"There is a danger in playing a piece over and over. It is like going to the office. You have to take a different street every now and then."
Itzhak Perlman, coming to Reno on Thursday for Artown Encore (an extension of the city's Artown, which fills July with a celebration of visual and performing arts), has performed in concert venues worldwide and played probably every important violin piece in the classical, and sometimes popular, repertoire.
"I always find new things in every truly great piece I play. Take the Beethoven Violin Concerto. I have played this piece oh, I don't keep count, but it is important to play it today not like I played it yesterday or the day before. I must at all times pay attention to the actual music and be excited 'Ah, here comes that amazing phrase.' "
His Reno program promises many amazing phrases, although nothing is set in stone. There will most likely be a Beethoven sonata, a César Franck sonata and a Giuseppe Tartini piece called the "Devil's Trill Sonata," along with some of what Perlman calls "virtuoso smaller pieces."
"How do you decide a program? I'll want to play what I'll want to hear," he said.
One of the lesser-known composers, Tartini, lived in the 18th century and had a dream one night that the devil appeared to him and he made a pact for his soul. When he gave the devil his violin to see if he could play it, Tartini was astounded at the beauty of the music produced.
He awoke to write down what he could remember, and "Devil's Trill" was the result, a piece he always considered his best. Perlman calls it "a nice baroquish piece."
There is also always a possibility the audience will hear a suite from the film "Schindler's List," for which Perlman recorded solo violin pieces. He thinks it "amazing that it has caught on so incredibly. I always call John Williams after I play it and tell him how wonderfully it was received. It is a beautiful piece of music."
This will be Perlman's third visit to Reno for an Artown concert.
"But as one gets older, everything becomes a jumble. I played one place recently and commented that I had never been there before. 'You played here last year,' they told me."
As for anybody he might yearn to play with, no name comes to mind.
"They are all dead. I would have liked to play with Toscanini conducting. I would have liked to play with Arthur Rubenstein, but wait, I actually did. It was, however, not formal, more like a jam session."
(Feb. 14; 8 p.m.; Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Reno; $75, $115; pioneercenter.com or 775-686-6600)
Out and about
The first of what North Lake Tahoe hopes will be an annual event takes place today through Sunday at the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area in Tahoe City. The Lake Tahoe Nordic Festival will start with a party and a film presentation by local athletes tonight. Then come the on-snow demos with clinics, group skis and historic snowshoe tours, along with races, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. (Schedule and further information at GoTahoeNorth.com)
Morrissey has canceled his second show at John Ascuaga's Nugget, and there is no indication this time of any to replace it. Refunds are available at (800) 648-1177.
Most casinos will celebrate Chinese New Year with special appearances and menus a bit later this month, but Squaw Valley will feature a lion dance Sunday. Ward off some bad luck and hit the slopes. (2 p.m.; squaw.com).
G. Love and Special Sauce perform a general- admission show Saturday at Harrah's Tahoe. (7 p.m.; $32.45; Ticketmaster).
The Crystal Bay Casino has a couple of winning free shows this weekend, commencing at 8 tonight with the Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans. The fun continues at 9 p.m. Saturday with a debut Tahoe performance by Poor Man's Whiskey, the Northern California band bringing a little of "The Dark Side of the Moonshine" to the lake. (775-833-6333 or crystalbaycasino.com)
Boomtown, Reno Events Center: Al Stewart, Feb. 23. (800) 648-3790.
Cal Neva Resort Frank Sinatra Showroom: Andre Nickatina, Smoov-E, Feb. 16. (800) 233-5551.
Carson Valley Inn Valley Ballroom: Michael Martin Murphey a Valentine's Cowboy Sweetheart Serenade, Thursday-Friday. Cabaret Lounge: Carolyn Dolan and Friends, today -Saturday; the Bradfords, Sunday-Wednesday. (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno Showroom: "Magique," Tuesdays-Sundays, through April 14. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room: G. Love and Special Sauce, March 2. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Reno Sammy's Showroom: The Magic of Eli Kerr, Fridays-Saturdays, through Feb. 23. The Stage @ the Zone: Steel Breeze, today-Saturday; Erin McKinney Band, next Friday-Feb. 16. (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Improv: Bret Ernst, Frazer Smith, today-Sunday; Bob Zany, Zan Aufderheide, Wednesday-Feb. 17. (800) 427-8397.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
MontBleu Resort, Lake Tahoe MontBleu Theatre: Taboo (Black Eyed Peas), today. Iration, Passafire, the Green, Pacific Dub, next Friday. (888) 829-7630.
Silver Legacy, Reno Grand Exposition Hall: Lewis Black, today; Jackson Browne, Feb. 17. Mezzanine level: Lion Dance, Feb. 17-18. (800) 687-8733.