Notes and Editorial Reviews
His vigorous, intensive tone; his unsentimental, straightforward playing; his boundless virtuosity: these are the trademarks of Nathan Milstein, a violin giant of the last century. This album features two Lucerne concert recordings from the 1950s, issued here for the first time, featuring the violin concertos of Felix Mendelssohn and Antonín Dvorák, displaying "Nathan the Great" at the height of his art. Milstein had a particular fondness for Dvorák's A minor concerto: in his performance of August 1955, conducted by Ernest Ansermet, the music is ablaze, everything is highly charged. The Mendelssohn concerto was another favorite which Milstein recorded several times. His Lucerne performance of August 1953 alongside kindred spirit Igor Markevitch seems unusual even today. Milstein's tone is piercingly intensive, relentless, unsentimental and yet consumed with grief: high-octane music-making. Added to that are fast tempi, a sinewy tone and razor-sharp accuracy in the realization of filigree figurations. All this seems positively modern. But for exactly that reason Milstein met with a sense of disconcertment from certain contemporaries. Although considered "capable of magical things upon a violin", his playing was also, at times, regarded as overly cool. Milstein performed at the Lucerne Festival from 1949 until 1966.