As Tully Potter rightly
says in his sleeve-note this issue is
instructive in giving us Milstein’s
first recorded thoughts in two concertos
that were far better known in their
early LP incarnations. The
Dvořák LP was with Steinberg for
Capitol. Here we have it with Dorati
in Minneapolis in 1951 and the Glazunov
with the RCA Victor Symphony under Steinberg
in 1949. The Glazunov enjoyed greater
popularity in the LP remake, once more
with Steinberg but this time
conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony.
addition to the Dorati and Steinberg-led
Dvořák there is an extant live
performance now on Music & Arts
with the Kölner Gürzenich Orchestra
conducted by Paul Kletzki dating from
September 1956 and the 1960s traversal
with the New Philharmonia and de Burgos
(1966 to be exact), one year
before the Pittsburgh Glazunov.
Confusing? Yes, but the long and short
of it is that we now have four examples
of Milstein’s Dvořák from a sixteen
year period in which he was pretty
much at his prime. The greatest differences
in Milstein’s performances of the concerto
were always matters of degree; the degree
of lyrical expansion in the opening
movement and the degree to which he
tightened or released the expressive
potential of the Adagio. Here he takes
somewhat more time over the opening
movement than with Steinberg – taking
the kind of tempo and the kind of inflections
that he made in the live Kletzki performance.
Those tonal piquancies and colouristic
devices were always within Milstein’s
sovereign command and the dancing lightness
of his finale here is as infectious
as any of his other performances.
The Glazunov is marvellously
fluent and aristocratic. His performance
was never as glamorously personalised
as Heifetz’s but the finale of this
1949 recording certainly brings out
the festive joy as few others have done.
Milstein plays dead centre of the note
and sweeps through the eighteen-minute
work with invincible élan; there
really is very little to choose between
his recordings of the work – one we
should remember he had played to the
admiring composer (in Petrograd, as
was, with the Persimfans orchestra).
Again he recorded the Glazunov with
de Burgos in London in 1966 (setting
down his interpretation pretty much
once a decade).
The remaining Mozart
pieces are more than mere makeweights.
Milstein’s Mozart could be on occasion
unengaged – neither he nor Heifetz particularly
excelled in the repertoire – but his
Adagio in E major is sweet and just
this side of cloying and the Rondo pert
transfers have been successfully managed
though there seems to be some kind of
ambient noise in the slow movement of
the Dvořák – is it noise suppression?
Try 1.30 into the movement. Otherwise
this is a judiciously chosen selection
of mid-period Milstein.
see also review
by Colin Clarke