Itzhak Perlman

Playing chamber music outdoors is not a great idea. Playing it outdoors in January is a dreadful idea. Still, it was good to see Itzhak Perlman and three colleagues perform (well, mime to a taped performance, anyway) at the Obama inauguration. A little visibility for classical music in the broader culture, even if you’re already probably the world’s most famous violinist, can’t hurt. Tonight, with pianist Rohan de Silva, he’ll play meat-and-potatoes sonatas by Handel and Beethoven, then Olivier Messiaen’s 1932 Theme et variations. It’s based on a droopy, heavily perfumed, Baudelaire-stoned-on-absinthe sort of melody; over some 11 minutes, the variations get prickly in the middle, then ecstatic, then dreamy at the end. (Perhaps Baudelaire had a vision and fell asleep?) It’ll be an interesting piece to hear from someone renowned for his ingratiating sweetness of style and tone. And after that: “Additional works to be announced from the stage,” reads the program, which means a handful of dessert-y pieces. No problem, when they’re played by the violin world’s supreme confectioner. GAVIN BORCHERT

Wed., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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