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Duncan Druce
Gramophone, June 2008

Portrait of a brilliant communicator, both in words and on the violin

Perlman is captured on film in the 1970s, at a high-point in his career. We see him performing two Bach Partitas, and in a documentary made at the same time he speaks about his life, his playing, his family, with illustrations of him performing, rehearsing, teaching, cooking and playing games with his children. As we expect from Nupen's films, the details are often revealing. In footage added for this DVD, Perlman, remembering Jacqueline du Pré, suggests she was unique in the way her personality and art were indivisible. With him, indeed, there might seem to be a division between the informal, relaxed raconteur and the perfectionist violinist, but Perlman too is a brilliant communicator, both with words and with the violin, because of the generous warmth of his personality. And there's no doubt that his ability to relax is an important aspect of his technical mastery; it's the complete lack of tension in his bow arm that allows him to play the arpeggiando passages in the Chaconne with such extraordinarily full, resonant tone. Because he must perform seated, he presents a pleasingly informal appearance, especially when playing from memory. But in the same way that his conversation, for all its off-the-cuff quality, reveals a thoughtful, committed musician, so his playing of Bach is deeply considered. The Chaconne has enormous cumulative force: we can see how his audience felt it 30 years ago, and still feel it today.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, February 2008

An excellent retrospective of Perlman's career Inevitably, there is some overlapping footage from Nupen's DuPre film here, but that's only proper, given the close relationship this "musical family" (Daniel Barenboim, Jacqueline DuPre, Pinchas Zukerman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Zubin Mehta) maintained for so long. Perlman's is indeed 'a heartening story of the spectacular triumph of talent, determination, character and tenacity over insurmountable odds, producing truly glorious results along the way. The footage and recorded sound quality are simply breathtaking. My only cavil is that the narrative leaves off at a point a couple of decades ago, showing nothing of this great artist's ongoing activities.

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