By Gigi Yellen
The CD “Live in the Fiddler’s House,” played in the car as I headed for Benaroya Hall to hear “Reb Itzik” play.
That would be Itzhak Perlman, the wildly famous virtuoso violinist, whose Jan. 28 concert as soloist and conductor was the second in a two-night stand that launched this year’s Seattle Symphony Mainly Mozart Series.
an Perlman do anything wrong? He got a standing ovation before he’d even played a note. It’s a little like Barack Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize. Thankfully, the notes Perlman did play, as both soloist and conductor, really did earn the ovations that came after he’d brought the concert to its breathless finale with Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony.
What’s with this “Reb Itzik” business? I’ll tell you. On that “Fiddler’s House” concert (recorded at Radio City Music Hall in 1996), he’s introduced that way, in Yiddish, by an experienced klezmer band. The “reb” thing, both an honorific and a term of endearment, is a sign of brotherhood. From what I can see, Maestro Perlman’s rock-star status fills the hall not just because he’s a great player, and not just because he’s a guy who stuck it to the naysayers long before the phrase “disability rights” was ever spoken, but because, first and always, he’s a brother in the community of people who love music.