WORKS: Sonatas for Solo Violin in G minor, BWV 1001 & in C, BWV 1005; Partita in D minor, BWV 1004
PERFORMER: Nathan Milstein (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: C 400 951 ADD mono
The Salzburg Festival, until recently one of the most conservative, has recently twigged that Austrian Radio’s tapes of past concerts provide a rich source of archive recordings. A new series of ‘old’ performances is now being issued as the ‘Festival Documents edition of great artistic events of the past’. This live performance of Milstein dates from 1957. It’s a recording of an all-Bach concert – unusual programming for the time, when ‘lollipop’ selections were more common than concerts devoted to a single composer. Considering the austerity of the music, the audience is remarkably quiet, although there is the odd ill-placed cough and quite a bit of audience ‘atmosphere’.
However, for Milstein fans and collectors of great violin playing, let not one cough deter you from sampling this disc. Milstein would have been in his early fifties and throughout the performance the strength and virility of the playing are extraordinary, if occasionally remorseless. The fast movements, including an encore of the opening movement of the E major Partita (even before the applause has subsided), are breathtaking examples of breezy articulation, even if the opening of the C major Sonata is uncharacteristically nervous. The Chaconne receives particularly full-blooded attention. Annette Morreau