in the middle of all that the Israeli-born violinist managed to be a good advocate for an early work of Messiaen.

Perlman played the French composer’s Theme and Variations, written in 1932, not once but twice in the second half of his program. “I’m telling you, it’s a terrific piece,” he said, and then suggested that he and pianist Rohan de Silva might repeat it.

But first he had to gently upbraid the audience for its initial lukewarm response to the relatively brief work, which ends with a long diminuendo that expires at the bottom of the violin and piano registers. “Tell me something: Was it really that bad that half of you didn’t want to clap?” Perlman said, then advised them on good concert manners, which involves applause even after you hear something you don’t like.

Hmmm. I wonder about this. Do we clap to be polite no matter what?

I’m not saying this performance didn’t deserve applause; I don’t know the work. I do know Mr. Perlman’s playing, and I certainly can’t imagine not applauding him.

But, according to the review, Mr. Perlman is saying one should always applaud.

I’m just not sure about that.

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