DVORAK: Violin Concerto in A Minor; MOZART: Adagio in E Major; Rondo in C Major; GLAZOUNOV: Violin Concerto in A Minor – Nathan Milstein, violin/ Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra/Antal Dorati/ RCA Victor Symphony/Vladimir Golschamann – Naxos Historical

by | Nov 22, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

DVORAK: Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53; MOZART: Adagio in E
Major, K. 261; Rondo in C Major, K. 373; GLAZOUNOV: Violin Concerto in
A Minor, Op. 82 – Nathan Milstein, violin/ Minneapolis Symphony
Orchestra/Antal Dorati/ RCA Victor Symphony/Vladimir Golschmann
(Mozart)/ RCA Victor Symphony/William Steinberg (Glazounov)/

Naxos Historical 8.110975, 60:52 ****:

One of the most consistently thrilling violinists to listen to, just in
terms of the sheer electric virtuosity he brought to his playing, was
Nathan Milstein (1904-1992), perhaps my first great idol among
fiddlers. The late critic Irving Kolodin once penned an article on
Nathan Milstein called “Nathan Milstein and the 6 B’s: Bach, Beethoven,
Brahms, Bruch and Better & Better.” Virtually until the end of his
career, Milstein’s musical savvy and unforced seamless bravura seemed
to improve, and each reconsideration of his basic repertory gained in
thoughtfulness and nuance. He recorded the Dvorak Concerto with Antal
Dorati for RCA on 4 March 1951, the first of several inscriptions he
would make, competing only with himself for excitement and musical
sympathy. When asked by interviewer Pinchas Zukerman whom Milstein
regarded as the greatest conductor, Milstein unhesitatingly answered,
“Furtwaengler.” “Did you play the Beethoven with him,” queried
Zukerman. “No, the Dvorak,” came the curt, surprising reply.

With the brilliant restoration by Mark Obert-Thorn, the Dvorak more
than regains the original luster of the LP incarnation (LM 1147); it
now reveals opulent details of winds, horns, and harp, the internal
Slavonic dances which infiltrate Dvorak’s part writing and whose charms
Dorati is eager to elicit from the Minneapolis players. 
Milstein’s recordings of the non-concerto Mozart (29 March 1950)
bespeak a patrician sensibility, a serene but pointed sense of the
style, where the tone and often extremely fast vibrato hint at the
sensuality just under the surface. The Rondo becomes a coloratura opera
aria under Milstein’s lightning touch. Once the proud possessor a
lovely mint LP (LM 1064) of the Adagio and Rondo, I am most grateful
Mark Obert-Thorn forwarded me this Naxos incarnation. As for the
Glazounov Concerto (19 February 1949), Milstein has been its most
natural, magical advocate since he first played it for the composer in
1923. Milstein’s own performance of the Glazounov with William
Steinberg for the Capitol label (with the Pittsburgh Symphony) set the
standard for how the piece should sound. From the first entry, Milstein
drives the melodic tissue forward inexorably but passionately to its
pre-ordained conclusion. In its 78 rpm format, the Glazounov had the
Tchaikovsky Meditation, Op. 42 as a filler, an item I hope Naxos will
likewise restore, perhaps with the Tchaikovsky Concerto under Munch.

–Gary Lemco

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