March 25, 2009 at 10:44 PM
I`m not entering the competition but I do want to pass on my kudos for a very imaginative challenge. It might wake one or two people up who have fallen into the fashionable habit of Menuhin bashing. I think Perlman made a very significant remark on `the Art of violin` when he suggested that when Menuhin was on form there was no one better. I think he meant it. Menuhin on form was objectively better than anyone ever in certain areas. One can see hints of this in the DVD of the Beethoven concerto although he was quite old- watch his left hand in the cadenza. After that it is simple a question of sound preference.
I love most of todays players and would certainly never denigrate what they do and the sacrifices they have made to get there but put on an old recording of Menhuin in the same repertoire and they often sound dulll and flaccid inspite of the awesome chops they can display. Somehow they just lack the samer burning life force. I have actually seen Menuhin botch and botch again the Berg violin cocnerto while the packed hall gritted its teeth and then he just played one note and it was like a benediction, a present from God. The whole hall just let out a collective sigh of thanks for that revelation.
Many theories have been presented as to why he had so much trouble with his palying as time went by. They are all good and probably somewhat true but I feel it differently. I think that whereas most great violinists play within their limitations (which are huge compared to the rest of us) Menuhin deliberately searched for the most extreme aspect of human experience and then tried to distill it back down to the normal human rtange. Such an approach is truly demanding and dangerous and he paid a price. Similar players have not survived for long- Hassid springs to mind. Player s such as Milstein on the other hand just let us glimpse the demon as an extension of their art. (Listen to his recording of the Dvorak concerto and you can hear it escaping to a degree that is not usually present in his art)
For what its worth the Menuhin recordings will remain a central part of my collection for all time and for the naysayers I say `Go listen some more. Use your heart as well as your ears; your feelings as well as your critical faculties because at the end of the day, only all of you can possibly hope to begin appreciating what Menuhin had to offer.
For me, Menuhin's recording of the Elgar Concerto is nothing short of a miracle.
Thank you, Buri, for saying something good about Menuhin. I enjoy his performances. The one time I heard him play solo violin in concert was a great experience. He was supposed to conduct, but it snowed, and most of the orchestral musicians showed up late or not at all. He walked onstage carrying his violin, and told the audience that since most of the orchestra was not there, he would play something on his violin for us. He played Bach's Chaconne, and he was absolutely fantastic.
The violinists of the immediate past were more interesting to listen to and stirred up more emotions than the wunderkind virtuosos of today. What we hear now on the concert stage are automatons. Heard one, you've heard them all.
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