It’s rare in the world of classical music for a performer to become a household name, but violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman is a brand unto himself.
In Alison Chernick’s documentary Itzhak, the artist is introduced wearing a Mets jersey, getting ready to perform the national anthem at Citi Field in Queens. He easily charms the VIPs as well as those in the cheap seats. A prodigious talent, to be sure, he’s also been blessed with the common touch.
The film blends his performances (with Zubin Mehta in Israel and Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden), with clips from his childhood in Tel Aviv, where, crippled by polio, he almost didn’t get into the prestigious Juilliard School. But it’s in his cozy kitchen — wallpapered with photos of his five kids, grandchildren and his wife of a half-century, Toby – that we get to know the man: the jovial grandfather, the joke teller, the dedicated husband, the patient teacher and loyal friend, who is as excited as a child as he makes his famous “garbage” soup for his long-time pal, Alan Alda.