Hearing violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann play is like visiting Greenwich Royal Observatory. Greenwich pinpoints exact placement on Earth; Zimmermann hums a standard of intonation no less perfect.
The German violinist has been a regular since Wolfgang Sawallisch became music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and in Sawallisch's return yesterday to the podium at the Academy of Music, Zimmermann was there to play Britten's too rarely heard Concerto.
In this introverted piece, Britten sampled the violin's full expressive capacity. He frequently matched the solo violin with an improbable mate - tuba, timpani, among them - and those pairings make an enormous effect if the pitch is exact. Zimmermann's centered intonation allowed his sound to float at pianissimo above big orchestral events and sensitive wisps of instrumental sound.