Milsten and Heifetz

April 21, 2014 at 06:17 PM · Hi All,

In the TV documentary The Art Of Violin by Bruno Monsaigneon, one of the interviewed (Perlman? I don't remember well) says Nathan Milstein in his search for perfection was in some ways better than Heifetz. What do you think on this matter? Was really Milsten better than Heifetz in some ways?


Replies (61)

April 21, 2014 at 07:29 PM · I guess that you mean techniqually, and he sure was! One example is in how he could make a cresendo last almost forever. It's unbelievable what bow control he had.

April 22, 2014 at 12:37 AM · I'm not a professional musician, nor am I (as a life-long amateur) at a virtuoso level. But I don't think Milstein was "better" than Heifetz. Different? Yes. The differences and attempts at ranking the greats has filled numerous discussion threads on this website. It is a futile effort.

Nathan Milstein, who could make the most difficult pieces in the literature sound as easy as Twinkle, once said about Heifetz that he (Heifetz) could do things that nobody else could do.

Today I listened to a couple of recordings I haven't listened to in a long, long time - the Nielsen and the Paganini Second concerti. The violinist was Yehudi Menuhin, recorded in the mid-1950's.

Menuhin was struggling all the way, and the performances are not up to the Heifetz or Milstein standards, or for the that matter the young Menuhin.

But for sheer heroic passion and drive, and an ability to project a unique almost operatic voice (almost like dramatic speech), the performances are unparallelled. One cannot imagine either Milstein or Heifetz giving thrilling performances like these.

Shouldn't we feel lucky that we have a Milstein AND a Heifetz AND a Menuhin? Don't each, in their own unique way, enable us to appreciate new and different aspects of the great (and even not-so-great) violin literature?

And isn't the real lesson here is to find one's own unique violin "voice," and to appreciate the unique voice of each violinist, rather than lining up violinists on some kind of celestial ranking?



April 22, 2014 at 09:23 AM · Oh dear, another "X is better than Y" thread. There was nothing perfect about Milstein. Guy's playing was as interesting and heartwarming as a dead, cold fish.

April 22, 2014 at 12:08 PM · Heifetz also recorded the complete Bach set. I have it. I also know that they had mutual respect and that in different ways Milstein said re both Heifetz and Ricci, that they could do certain things that he couldn't. Beyond that, I also find "X vs Y" debates rather a bore.

April 22, 2014 at 02:07 PM · Both were great artists with individual sound... Milstein was more reserved and less innovative than Heifetz... He played the old Russian, way, with less emphasis on the vibrato,with great purity of tone... Heifetz had more virtuosity and charisma... Milstein even commented about the extraordinary virtuosity of Heifetz and Kogan, and his particular affection for David Oistrach...

April 22, 2014 at 06:37 PM · One morning while flipping across the radio dial, I came across a recording of Milstein playing the entire Bach S&P. Three hours of sheer bliss. On the other hand, some of the YouTube videos of Heifetz make my jaw drop. There's no way to rank them - they're both amazing players. As are Oistrakh, Vengerov, Hahn, Myers, Ehnes... the list goes on and on. Let's just enjoy them all.

April 22, 2014 at 07:06 PM · I think the topic is interesting - its not really a 'is X better than Y' but what aspects of X are better than Y.

At this level the former is really a matter of opinion and depends on what your scale is. However, the latter is interesting if only human physique make some things easier than others. I've been digging into this a bit recently (qv Kogan's thumb topic) but only at this point to see how physique dictates violin playing style (this is most evident in the non-SR users, which includes both M&H). Applied here, the question is whether M's shorter arms and violin-stuck-to-chest method gave him any edge over Mr body-perfect :) . I really don't know but its worth a thought...

April 22, 2014 at 10:26 PM · OK, maybe I'm not so much bored as still tired out from the Tetzlaff discussion - and jealous that Yixi had the latz laff. ;-D

But since a number of good points have already been made above, I'm more interested in speculating about what would happen if Heifetz and Milstein squared off in a boxing match. Heifetz was a few inches taller and had a longer reach. He kept in shape with a lot of ping-pong and some tennis. He even dabbled in fencing! I'm not sure about Milstein's exercise routine. H. would be fast, and keep M. at bay with his jab. But M. seemed compact and tough. I bet he'd have good short jabs, body shots and hooks, if he could get in close. This might be an epic battle, like those of Frazier (M) and Ali (H)!

April 22, 2014 at 10:56 PM · To me, Milstein defined the first movement of the Beethoven. Heifetz was the great player, but did he define anything (other than the Hora Staccato)?

Mind you, there's no questioning his musicianship in the chamber music series he did with Piatigorsky, etc. (Even Primrose came up trumps for musicianship in that).

April 22, 2014 at 11:42 PM · Greetings,

for my taste Heifetz -defined- the following:

Bruch Scottish Fantasy

Vieuxtemps 5

Wieniawski 2

Elgar concerto

Bruch 2

Gruenberg Concerto

Roszas Concerto

Paginini Caprice 24

Sinding Suite

Numerits transcriptions but especially those from Porgy and Bess, Jeanie with brown hair, 3 oranges etch

Sibelius with Beecham

Ave Maria

Probably a lot more. A lot of his Bach is a little hard to take at times for the reasons John points out above. His Chaccone counts as definitive for me because it is fantastic as are so many others. I don't think there is such thing as a definitive Chacconne.

If I were to make out a list of definitive Milstein it would be more oriented towards baroque and classical repertoire. But this is misleading because Milstein was supreme in so many romantic works. There is one recording of the Dvorak concerto by him that is unmatched in insane fire, to my ears.



April 23, 2014 at 12:45 AM · Milstein was a great artist and an intelligent man. He himself did write, what differences Heifetz's musicianship from others. He writes that Heifetz did play with a great gesture and he also writes, that for his taste he prefers the more intimate and sublime style of playing. Its like Hollywood films compared to a french film about a love story. Heifetz was Hollywood!

On the side of Heifetz there were many virtuosos, like Menuhin, Szeryng, Fritz kreisler (maybe he is from the older generation, but still had amazing soundquality and technique) and also Milstein, Oistrakh and Kogan.

Musically I prefer all of them over Heifetz in most of the serious literature. But I know, that that is a very personal thing. Heifetz still was a great master, but I don't really get his artistic ideas, especially his tempi are often too fast I feel. Fast tempi work for pure virtuosic pieces, but not for concerti and pure music. To put it in other words: I miss nothing in Milsteins technique or musical abilities. When I listen to Heifetz and I know the piece well, I often wonder what he actually tries to convey. He was still a phenomenon. Especially his fiery temperament made him special as a player and his sound remarkable, but in my opinion also braught too much pathos into music. This especially doesn't work for philosophical music.

Lets also not forget about Zino Francescatti! He was such an amazing violinist and also a great musician, any recording of him is one of my favorites for that piece.

While we should not make some of those individuals down, we should not make one of them a "god", wich happens with Heifetz sometimes. If you only listen to his recordings, because you think, that he is the best, you will miss so much of great breathtaking music and very sublime expressions.

April 23, 2014 at 01:13 AM · Greetings,


ets also not forget about Zino Francescatti! He was such an amazing violinist and also a great musician, any recording of him is one of my favorites for that piece.'

Yes. The older I get the more I return to Francescatti before all other players. I hope his name never gets buried under the never ending debate about Russian players:)



April 23, 2014 at 01:49 AM · I had the good fortune to play for and listen to Mr. Milstein run a semester of masterclasses at Juilliard many years back. He was a wonderfully thoughtful musician always searching for more. He loved playing the violin and transmitted this love through his teaching.

April 23, 2014 at 10:47 AM · To be fair, some of these fast performances are early recordings, when there was pressure to fit a certain amount of music on to one side of disc.

Buri, I'm surprised you find Heifetz defining for the Sibelius, in view of the light brought to bear on it by Ginette Neveu, incorporated into later performances by Kyung-wha Chung and, by now, others.

My unfavourite interpretation of Beethoven Op 12 No 2 is Heifetz's.

April 23, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Buri:

Ditto on Francescatti. I heard him in performance only once - the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Chicago Symphony. Great performance.

And his recorded performances of so much of the literature are in a class by themselves. His recording of the Beethoven Concerto (1950, I think, with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra) is one of a kind, and is my personal favorite of a concerto that I consider one of the greatest artistic achievements of Western civilization.

And as for Heifetz vs. Milstein, we should all be such terrible violinists as they were... :)



April 23, 2014 at 01:58 PM · One teacher of mine spent a few weeks with Milstein, and was staggered at how much he knew. This was after being a pupil of Heifetz.

One thing about Milstein that pops out from time to time in his later Bach album is how he makes it sound not so much like Bach but more like violin playing. Sort of in the sense of "hey, look what I just figured out how to do." A friend gave a bit of background to that-- apparently when staying over at this guy's house, Milstein never had the violin out of his hands and was always fussing about, experimenting, and thinking about new ways to do things even while walking around in the living room.

April 23, 2014 at 02:12 PM · Hey, I heard Milstein live 4 or 5 times. The last was his very last performance in Chicago (when he was 80). It was a recital, and one of the pieces was the Bach Partita #2. It was such an unbelievable performance that there were moments during the Chaccone when you actually felt you were listening to the voice of Bach, not the performer. I'll never forget it.



April 23, 2014 at 05:55 PM · I ate french pastry's with Nathan Milstein and his pianist... What a wonderful man... He was then aged 69, and gave one of the most memorable recital ever... He played Geminiani sonata, Bach Partita 2 with a Chaconne at the "Everest", Brahms third sonata, 3 Paganini caprices and Wieniawski Polonaise in D and Sherzo Tarentella... Like a 20 years old !!! and many encores...I will never forget that recital...

April 23, 2014 at 10:07 PM · Back in 2007 the same subect came up in this thread:

Milstein or Heifetz?

Violinists: Recordings and Performances: who do you prefer?

From Chris Meyer

Posted July 23, 2007 at 07:11 PM

Which of these two legendary violinists do you prefer and why?

Before some of us - especially I- repeat ourselves, take a look at it...

April 24, 2014 at 12:12 AM · yes...but the answers are quite different... Stefen Brivati: you forgot Vieuxtemps 4 he plays it soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo well!!!!!!

April 24, 2014 at 12:42 AM · too many pastries......

But one of Auer's big things was having students play a lot of Vieuxtemps. There is a nice pile of forgotten works and exudes by Vieuxtemps that really deserve the light of day. Just occasionally I would like to hear his Tarantelle instead of the ubiquitous Wieniawski.



April 24, 2014 at 01:38 AM · But I see that even back then I wanted to see them fight! ;-D

April 24, 2014 at 12:50 PM · Heifetz vs Milstein boxing - what if one of them damaged a hand? No thanks!

On a more serious note - I recall reading somewhere that Milstein admired Heifetz as a violinist, but not as interpreter of great music. I think Rubinstein may have implied the same thing when he said (in the context of a piano trio) that he never had a disagreement with Feurmann, but had endless disagreements with Heifetz. I can on only speak for myself but when I want to listen to the great concertos, sonatas or solo Bach, I will choose, for instance, Milstein, Oistrakh, Suk, Hahn or Repin in preference to Heifetz. (And recently Francescatti, courtesy of Youtube). This doesn't mean that any of these are 'better' than Heifetz in any way - just personal preference. How amazing that we can listen to all of them - living, retired or dead - and we can learn so much from them.

April 24, 2014 at 02:28 PM · the good thing here is that I can improve my English: pastries!!!! By the way, speaking of Vieuxtemps, did anyone heard the live version of Szeryng playing number 4 during the 50's ? Fantastic!!! you have the complete version on youtube

All Ysaïe and Flesh students also played Vieuxtemps concerti... Alfred Dubois and Arthur Grumiaux both left an interesting recording

legacy in that sense...

April 25, 2014 at 06:12 AM · Sounds to me like Milstein let loose in public performances more than Heifetz did. Listen to his live versus his recording session Dvorak, for example. Ditto his Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, and Mozart. Aside from background noise there's not as much difference between session and live Heiftez releases (as long as they're from roughly the same period).

From the time I was a kid I was gobsmacked by Milstein's purity of tone, which has brought me many, many hours of pleasure. The sound of his playing was and is a great gift to me, and I'm so grateful to our old family friend, violinist Morton Block, who turned me on to him.

April 25, 2014 at 10:53 AM · Interesting point John.

Maybe someone from that situation might be able to shed some light on exactly what it meant to be `Russian ` as opposed to Ukranian. For example, the opening sentence of Milstein`s autobiography `From Russia to the West,` reads

`I was born in Odessa, a beautiful and gay city on the black sea, in the south of the Russian empire.`

Then later he writes

`The infamous pogroms that ran through the south of Russia at that time missed us. They hit the Jewish neighborhoods, on Moldavanka. But still, a cross was glued to our window.`

There is nothing written to suggest he felt he was a Ukranianliving in occupied territory . I have no idea how one should interpret this. Does it start to raise questions like ` I am Hawaiian (or Texan) rather than American?`



April 25, 2014 at 12:31 PM · Here for comparison is Zino Francescatti performing his impassioned version of the Vieuxtemps 4th concerto. The 1st movement cadenza is one of the most impressive and passionate outpourings of tone and technique ever to have been recorded.

April 25, 2014 at 01:24 PM · Milstein was a natural player... he played with great taste all the classicals. Some said, compared to Heifetz, that he did not have a big projecting sounds... This is false...Maybe at the end of his career, but at the top ,Milstein was "The ideal violinist" for most. In a memorial book written by her mother after her tragic death, Ginette Neveu was deeply impressed by the aristocratic way of playing of Milstein, saying to a group of friends after a recital of Milstein in Paris " what I have heard is not my style of playing, but it is simply perfect!!!" Henryk Szeryng had similar views about Milstein and when he was young, Milstein was a model for him...Heifetz inspired many for sure and changed many things on the concert circuit... But Mistein and Kreisler before, all were great models and very inspiring... One must absolutely listen to recordings of Milstein during the 1940's... He was at the top then... Unfortunately, he did not record as much as Heifetz... Milstein had so much virtuosity at the time, that he drove the public wild with his Tschakovski concerto...and he could play an entire Bach sonata has an encore and the public would react with same enthusiasm...

April 25, 2014 at 11:18 PM · Greetings,

I was present at Milsteins last performance of the Beethiven concerto. He was eighty something.

The sound was so ringing it filled the hall with easel Mich more so than many modern players really pressing the sound out on evahs.



April 25, 2014 at 11:50 PM · For me there is no question, since there is no Milstein's recording I adore from my very childhood through years up to now. And with Heifetz there is one, Introduction and Rondo-Capriccioso. It is so all-conquering and so beauty-of-life-concentrating that it doesn't loose its charm with time passing.

April 26, 2014 at 12:49 AM · He gave a very impressive performance of the Tschaïkovski in Montreal, and a Bach encore, just months before an injury of his arm that unfortunately put an end to his career...

April 26, 2014 at 08:43 PM · Greetings,

given the amount of time he spent in Britain ' British virtuouso' would be nice. perhaps if we all took turns , say 6 months per country, it would ease international tension.

people I have met from Georgia have always been adamant they are not Russian. Why is the same not true for Lithuania?

is it a question of resouces?


April 26, 2014 at 08:51 PM · Lithuanians would be even more adamant that they are not russian. But the question sounds strange because Milstein and Heifetz are not lithuanian and ukranian, they are both Jews. Or I don't understand what is the question.

April 27, 2014 at 07:17 AM · Marina - I'm a bit confused, perhaps you could clarify as your point could be misinterpreted.

Are you saying that a Jew can not have a nationality? That is if a person is born to Jewish parents in England they are not both Jewish and English?

April 27, 2014 at 08:31 AM · hmm, Oistrakh's father was a merchant.

Elise, I don't know :) when in former USSR we always had in mind of what nationality was our collegue or classmate (different from "genetic" russian). With ukranians or belorussians it was often uncertain (you could easily take them for russians), but with jews or armenians, for instance, or coreans - nobody could mix. There was a special point in our passports, sadly famous - "nationality". Sadly - because there were "good" and "bad" nationalities (jews were bad, of course, and they very often use opportunity to change this point to "russian" - it was possible, but sometimes it did not help and you were not admitted to some faculties in some high schools, phisics in Moscow and Leningrad university, for instance). It's a long story to tell.

I am not sure that I answered the question, but it still sounds very strange to a russian ear that Heifetz was a lithuanian. First he was a jew by blood, second he was a russian because studied in SPb and spoke russian.

April 27, 2014 at 01:39 PM · The "nationality" of Jews is an important question, but its the kind of question that one thinks about and discusses, not the kind one answers.

I enjoy Heifetz and Milstein equally, neither as much as Mutter. But its not fair ... she had the benefit of learning from them.

April 27, 2014 at 02:15 PM · As for me, I enjoy Hirshhorn :) with his Heifetz-like ability to make violin speak so that sometimes you are nearly able to differ words but - and this is way better than Heifetz - his warmness, his nervous and hearty sound and his never-ending bow... well, I better shut up )

April 27, 2014 at 02:35 PM · We had the opportunity in Quebec to have many jewish musicians and immigrants from Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union who arrived here during the 50,s and the 60's... We are only 6 million individual here, and these teachers in music now gave us a formidable knowledge... We have today top soloists over the world, and the Montreal symphony,had in the past great musical directors and conductors like Zubin Metha,Charles Dutoit, and now today Kent Nagano. The Montreal Symphony is considerd to be in the top ten...They just come back from Vienna and a very successful tour in Europe, made many many recordings...

I am proud of our inheritance from these couragous persons and highly educated musicians who choose Quebec and shared their precious knowledge in music with us...

Marina, I agree with you... some recordings of Hisrhorn unfortunately are only documents recorded by amateurs... but when the technical quality of the recordings are good, and you hear the real beauty of his sound, it is amazing. My uncle lived in Belgium at the time and had the immense privilege to hear a live recital of Phillipe... It is in the concert hall that you could really realize all the magic and beauty of his sound, in fact, sounds never heard before... I was very very young, but still remember... even haunted by this...

April 27, 2014 at 03:48 PM · [Marina - thank you for the explanation, it was obviously much more complex than I had imagined. However, if you told an jew born in the US that he was not American I think you could easily get into a fight. This is relevant personally: my mother is jewish - so I am by inheritance a jew, but I'm british by birth and I don't think anyone would question my origin nationally or culturally.

Sorry to veer from the topic but this is very interesting in terms of the cultural background of these artists.]

April 27, 2014 at 05:37 PM · If I might suggest that circumstances have changed and today's concept of nationality cannot be retroactively applied.

Jews who came from Eastern Europe in the early 1900's considered themselves Jews, not Poles or Russians (though they did often consider themselves 'Polish Jews' and 'Russian Jews'.)

There were many nationalities living side by side in Poland, Belarus, Ukraine etc. and the borders kept changing. For a long time there was no official country of Poland, for example, but Poles still spoke Polish, were usually Catholic, whether they lived under the Russian or Austrian Empires. This was true for Jews and many other groups in Eastern Europe at the time.

Now that many cultural boundaries are more fluid/not so rigid as they once were, and (outside of the situation in Ukraine at the moment), the political boundaries seem a little more stable, it could seem reasonable to see Heifetz as Lithuanian. I bet there are Jewish musicians in Vilnius who do think of themselves that way today.

Still, as a child in the early 1900's, Heifetz would have considered himself a Russian Jew and then later an American. Times change.

April 29, 2014 at 12:42 AM · I don't know, why people sometimes say, that everybody sounds the same today. On the top level there are quite big differences in playing style. Just compare Kavakos to Frank Peter Zimermann and you will find a very different use of portamenti. Also in violin competitions everybody has a different sound. The reason why it may seem that many violinists sound the same on recordings are the sound engeneers. There is a certain sound, wich is modern. Shiny in the upper registers and booming on the g string.

For me the old violinists, who played on gut and probably with a different setup than today had a much more balanced sound over the strings. But it could also be because of the old microfones, wich had a lower frequency range or different frequency curves.

To my ears Kreisler was the tone master, everything he played sounded special just because of his sound and vibrato. Milstein to me sounds very different but also recognisable, but more in faster passages, wich he was the king of their clarity. Heifetz to me sound in between those. Not as singing as Kreisler but with very fast vibrato and intense tone, technically ha was of course very skilled but to my ear I miss the direction when he plays fast, the context.

We are living in luxurious times, that we can compare those great artists with 2 clicks! I think getting too hard on them would be unfair. Everyone of them would blow our minds in concert. Especially because they tone their sound to the hall, not so much to a studio.

For a living example with an very intensed tone I would bring Gidon Kremer. I was fortunate to listen to him live in a good hall and I liked his sound much better than on recordings. With Victoria Mullova it was somehow the opposite. I heard her in the same hall and it was a quite timid sound she produced. Kremer came through in every piano passage aswell and his piano sound seemed to fill the hall and travel without losing the intensity.

I have heard Kavakos 3 times live until today from different distances. Sometimes from longer distance his sound was a little small aswell. His recordings and live videos on youtube are still much more balanced, if the orchestra is good.

I don't know what Kremer actually does, or if its his instrument, but regarding tone production he is one of a kind.

April 29, 2014 at 02:05 AM ·

Marc, glad to meet you. Hirshhorn's memorial site, I know, is now under construction, and rather soon we will have more recordings of him, including unknown before.

April 29, 2014 at 08:46 AM · Greetings,

there sometimes appears the reverse effect. the instance I am thinking of is Grumiaux. My teacher once told me that there was some quality in his playing that seemed to create wonderful results in the recording studio but that he sounded somewhat less impressive live. although the recordings quality is easy to verify the life aspect is a little harder....

I only heard him once right at the end of his career and he seemed to be struggling.

Simons point about clarity is another important aspect of Milsteins talent. he seemed to be endowed with unparalleled muscle fibers and tendons for raising and lifting the fingers with superhuman speed. Menuhin had this quality I think. the player who really has it in spades now is kavakos.

and yep, modern pears do sound uniquely different. How could anyone argue that Zimmerman et all don't have a unique sound and vibrato.



April 30, 2014 at 07:53 PM · About Grumiaux... I remember Staryk bashing him in a masterclass and saying he had never great success in America(which is totally false)... he was coming back from a visit to Grumiaux trying to exchange his Strad with the Rose Del Gesù and failed to do so...

There is a live recording of Grumiaux playing Bach Chaconne and other's with Clara Haskil ,Paganini number 4 proving without any doubt that Grumiaux was at the top... He sounded beautiful in the concert hall, never forced the tone... It was David Oistrach's favorite violinist and collegue...

April 30, 2014 at 09:27 PM · Just making a little point here not to offend anyone ... I like to judge a great musician, now we are speaking about their career as a whole, extended on many years... I never heard Heifetz live, but until the beginning of the 60,s, he always maintened a remarkable constance into his playing... Heard Oistrach many many times, and during the beginning of the 70,s, at the rehearsal, he played Tschaïkovski concerto perfectly, but had little minor problems during the concert, due to nervosity... Same with Misltein, when he was over 75, at the beginning of the Brahms, until the cadenza, he did not feel comfortable, but after, until the end, it was pure magic... Francescatti the same, Szeryng at the very end also was just a little out of the track, but played with magnificence and grandeur the Beethoven... Kogan also at the end was not as precise...Kreisler after 1938 and during the 40's... and I could go on and on...

May 1, 2014 at 12:34 AM · John,

I am afraid there is no need to promise )) I am sure I am far from being perfect with "the"s so it will work not depending on my wishes ))

I am totally unable to speak about anybody besides Hirshhorn, I am sorry. My generation of former-soviet violinists, those who started at late 70-s and after, was totally ignorant on (or about?) him, we were used to think that all greatness and fame of violin playing died with Oistrakh and there was nobody comparable (Kogan rather often played not so perfect as before), so when I heard Hirshhorn for the first time on youtube five years ago it was a complete shock. Now it is obvious that Hirshhorn was the last and one of the greatest "fruit" of Auer's tree, the sixth in famous "auer's gang" (Heifetz-Elman-Zimbalist-Milstein-Polyakin), descending his violin genealogy directly from Auer through professor Eidlin and his disciple Mikhail Vayman, 2nd laureat of the QE-1951 (after Kogan). When an other Eidlins pupil Boris Gutnikov played at Thaikovsky competition, Zimbalist (who was in the jury) came to congrat him and sayd: "young man, at last it happened to me to hear the(?) true petersburg sound" (Gutnikov took the first prize). Vayman's assistant who had been helping to train Hirshhorn for the QE-1967 (Alexander Fischer living now in Sweden) told me that this remark could absolutely be adressed to Hirshhorn too, so one who would like to realize what this famous sound sounded live, should go to Philippe's concert. There are some specific things in vibrato and especially detachE, certain secret providing directly from auer's hands which is now nearly forgotten, something concerning not the right hand but paradoxically the left. I only know three living petersburg violinists who understand what it is about (me personally I do not, I only know how they explane it but I am not able to do).

Exhausted, too much english writing for me today.

May 1, 2014 at 01:20 AM · the Gutnikov on YouTube is fantastic. Hope everyone takes a look.



May 1, 2014 at 07:34 PM · yes! May there be many more...

May 2, 2014 at 08:45 AM · While Andres is seeming absent at the topic after having started it, some more words about leningrad school of violin playing. In the 60-ths it was really a hotbed of great violinists (with Vayman as a head), but in a kind of shadow of Moscow. When I studied there in early 80ths, it was common to think that for a career one should leave for Moscow. Now, thanks to the internet, I have impression that this shadow has a chance to dissipate. Check the Vayman's Chaconne beside Gutnikov. It is of another kind, more intimate, a little bit heavy at the beginnig but later unrolling itself to a real poetry. Gutnikov had a fame of a "competition champion" (he brought three or four first prizes, including paris Long-Thibaud) and often was reproached for declining to "sport", Vayman was a lyric as a violinist, the chief and the maitre, very artistic teacher who could wake up almost anybody, a head of a chamber orchestra etc. They were married on sisters and therefore had a common nick of "Zhokhov brothers" )) And Hirshhorn... Hirshhorn was a generation younger and he was a comet. Or an explosion.

May 2, 2014 at 12:02 PM · Greetings,

well I@ve spent quite a lot of time listening to the Gutnikov recordings now and I thought the time well worth spending. But the overall feeling I ended up with was that he was , aside from the given that he is one of the elite, that he was sort of `not quite.` I mean his sound is great but somehow `not quite as deep as Oistrakhs.` His left hand technique is fabulous but not quite as good as Heifetz. He has passion and elegance combined but not quite as much as Milstein and so on. Hirschorn was something else, like Hassid.



May 6, 2014 at 04:54 PM · John, thank you )

Still everybody should listen to the Vaiman's Chaconne, it's really "my heart aches from his music" (not to mix with another Mikhail Vaiman, a young one)

May 8, 2014 at 07:19 PM · Well, if nobody can agree on who is better than whom, then any old rule of thumb will do.

Therefore: Milstein is one point better than Heifetz because "Milstein" has 8 letters, whereas "Heifetz" has only 7.



May 10, 2014 at 12:36 PM · yes, John - but you know that's only true more or less.

May 10, 2014 at 08:48 PM · Heifetz clearly stated that he was "born in Russia, debut in Russia at 7..." Let's not forget that Lithuania was part of the russian empire at that time (before the revolution), and the conservatory in Vilnius was fully integrated in the russian educational system. My guess is that most, if not all Jews born in Lithuania would consider themselves as Russian citizens....but Lithuanian (Litwak) Jews (or Galizianer for those native of Galitzia, etc..).

I have no problem calling Heifetz a Russian born (+/- jewish) American violinist

May 10, 2014 at 11:22 PM · A former teacher of mine, who played in the Pittsburgh Symphony and then the Philadelphia Orchestra from the 1950s until his retirement a few decades later, said that the key difference between Milstein and Heifetz was consistency. He said Milstein would be highly consistent from performance to performance of the same work over a multi-concert weekend, and in a recording session, he would be absolutely consistent with each repeat of the work. By contrast, Heifetz had good and bad nights -- he would always be, well, Heifetz, but there were definitely significant differences in performance quality from night to night.

May 11, 2014 at 07:17 PM · Lydia - so finally I can honestly say that I 'take after Heifetz'! :)

May 12, 2014 at 03:36 PM · Actually, Heifetz was born in Luthiermania, but he played everything so fast because he was Russian. (I can always be counted on for a sound post)



May 12, 2014 at 05:11 PM · I guess Heifetz missed 1 note as opposed to none on the bad night?

May 13, 2014 at 01:39 PM · We should all be as "inconsistent" in our work as Heifetz was in his.

May 13, 2014 at 05:57 PM · I know…I'd like to hear this Philly/Pittsburgh violinist play as 'inconsistent. '

May 15, 2014 at 07:53 PM · The "criticism" one heard most often about Heifetz during his lifetime (except when he was very young) was of course that his playing was "cold" - automatic, pre-set, machine-like, "perfect" (if you will), but decidedly "cold."

That is of course nonsense. What his playing was NOT was sentimental. The forcefulness one hears in his playing is, I think, passion, rather than sentimental emotion.

In the artistically rarefied atmosphere that Heifetz and Milstein lived and worked in, I don't think that "better" means very much. Aren't we lucky to have had two such masters of the instrument?

Yeah, I "prefer" one or the other on certain pieces or performances. But then I'll hear the other one play the same thing and hear something (technically and musically) that escaped me all this time and that is just thrilling.

Isn't there room for two of these guys, at the very least?



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