LABELS: EMI Classic Archive
WORKS: Songs & arias by Falla, Montsalvatge, Schubert, Donizetti, Mozart
PERFORMER: with Gerald Moore, Félix Lavilla (piano); RTF National Orchestra/Eugen Jochum, ORTF PO/Serge Baudo, etc
CATALOGUE NO: DVA 4 90118 9
Nathan Milstein was primarily a lyrical violinist: in Mozart’s Adagio, K261, from 1957 he spins an elegant line over seven minutes, mirrored by the unfussy direction – a single shot which slowly travels and zooms in on his impassive face. Ten years later, the French give him more restless camerawork in two movements from Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, and Bach’s D minor Chaconne, where his phrasing makes every note count, even if some of the multiple stops are coarse.
A pity that we get only a movement each from the Mozart A major and Brahms concertos – the whole DVD ends up feeling very bitty. Giulini is better served, with 1964 recordings of the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures, Mozart 40 and excerpts from Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat. His gestures and facial expressions are almost operatic at times – with wild staring eyes in ‘Gnomus’, and clenched fists to emphasise the rhythms in the ‘Miller’s Dance’. In the Mozart, his long arms, coupled with his low beat, reminded me of Furtwängler more than once – and how instructive to see him beat the outer sections of the minuet in three, and the trio in one. That’s something you could only guess from a sound recording, as are the frenetic podium contortions of Cantelli, in a short Rossini rehearsal extract from 1950.
The 25-year-old Berganza is a little nervous, but has real personality and charm in Falla’s Seven Popular Spanish Songs. Four years later, she has achieved the self-confident poise (and glamour) of a mature artist, though the quality of the picture and lip-synch in the Spanish numbers is poor. Even so, both there and in two of Cherubino’s arias the expressiveness of her whole face and body shines out.
Three years after that, she’s much more grande dame – a fascinating visual progression. Four bonus singers – Fischer-Dieskau, Patzak, Hotter and Ludwig – are all captured around 1960 (Lieder on national television – imagine!), with Ludwig especially radiant in Strauss, and Hotter ramrod-straight in Schumann. Martin Cotton