Last night Itzhak Perlman appeared with the CSO for a one-night only event featuring Associate Conductor Scott O'Neil conducting a very conservative program of a Weber Overture, Schumann's 4th Symphony, and three pieces by Mozart.
The first half of the program was completely uneventful. The Schumann would have been better if the Scherzo had actually been taken at a scherzo tempo instead of a waltz tempo. I understand that O'Neil is well liked by the musicians, but his conducting is not very complex. He uses his left hand far too much for tempo and rarely indicates interpretation.
Perlman's presence made a huge difference in the second half. His sound is amazing, especially on this low string. It was a little bit of a letdown to hear only Mozart, it owuld have been nice to hear him interpret a Romantic piece as well, but he did play beautifully. If I had to find a criticism, it seemed like his intonation was inconsistent. Boettcher hall has very strange acoustics and I wonder how well he could hear himself. The seating is in the round, so there are no walls reflecting sound back to him. He should have been able to hear the strings directly behind him so it's likely that his own sound was the problem.
The Mozart pieces were quite nice. The house was full, and the audience was very appreciative. However, having seen Yoyo Ma the year prior on the same stage, there's no question that Ma is the more engaging performer. Perlman was clearly enjoying himself, but Ma was clearly full of love for the music on a level I have rarely seen.