Menuhin thoughts please.

June 4, 2005 at 05:40 AM · Give me your honest thoughs on Yehudi Menuhin.

Replies (65)

June 4, 2005 at 12:06 PM · Truly one of the very best of the 20th century. The one caveat is that as he got older, his bowing technique self-destructed, so his later live performances (I saw one) were not that good. But many of his earlier recordings were sensational (e.g., solo Bach, Mozart concerti).

June 4, 2005 at 01:46 PM · Hey,

Menuhin is truely one of my favorite violinists (if not my favorite) amongst other violinists including Kogan, Heifetz, Rabin, Ricci etc...

It's true that Menuhin's bow arm deteriorated in later life however his youthful recordings are IMO absolutely fabulous. He had such an interesting and individual sound, and a technique equal to Heifetz. My favorite recordings of the Young Menuhin would have to be his 1934 Paganini Violin Concerto No 1 with the Paris Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Monteux - recorded amazingly in one take. This really is a testament to his fabulous and effortless technique as a young prodigy. Other fabulous recordings include:

1. 1938 Schumann Violin Concerto - absolutely fabulous

2. 1933 - Lalo Symphony Espagnole - Paris Sym Orch with Enescu.

3. All young Menuhin's encores - especially the 1934 Bazzini Dance of the Goblins!

4. 1934 - Dvorak - critics have said that the interpretation is kind of bland but I disagree

There are so many other fantastic recordings of Menuhin - I have nearly all of what he recorded as a young man (and less of what he recorded as an old man). Menuhin's bow arm problems started IMO in the 40's, where his sound was still very warm but lacked the incredible security and boldness of the 1930's prodigy recordings. By 1950 Menuhin's sound had already unravelled and he never really played consistenly well again. Many recordings of his from the 1950's have a very nasal / forced like tone and I prefer his more relaxed sound of the 60's than the 50's.

Many violinists ponder why Menuhin's bow arm unravelled the way it did - there are so many theories - some think it was the overwork in the war, some think it was the loss of innocence and the realisation that he didn't know what he did - he just did it, some blame it on his disasterous first marraige with Nola, and others link it to some sort of muscular problem developed from a false technique (which happened to work so well in his youth but then had it's consequences).

I guess the best thing to do is just to appreciate Menuhin for who he was, a prodigy, an incredible musician, a humanitarian and a wonderful man who did so very much for the world of violin and music in general.

Cheers,

Adam

June 4, 2005 at 02:17 PM · I'm privileged to have heard/seen Menuhin in live performance many times. His way of digging deep into his emotions and sending them out into the hall was something to cherish as a memory for the rest of one's life. When people say that his bow technique lessened in later life, I understand what they are referring to, but I think that's not actually what happened.....In his later performances the bow would sometimes jump off the string at a certain point, as if he had gotten an electric shock. But his ability to do all sorts of marvelous strokes, expressive nuances and changes of timbre was superb! In my view his level of bow technique was tremendous, even in his later years. The problem was that some pain or physical problem caused disturbances in his bowing.

June 4, 2005 at 04:09 PM · to me, menuhin the violinist was a wonder of nature. his musical highlights are many: his concert premieres in new york and berlin, the first sonatas & partitas set, elgar berg schumann paganini beethoven concerti + his short pieces, the bartok solo sonata, duets with hephzibah and shankar, founding stoke d'abernon, and that's just for starters.

menuhin the humanitarian was on a par with gandhi and martin luther king. he took a lot of flack from the jewish community for his concerts in germany after the war. he had every right to never want to perform in germany again but he rose above politics to make a human statement: beethoven concerto in germany with an orchestra and conductor that slaved under the nazis. dangerous ground for anyone to walk on at a time when you could easily be assassinated for saying too much.

i know the rolling stones are credited with championing world music in the west, but menuhin did it first with shankar.

menuhin the man was much more complicated: his family life left much to be desired and he was forced to be a puppet for his mother's own selfish ambition. i think he subjugated his spirit rather than risk a full scale power struggle with his mother and that strain of constantly riding the tiger's tail at home showed up physically in his body and violin playing, leading to a deterioration of his musical powers. you'd have to watch a video of menuhin and his sisters speaking of growing up in their home and also see menuhin with his second wife to understand what i mean. it's amazing how much of a pushover he was. his second wife diana was a bully to him and he ate it up like candy. maybe she reminded him of dear old mother...?

for me, his neilsen concerto is a personal favourite. his technique is always on the edge. i won't say out of tune, i'll just say he plays a LOT of microtones. it feels like a really dangerous roller coaster ride. not exhilerating, but disturbing. the bowing is whiny and nauseous. you feel queasy and unsure more than glad when it's over. but the concerto itself is disturbing and menuhin brought the neurotic edge to the surface in a way that more technical players rarely do (the exception is cho liang lin who recorded the best neilsen ever in the early 90s).

June 4, 2005 at 05:36 PM · I think he was a good violinist but certainly I think mainy people played better than him who did not have half of his career. I feel a few artists like him didn't know when to really hang it up and do something else like teach or conduct. His intonation really was never one of his strong points, undeniably he was a very original musician and should be remembered for his early recordings. I think he made a nice recording of the Bach Chaconne, that is one of the best recordings I've heard of him. My father heard him in concert when he was older and described to me how there were these little moments in his performance where he would have these flashes of brilliance and revert back to his playing of his youth but most of the time his bow was bouncing around and scratching during the concert.

June 4, 2005 at 05:53 PM · "for me, his neilsen concerto is a personal favourite. his technique is always on the edge. i won't say out of tune, i'll just say he plays a LOT of microtones. it feels like a really dangerous roller coaster ride. not exhilerating, but disturbing. the bowing is whiny and nauseous. you feel queasy and unsure more than glad when it's over. but the concerto itself is disturbing and menuhin brought the neurotic edge to the surface in a way that more technical players rarely do (the exception is cho liang lin who recorded the best neilsen ever in the early 90s)."

I think he liked the way microtunes were used in Indian music and he tried to use that in western violinworks as well and that´s a challenge indeed. Apart from the Avantgarde works the Nielsen Concerto may be the best western concerto to try that.

June 4, 2005 at 07:35 PM · Menuhin is certainly an interesting player to listen to, especially his younger recordings. My only pripe with him is his vibrato. Something is definitely weird with it. After watching "The Art of the Violin", where he plays the Mendelssohn right before the cadenza, the vibrato is an odd combo of wrist, finger, and hand. I have no clue how he did it. I didn't really care for it. I don't really like his Bach Sonatas and Partitas. They're too schmaltzy for my tastes. I much prefer Milstein. But there is no denying that Menuhin was a philosophical genius of the violin. He was one of the few players that truly understood what he was doing. I like to believe that his contact with the Eastern cultures led him on a quest to find an inner zen, but that's just the romantic notions of a crazy violinist.

June 4, 2005 at 09:28 PM · I think the fact that he was so philosophical was one of his problems. Of course one should analyze and interpret and think out how you're gonna play something but just play it and don't philosophize about it. People say he was a philosopher of the violin but when I listen, it doesn't sound good so what good does that do?

June 4, 2005 at 11:48 PM · That's a good question Enosh. I don't really think he had a technical understanding of the violin he played so naturally and instinctively. There's a famous story when Menuhin played for Ysaye and he asked Menuhin after he had played some virtuosic piece to play a G-major arpeggio. Menuhin wasn't able to do it. As far as his drop off in level I think it was just due to practicing less nothing else really.

June 5, 2005 at 01:10 AM · Granted sometimes his playing isn't the most technically accurate, but for me he is definitely the most creative and original player. He is able to make sounds on his violin that elicit so much emotion and capture the exact mood of the piece he is playing. For example, take his Beethoven concerto recording with Furtwangler. After the second entrance of the opening violin solo theme (around 11 minutes into the 1st movement), there is something about his vibrato and slides that capture the mystery and sadness of this section like no other recording. Another favorite recording of mine is the second movement of his Bruch with Susskind. I think instead of always trying to make a beautiful clean sound he tried to use his violin to create effects that communicate the emotion of the piece. Sometimes the results do not please the ear, but sometimes they are staggering.

June 5, 2005 at 03:08 AM · Nate, I just can't believe that story, unless it happened when he was a little kid maybe.

There are plenty of great players who'd be at a loss to play a Gmaj arpeggio, but not any mature ones who'd been through any classical training. He would have eventually picked it up, along with all the rest.

You wouldn't dislike a particular jazz violinist because he didn't sound classical, or an early 20th cent. player because of those peculiarities. We should appreciate players on their own terms, not what we'd like them to do instead. In the same way you appreciate your violin for what it is, not how you'd like it to be. Personally a late Menhuin performance consisting of flashes of brilliance interspersed with little disturbances (?) could easily be more fascinating to me than someone's 'brilliant' performance.

I missed seeing him play in the 80s with the Cincinnati Orchestra. I was in town day of but would have had no way to get back home if I'd stuck around. It helps to think it was probably sold out anyway :)

June 5, 2005 at 02:47 AM · I think one thing those who are quick to condemn Menuhin overlook is that for many, many years he was effectively the public face of violin. To many non-violinists he was the voice of the violin playing world. I don't think there's any denying he fulfilled that role brilliantly. His urbane demeanour and media-friendly approach were, I think, responsible for most of the positive PR the violin received during his time with us, at least certainly after all the other greats had retired or passed away.

I'd venture to suggest that in my age group (ancient, i.e. more than 40 less than 100), while we may have heard others playing, he was the first violinist we ever heard speak. I'm even more certan that this is true of the non-violin playing public in the aforementioned older than rocks, younger than dirt age group.

It's a role I'd suggest that is pretty much played these days by Perlman. It's not a role any of us should ever under-estimate.

Neil

June 5, 2005 at 03:06 AM · True Neil. Remember Archie mangling his name on All in the Family?

June 5, 2005 at 03:34 AM · Menuhin couldn't play a four octave A major arpeggio upon Ysaye's request

June 5, 2005 at 04:30 AM · That's what I meant Adam, I thought it was g major. That is a well known story about Menuhin.

June 5, 2005 at 05:31 AM · My impression is that Menuhin essentially destroyed himself physically performing over 500 full length concerts during and especially after the war, playing three complete concertos at a stretch. Combined with his extreme emotional agony over the war and its aftermath, I think he never really recovered musically or physically. I haven't heard anyone mention Menuhin's House of Music in England (?). I have the book somewhere that describes it -- a home for precocious musical children to study and play. I think he did have a heart for others, although he never really knew how to give that heart to his own children. A prodigy's upbringing is seldom normal, though. The person rarely grows as precipitously as the talent, and a natural maturity does not have a chance to unfold.

June 5, 2005 at 05:35 AM · Greetings,

Yes it is quite a well known story and taught Menuhin that he has to practice scales which he got around to later on in life. This is what Menuhin says about it in his autobiography:

"Ysaye's house stood on a tree lined boulevard in the Upper Town. We rang; time passed; finally a young lady, Ysaye's second wife, appeared wearing a dressing gown. Although her apparel was, goodness knows, perfectly appropriate at nine or ten in the morning, it struck me as dissolute, for I had never opened my eyes upon a woman who wasn't already dressed and working. She led us up two flights to a large room where, amid scores strewn everywhere and overstuffed furniture, Ysaye greeted us from an armchair; still an imposing bulk, but old, ailing, decayed, chained to his chair by (as I afterward learned) a diabetically gangrenous foot. The Guarnerius lay on a table beside him. After Imma had removed my coat, I played at his request the first movement of the Symphonie Espagnole (this was the first piece Persinger had ever heard him play). He, in turn, pizzicatoed chords, and so deftly as to create the illusion of an orchestral accompaniment, pausing only to watch my hands more closely. "You have made me happy, little boy, very happy indeed," he said. If only he had then dismissed me! For me, the performance had been less an audition than homage offered to a venerable king, terrifying in his obesity, remote, laden with age and honor. I had executed a brilliant passage and received his benediction. I had been faithful to Persinger. Now I could go, scot-free. Imagine then my surprise to hear him request that I play an A major arpeggio in four octaves! I groped all over the fingerboard like a blind mouse. "You would do well, Yehudi,' he said laconically, "to practice scales and arpeggios.""

Menuhin then continues:

"If it (his technique) was unorthodox, my development as a violinist was nonetheless valid. Mine was an inspired way, shown to me by inspired teachers, not mastery of scales and arpeggios; it was a recognition of greatness and response to it"

Some very interesting views indeed

Cheers,

Adam

June 5, 2005 at 07:23 AM · Now, before anybody jumps on it and imagines Yehudi had problems and furthermore that they were because he didn't practice scales and arpeggios, plenty of lousy players practice their scales and apreggios every day. He didn't need no stinkin arpeggios. Maybe you don't either?

June 5, 2005 at 01:57 PM · Jim Miller raises an important issue:

When we benefit from practicing arpeggios, what is taking place? The more we consider this, the more we see that there is no magic power in the repetition of the arpeggio itself. The value of it comes from having technical goals and training ourselves to meet them. One of many goals might be to have every shift arrival be beautifully in tune. The arpeggio is merely a *convenient vehicle* for this study because it has lots of shifting. In my personal practicing, and in my teaching I do, indeed use lots of traditional study books, such as Carl Flesch Scale System, Kreutzer Etudes, Wieniawski Caprices etc., but I don't imagine, nor do I want my students to imagine, that there is much value in the mere getting through this material. Many things that one might gain from studying Kreutzer #8 might also be gained by studying the Bach g minor Presto. The g minor Presto has the additional *technical* advantage of more intensely *inspiring a fervor* to play a particular note with beautiful pitch, tone and stroke...because the rewards of doing so are often felt as being greater than the rewards of a gorgeous Kreutzer #8 performance! I think that too much is made of the famous Ysaye/Menuhin anecdote. Young Menuhin's embarrasment was more about organizing and naming note patterns than it was about lacking technical skill. It might easily have, instead, unfolded like this: Ysaye asks for a diminished seventh arpeggio...Menuhin searches "like a blind mouse"...Ysaye then asks for the arpeggio on the first page of Lalo...Menuhin plays a diminished seventh arpeggio flawlessly!

June 5, 2005 at 02:02 PM · Hmmm... good question Jim. I think there was a similar story to that, that someone posted on this site a while ago. Heifetz was teaching a masterclass, and a student( I think was the future wife of Leonid Kogan) was going to play the Brahms concerto, and right before the entrance of the violin solo, Heifetz asked her to play a 3 octave d minor arpeggio, and she wasn't able to do it.

I often wonder about the old generation of violinists, if they really ever practiced scales and arpeggios, or went through the standard Kreutzer, Rode, Dont, and even Secvik exercises. It seems like they used a more natural, yet unorthodox approach to gaining technique on the the violin. Probably of getting technique from pieces, rather than studies.

As for the original post, I think Menuhin is one of the greatest violinists in history. His Beethoven with Furtwangler, Mozart concerti, Bartok concerti, Bruch, etc., are some of my favorites to listen to.

June 5, 2005 at 03:31 PM · I have a recording of Menuhin playing the Spring and Kreutzer Sonatas by Beethoven that I don't really like. He doesn't really pull a very good quality of sound from his instrument. It most likely has to do with his bow arm technique fading in his later recordings, as previously posted by others.

June 5, 2005 at 05:03 PM · I think Menuhin was alot like Rabin, both were true prodigies that lost the magic when they got older, listening to the young menuhin recordings reveals to me an exceptional talent. I mean look at the video clip on the art of violin with menuhin as a child, I was amazed.

When he got older even in his 20s and 30s his bowing got really weak and so did the intonation, I personally think it is a result of nerves. He even says things in some of his books like "my early recordings hold up well even today".

A few other things, Menuhin was a great warm and friendly man, a great teacher and he did great things for alot of people. I love his slides and I think he has a fine and eloquent vibrato and I think its safe to say he was influenced by Kreisler.

He also had an awesome taste in violins, his tone was always exceptional and he had a great sence of timing and great musicality, I like his tempos and musicality, its just I dont like how he executes them.

These are just my opinions though...

June 5, 2005 at 06:06 PM · I just like to add in the scale division...

I have several interviews with Menuhin where he speaks higly of practising them and he apperently took Ysaye's advice to practise them to heart.

And Mrs Kogan-Giles released her own scale system.

The only violinist of fame that didn't practise scales in a mature age was Milstein that had perfected them at an early age. His teacher Stolyarsky used the Sevcek methode and was in particular fond of scales, according to Igor Oistrakh.

Milstein was a rare talent of the violin, so don't try it at home :)

June 6, 2005 at 02:12 AM · "After watching "The Art of the Violin", where he plays the Mendelssohn right before the cadenza, the vibrato is an odd combo of wrist, finger, and hand. I have no clue how he did it." (from an early post)

That was the first thing I noticed about him. It's amazing- I could see vibrations in all three planes. He didn't have the lengthy formal training that many violinists got. His technique was never "textbook"- he definitely had to figure out what would work for him. As he got older, the started to get little habits or "twitches" like the bow hops and the vibrato, but the heart and soul of his playing was never compromised. I love a lot of players today and many of them play as accurately as him, but I think that his sound was more descriptive than a poem by Pablo Neruda. I was never lost as to what he wanted to say with a piece of music unless, of course, that is the mood he wanted portray. I think he's one of the most amazing, kind, and talented men of the 20th century.

June 6, 2005 at 01:23 PM · Well, i listened to his great violin concertos three cd set, and his mendelssohn was,i wouldnt say awful, but i would say it was pretty bad. Lots of notes out of tune, and not clear.

June 6, 2005 at 02:42 PM · Since everyone has been bashing him here, I'll put in my two cents to say that Yehudi Menuhin was one of the greatest violinists that ever lived. His musicality bore right into your heart with whatever he played. There is something that can't really be described when he is playing. Its more then passion etc. It is way beyond that. I can't explain it, but I think Gitlis said it when he said Menuhin was the angel that came down from heaven to play the violin.

June 6, 2005 at 03:29 PM · I agree with Josh. Being a musician shouldn't always be about being the best technician. Often, it's about linking well with audiences. Perhaps that's why it isn't always the case that international competition laureates go on to establish themselves as solo artists, nor that solo artists are necessarily international competition laureates.

There is a deeper level of communication that comes with every great musician. I am convinced Menuhin had that in abundance.

June 7, 2005 at 08:37 AM · I listened to Menuhin on a bad day once, and he certainly made me feel better. His shaky bowing and sharp notes helped me realise that even the famous people aren't perfect, which was encouraging. He played a couple of notes almost a half-step sharp.

I have only one DVD of him, and this is my only experience listening to his playing. I really think I didn't hear the best of him on this DVD, so I am not making a sweeping statement about his playing. Just that this particualr DVD wasn't the best.

June 7, 2005 at 08:42 AM · As a young man - Menuhin's playing was perfect - listen to his 1934 Paganini 1 with the PSO under Monteux - always makes me depressed!

June 7, 2005 at 10:22 AM · I can never pronounce his name correctly, so I try not to talk about him in public...:)

Sals,

JW

June 7, 2005 at 12:28 PM · Jennifer -- Men-you-in.

June 8, 2005 at 12:14 AM · Thats no way to speak to a lady!

Men-yu-hin

whatever, the guy could sure play as a child, but like Nate said, his downfall in technique was probably due to the lack of 5-6 hours of practice which he reportedly did in his youth. And anybody who thinks that Paganini never practiced, yeah right!!

June 8, 2005 at 08:06 PM · John -- in fact, his downfall was probably not due to lack of practice as a child. Just after his death, there was an interesting article in Commentary magazine about his technique problems. The gist was that he learned bowing from Persinger, who learned it from Ysaye, whose technique was also faulty and self-destructed as he got older.

June 8, 2005 at 08:56 PM · It is my understanding that Ysaye's technique fell apart because of a physical condition he had, not due to a lack of ability or any unconventional playing method.

June 8, 2005 at 09:55 PM · You should read the article. What is the source for your understanding?

June 8, 2005 at 10:07 PM · Ysaye's whole body self-destructed as he got older; he was ravaged by diabetes which surely affected far more than his violin technique.

June 8, 2005 at 10:51 PM · Tom, I meant that he practiced 5-6 hours a day as a child, but did not sustain that throughout his life. His 'faulty' bowing was probably too unorthodox to remain consistent when he didnt practice as much. This is the problem that I had until my teacher changed my bowing method.

June 9, 2005 at 12:39 AM · The source of my understanding was a biographical book written by Eugene Ysaye's son.

June 9, 2005 at 05:02 PM · Tom Holzman wrote:

"there was an interesting article in Commentary magazine about his technique problems. The gist was that he learned bowing from Persinger, who learned it from Ysaye, whose technique was also faulty and self-destructed as he got older."

Sometimes something very untrue, very foolish and very slanderous to some person or people is proclaimed by someone in print. I would imagine that you wouldn't disagree with that. I believe that this is exactly the case with the Commentary article to which you refer. Ysaye's diabetes and general physical deterioration is to blame, not a faulty technique! Of all people in the history of the world, Ysaye would be the last one to whom a faulty bow technique could be attributed. I studied with three students of Ysaye: Persinger, Gingold and Milstein. I assure you that they each had a spectacular bow arm. Each praised Ysaye's bow technique with the greatest admiration. Persinger once picked up the cheap fiddle I was playing at the time, and with caressing movements of his bow, somehow drew an unbelievably warm and gorgeous tone from it. Persinger suffered, in his last years, (when I studied Sonatas with him for one year) from arthritis and cancer. These can put a crimp in one's playing! Ysaye's diabetes was advanced to the point of neccesitating a leg amputation! Neither Ysaye nor Persinger had any deficit in their understanding and knowledge of the art of the bow. Who was the genius who wrote the Commentary article, that thought himself qualified to pass judgement on these great artists?? Much harm can be done with false words. I believe this was the case with the Commentary article.

June 9, 2005 at 03:35 PM · Thanks for the information on Ysaye.

June 9, 2005 at 06:04 PM · Still...All of us, Let's admit this...we are not even near close as old virtuosos like, Kreisler, Ysaye, Menuhin, Of course, The greatest of all time...Heifetz!

So, let's be humble and study them with honor and respect....they went through sad gray times...World War1 & W.W.2...(Killing fields)

I think, Menuhin was one of the greatest violinists of 20th Century,eventhough he went through long hard time when he got his arm problem(by the way,his great overcoming evidence!)that no one could darely stand up with such handicap on the stage! Can you?

That made him a great person...

Stand up and fight with obstacles...!!!

June 9, 2005 at 06:11 PM · Menuhin,...was a brave man...^^

and a Winner at last....

History is written.

June 12, 2005 at 04:01 AM · In my opinion, Ysaye was one of the most heartfelt violinists I've heard, just judging from his later recordings. I am sure he was even better in his prime. Oliver is very correct, according to Ysaye's son (who is probably a pretty reliable source!) that his problems later in life were only due to illness, not unorthodox or poor technique.

June 13, 2005 at 01:45 AM · Brian,

Menuhin's best recording of the Mendelssohn Concerto was in 1938 - flawless technique and an absolutely ravishing tone.

Adam

June 13, 2005 at 08:15 AM · Menuhin's best work was early on. Try to get his

recordings from the 30's. He let his technique

deteriorate as he got older. Some guys can take the grind, others can't. I don't blame them; it's a hard road and it takes unflinching dedication to stay at the top in the world of the violin. I don't know, but I suspect, that Yehudi's practice regimen was

not as strict as it was in his younger days.

June 14, 2005 at 09:44 PM · Menuhin was a left-hander who played right-handed better than most right-handers.

...and that's the *real* reason his bowing deteriorated... j/k :)

.Mosheh.

June 15, 2005 at 05:02 AM · I recently bought 'the art of violin' dvd... Goodness me how much violinist have changed since the greats. Every single person had their own sound. i must say i really enjoyed milsteins playing, and oistrakhs as well. Oistrakh is my fav violinist anyway. OOOO they had a bit of footage of menuhin and oistrakh playing the bach double, amazing. i've had the dvd about two days now and the thing that stands out for me is the very last shot thing with menuhin. Wow! 1972 footage of him playing the end of the chaconne starting from the d major section i think. Certainly a man that had the gift of music. There was so much warmth and beauty in his playing. I've watched it atleast ten times now. I love his vibrato in it. It's this soft fluttering kinda of sound. It seriously reminds me of butterly wings. dorky i know but that's what i hear in his vibrato. anyway i'm going to watch it again!

June 15, 2005 at 04:13 PM · Hi,

what YM means to me:

  • Inspiring violinist
  • Inspiring violist YES!!!!
  • World citizen
  • His recording of the Beethoven concerto was what I kept wanting to hear as a toddler
  • Great musician
  • Great teacher
  • True genius - with some faults that make him only more human
  • Great human being
  • If only I could play like he did when he had a bad day
  • Yehudi, the world is a sadder place without your wisdom, friendliness and humor

Bye, Juergen

June 16, 2005 at 01:22 PM · I like to think it's a better place for it.

June 28, 2005 at 05:51 AM · " i've had the dvd about two days now and the thing that stands out for me is the very last shot thing with menuhin. Wow! 1972 footage of him playing the end of the chaconne starting from the d major section i think. Certainly a man that had the gift of music. There was so much warmth and beauty in his playing. I've watched it atleast ten times now. I love his vibrato in it. It's this soft fluttering kinda of sound. It seriously reminds me of butterly wings. dorky i know but that's what i hear in his vibrato. anyway i'm going to watch it again!"

I agree. It was absolutely amazing. I have recordings of the Ciaccona by Milstein, Szeryng, Podger, and St. John, and none of them move me like Menuhin does, to the point of tears. I immediately listened to it again, pausing it in places and moving from frame to frame to examine his performance more closely.

His face is a visual analogue of the music and I think his bowing is serene, passionate and edgy, all at the same time. The way he sometimes flings the bow down on the strings in a barely, and yet firmly, controlled explosion of emotion creates an effect that leaves me breathless. And his left hand is incredible. For some reason, it reminds me of Gillian Murphy dancing Odette in Swan Lake, maybe because of the way she flutters her arms and transforms them into wings.

I cannot imagine ever being able to play the Ciaccona like that, not a note of it, but if I ever could, I would be perfectly content with my bowing technique, deteriorating or not.

June 28, 2005 at 04:01 PM · I love the way you described that, Deborah!

July 1, 2005 at 04:21 PM · Yo anyone there?

July 1, 2005 at 07:11 PM · Deb was quite eloquent, Brian. I'm sorry I'm not here.

July 2, 2005 at 12:54 AM · maybe it's better for us that menuhin wasn't a perfect faceless virtuoso. he had faults, he did things wrong. but who doesn't? there is no sin in being human.

July 2, 2005 at 03:15 AM · As a young man I would say Menuhin was a perfect virtuoso, but later on he wasn't and that 'human' side of him started to show.

July 2, 2005 at 09:45 PM · Well, I didn't know anything about him and heard only his recordings of Paganini concertos from 1960- my first thought was- he's kidding! it was really horrible in compare with Kaler, for example.

But then I read all these responds and I'm listening to the recording with respect:)

July 11, 2005 at 11:33 AM · Yo, anyone there?

July 11, 2005 at 06:18 PM · Brian -- I think this subject has been exhausted.

July 11, 2005 at 06:22 PM · 'Yehudi Menuhin Archive Saved for the Nation'

http://www.ram.ac.uk/welcome/news34.htm

July 25, 2005 at 11:56 AM · he played from the heart, thats for sure.

July 25, 2005 at 09:12 PM · You know whats funny? All this talk of learning technique from pieces (like string crossing from Bach Partita no. 3 or bow control from a Handel sonata) sounds a lot like Suzuki method. Could Suzuki actually be more traditional than traditional? (actually I doubt it, but I'm a bit Suzuki fan so...)

July 26, 2005 at 03:24 AM · I love Yehudi Menuhin's playing. His playing moves me alot and I am extremely fond of his vibrato and the warmth of his sound.

July 27, 2005 at 04:51 AM · For me, Menuhin was a lot better in his youth. Not just because of his health issues but it seemed to me that he almost felt as though (like Elman) the younger generation was really not worthy of great music.

My only problem with him is that (like Heifetz in a smaller way) he tends to play everything really fast. I cannot stand his cadenza to the Mendelssohn. I can barely make out his phrasing and his vibrato in the 70's clip is incredibly odd.

Nevertheless, he was a great musician, philosopher and human.

September 12, 2005 at 08:46 PM · I have always thought that the greatest violinists are great -- at least in part -- because each has a unique "voice." If that is true, then Yehudi Menuhin certainly is one of the greatest of the greats. Perhaps his unique "singing voice" on the violin is even the product of his technical problems; I don't know. But his sound is so much like a speaking voice, that violin playing without him is unimaginable. Can you imagine movie history without the unique voices of Marlin Brando, or Gary Cooper, or Mae West, or Jack Nickelson, or Marilyn Monroe, or Groucho Marx, or Mel Blanc, or Bette Davis, or hundreds of "unique" others? And because of the individual "spoken" quality of Menuhin's playing, he brought out aspects of the music he played that we never would have heard otherwise. Anyway, that's my opinion.

Sandy Marcus

September 19, 2005 at 12:00 AM · I wrote a review of a Menuhin performance not yet on CD. It is at

http://www.careermotiv8.com/violin-concerto.html

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