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Beethoven, Brahms: Violin Concertos / Steinberg, Milstein

Release Date: 09/11/2001 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 67584   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenJohannes Brahms
Performer:  Nathan Milstein
Conductor:  William Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I don't get it. A few years ago, EMI released this exact coupling in its Full Dimensional Sound series, and here it is again, remastered yet again, sounding almost exactly the same except for an extra touch of hardness in the solo violin's upper registers in the Brahms. In other words, if you own that earlier release, you won't do better buying this one. Next issue: are the performances themselves really "Great Recordings of the Century"? Aside from the global observation that just about anything Milstein did qualifies for this appellation, they have much to recommend them. There's Milstein's superb musicianship in general, the gentle humor he brings to the Beethoven concerto's finale, the thoroughly Brahmsian virtue of Read more unobtrusive virtuosity that always serves the musical argument first and foremost, and the powerful concentration of thought in the first movements of both pieces (expressed not least in the use of Milstein's own imaginatively written cadenzas).

The mono sound relegates the orchestra to a supporting role and attenuates the contributions of trumpets and drums in the tuttis, though heaven knows Milstein's technical command can withstand the scrutiny. Still, he rerecorded both of these works in stereo only a few years later than these mid-1950s efforts, and in both cases the remakes offer superior sound and, in one admittedly marginal case at least, performance. To take a single example, Milstein consistently applies touches of portamento to his singing line in the slow movement of the Brahms, but he does it with more subtlety and discretion in the later recording. Tiny details like these favor the stereo version, though in the Beethoven there's actually very little to choose between the two. So if you don't own these recordings and can't find the various stereo performances, you won't go wrong buying this edition. And if you don't know Milstein's performances of this music at all, you certainly are missing something special. [11/4/2001]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Nathan Milstein (Violin)
Conductor:  William Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/10/1955 
Venue:  Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, PA 
Length: 39 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Nathan Milstein performs his own cadenzas. 
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Nathan Milstein (Violin)
Conductor:  William Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1953-54 
Venue:  Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, PA 
Length: 36 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Nathan Milstein performs his own cadenza. 

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