Although a great virtuoso, Itzhak Perlman has never been much of a risk taker. Even in these debut recordings from Boston in 1966 and 1967, he refuses to make anything but lovely sounds, and no phrase is allowed to escape his careful control. He's an artist who eschews impetuosity. I like the refurbished High Performance sonocs in 24/96 digital. The violin sounds natural, without shrillness in its upper range, and the BSO has plenty of room to breathe.
For me, Leinsdorf is always a problem. Here, as usual, he keeps strict time and is routine in every respect. He shares half the blame for the low-key first movement of the Tchaikovsky, which really needs fire and passion, not caution. But Perlman isn't exactly ablaze, either, as marvelously well as he plays.
The Sibelius concerto has a more important orchestral part, so we sorely miss a Rattle, Muti, or Sinopoli on the podium, just to mention the conductors who support Nigel Kennedy, Gidon Kremer, and Gil Shaham so incisively on their recordings. The violin concerto is in Sibelius's ripest romantic style, deeply influenced by Tchaikovsky, but if anything Leinsdorf is more recessive here. The Adagio is taken fairly quickly, however, which is a help in sustaining interest if you're going to be this literal. The finale begs for more energy from the orchestra, but Perlman breaks loose a bit and gives a gripping acocunt of the solo part.
If you want to hear the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos played with emphasis on tonal beauty and control, this is a five-star CD. But for me, the only listener who would be thrilled by it is a violin teacher.