Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2018

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Pianist — punchy, witty, clever and funny, yes. Dull, no.

Navah Perlman, pianist

Navah Perlman, pianist

If You Go

  • Who: Las Vegas Philharmonic with guest artist Navah Perlman
  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Artemus Ham Hall, UNLV
  • Tickets: $26-$73; 895-2787,

Sun Archives

One thing you should know about Navah Perlman’s Saturday performance in Las Vegas is that she won’t be pregnant.

I know, it’s a little personal. We’re sharing only because it’s true. In fact, she brought it up. All the other times Perlman has been in Las Vegas, she was pregnant and feeling a little, well, exhausted.

The other thing you should know about the mother of four is that her appreciation for the Beethoven concerto she’s performing with the Las Vegas Philharmonic goes beyond its obvious drama and musical brilliance. In addition to offering beautiful solo movements, the piece allows her to mesh with the orchestra — and she relishes the rare opportunity to be “part of the band.”

Yes, for all the glory of being a concert pianist, it can get a little lonely on your own.

But unlike other musicians, the 37-year-old isn’t concertizing year-round. Piano is there, always has been there, but there are other dimensions — even when you’re the daughter of one of the world’s most famous musicians.

Her father is violinist Itzhak Perlman and her mother, Toby, also played violin.

So, what happens when you are 6 and you tell your musician parents that you want to play piano? Do they get you the best teacher in town or just send you down the street to a neighborhood teacher?

She laughs. “Well, they don’t know how to do the send-you-down-the-street thing when it comes to music. The people they know are from that professional world. Now, had it been soccer ... ”

Oddly enough, her parents didn’t pressure her to play.

“I was very serious,” she says. “I kind of wanted to buckle down.”

But unexpected things happen, like being so enamored of an art professor that you switch majors from music to art history. Or you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which keeps you from the keyboard and causes you to build your skill all over again.

And just when — for some completely unexplainable reason — Perlman seems as though she ought to be very serious, reserved or of very few words, she is anything but.

Punchy, witty, clever and funny, yes.

Dull, no.

Her performance this weekend with the Las Vegas Philharmonic completes a sort of David Itkin hat trick.

Perlman performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in January with Itkin’s other orchestras: the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Abilene Philharmonic.

Perlman took a few minutes to talk with the Sun.

On Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3:

It’s a wonderful piece. It does have many moments of very intimate solo piano, moments when you can feel alone like you’re playing a sonata. Then there are parts when you’re playing with the orchestra. And that’s a lot of fun because we don’t often get to sit in a section. You feel like you’re a part of the band, so to speak.

On the benefits to playing piano:

The vast repertoire. There is so much repertoire written by different composers. Beethoven wrote 32 piano sonatas. He wrote five piano concerti. Chopin wrote no solo works for violin. If you’re a soloist and you want the most variety of repertoire, piano is the way to go. There is a constant feeling that you won’t get bored. You can live a lifetime and not get through all the piano literature.

On choosing Brown University rather than music school:

I always had a real love of learning in high school. Instead of a liberal arts college I could have applied for music schools, but I wanted to keep my brain absorbing and learning different stuff until I couldn’t anymore.

On switching majors:

I took art history and went gaga over the professor. I went into that class and never came out the same. A teacher can be so pivotal. I had actually declared a music major first. I had to switch majors and have him sign forms.

On concertizing:

I really had to cut back significantly if I wanted to feel like a human being. Every working mother probably goes through this. It was very much an easy decision for me to cut back. It’s really a matter of volume. You don’t have to play 100 concerts a year to have a career.

On performing pregnant:

You feel like you’re doing the baby a big favor. You think, “This has got to be good for the baby.”

Kristen Peterson can be reached at 259-2317 or at [email protected]

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