Navah Perlman – Bach Toccata et al

0 of 5 stars

Toccata in C minor BWV 911
Sonata in E Op.109
Nocturnes – in D flat Op.27/2 & B Op.32/1
MendelssohnVariations Serieuses Op.54
Romeo and Juliet (excerpts from the composer’s piano transcription suite)

Navah Perlman (piano)

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: April 2001
CD No: EMI CDZ 5 74019 2

Navah is Itzhak Perlman’s daughter, a Julliard School pupil, and a worthy inclusion in EMI’s laudable Debut series, one that gives us an opportunity to hear potentially important artists of tomorrow. It seems to me that a different critical criterion should be adopted for such releases. These CDs are calling-cards for the performers concerned – a recorded concert if you will (one selling for less than you would probably pay to hear live and once) and should be reviewed away from comparisons as a critique of the person profiled, a report on where the musician currently is in terms of their development and what a commentator can suggest for the future.

There’s no doubt that Navah is talented and very musical. If this sounds like a phrase from a school report, then it is an indication that she is still growing into a distinctive interpreter. Take any of the pieces here separately and one would praise her poise, well-chosen tempi, rhythmic clarity and her sympathetic, respectful playing. What is not in place, yet, is her identification with what makes her chosen composers different from one another; although not intimidated by it, she does not suggest, for example, just how great something like Op.109 is. Having established herself with a clear-cut account of the Bach, she offers similar interpretative parameters for the remaining works.

I’m inclined to say that Navah’s playing is too ’nice’; she has the notes in place but is over-concerned with each piece’s letter rather than its spirit. Something more identified, more instinctive, with each composer’s language and soundworld needs to be garnered.

As recorded – not in Abbey Road as one of the booklet’s banners suggests – her tone is somewhat lightweight, her colours not varied enough (but I think she is reproduced exactly). Playing for microphones may have inhibited her, but, although I find her playing likeable, she needs to develop more emotional presence and communication. I shall be returning to the Bach and Mendelssohn for Perlman plays both with an engaging lightness of touch and obvious affection. Her realisation of ’Romeo bids Juliet farewell’ is heartfelt, more spontaneous, and links nicely with the seriousness of purpose with which she approaches Bach.

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