- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

NEW YORK - It was Isaac Stern's last standing ovation at Carnegie Hall. After some six decades and 200 performances there, Mr. Stern was gone. And yet he wasn't.

A month after his death at age 81, the man who prevented one of America's citadels of culture from being turned into an office tower was remembered Tuesday with a free concert inside the auditorium named for him.

The Isaac Stern Auditorium's 2,800 seats were all filled, and 400 other people watched the concert via closed-circuit TV elsewhere in the 110-year-old building.

"Welcome to Isaac Stern's favorite room," Carnegie Hall Board Chairman Sanford I. Weill told the audience. "Isaac loved to say what made Carnegie Hall so special was the spirit of Tchaikovsky, Horowitz, Toscanini and countless others in these walls. … Now Isaac joins those spirits within Carnegie Hall."

Mr. Weill's were the only words from the stage about Stern, one of the 20th-century's leading violinists who - in addition to his extraordinary ear for music - had an eye for young talent and a gift for speech.

The music did the speaking Tuesday.

The construction workers building the subterranean Zankel Hall addition halted their efforts, making way for Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori and other top musicians who paid tribute to the man who helped cultivate their talents and guide their stellar careers.

In a fitting tribute to the future, these performers were joined by 24-year-old violist Jessica Thompson and 23-year-old cellist Efe Baltacigil, who participated in the last two Isaac Stern chamber music workshops.

All four pieces on the program had special meaning for Stern.

The first was said to be one of his first great loves - the Allegretto ma non troppo from Beethoven's Op. 70 No. 2 trio. Pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson performed it with a playfulness and simplicity that artfully masked the complexity of the piece.

Next was the elegant Larghetto from Mozart's piano quartet K. 493, performed by pianist Ax, violinist Midori, Laredo on viola and Ma on cello. Mr. Stern performed this work many times, including his last concert at Carnegie Hall in 2000 and at his final performance, in Japan in May. Dvorak's Romance in F Minor, the only piece on the program in a minor key, was next. Itzhak Perlman and pianist Yefim Bronfman captured the sweet, yearning song that was a Stern favorite.

The concert culminated with the lush first movement of Brahms' Op. 18 sextet. Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma and violist Pinchas Zukerman were joined by Ms. Thompson and Mr. Baltacigil. Mr. Stern, whose smiling, rabbinical face graced the cover of the program, would have loved seeing this intergenerational display of fire and passion.

Ms. Thompson, who is from Plymouth, Minn., is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. She participated in the 2000 Isaac Stern workshop in Jerusalem last year. Mr. Baltacigil, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, studies at Curtis. He participated in Stern's final workshop at Carnegie Hall, four months before Stern's death.

Before the music began Tuesday, Mr. Weill recalled that one of Mr. Stern's grandchildren said at the funeral that his grandfather's soul did not die. "A little bit of it is now in all of us," Mr. Weill said.

He then invited the audience to give that final standing ovation.


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