Cadenza for Brahms by Milstein

January 29, 2006 at 01:37 AM · What's the cadenza that Milstein plays in Brahms Violin Concerto? The recording was made in 1961 with the London Phillharmonia Orchesra with maestro Anatole Fistoulari. It is paired with the Tchaikovsky Concerto as well...

Maybe Milstein played his own cadenza throughout his life? If anyone has any info...please tell me! =)


Replies (21)

January 30, 2006 at 02:37 AM · patrick:

The cadenza in the 1961 is his own as is the cadenza in the 1954 recording, though he made some changes. There is a 1950 live recording, but I've not heard it. I do not know how long he played his own cadenza but I'll guess it was for quite a while. The music, by the way, is available from Schirmer.

February 1, 2006 at 02:01 AM · Composer: Johannes Brahms

Arranger: Y Menuhin


Violin and Piano

Series: String Solo

Publisher: G. Schirmer, Inc

Great Performer's Edition.

$12.95 (US)

Inventory # HL 50336920


UPC: 73999482713

Edition Number: ED3480

Width: 9

Length: 12

The agent for Schirmer sheet music is now Hal Leonard.

February 1, 2006 at 02:18 AM · I just received a facsimile copy of Maud Powell’s cadenza for the concerto…dandy!

February 1, 2006 at 03:19 AM · Yeah, that's his own cadenza. I love both of those recordings. For $4, that recording is a steal.

March 22, 2006 at 08:30 PM · I have heard many different versions of Milstein's Brahms, and every time he played a different cadenza. He is said to have written three, but I suspect he liked to tamper wirth them, as did his close friend, Vkladimir Horowitz, with his own Carmen Fantasy.

I own the Fistolarie, the Monteux and the de Sabata, but I've heard others. One of these days it ought to be catalogued. There is a Steinberg recording, a Jochum recording, and other official and live recordings.

Unfortunately he is ignored today as being one of the finest violinists ever, so some don't see the benefit in chronicaling his huge output. Alas.

March 23, 2006 at 03:03 AM · Ricci's interesting recording of the Brahms includes the cadenzas of numerous violinst-composers. One of the cadenzas is labelled Milstein's, but it doesn't indicate in the written commentary that he wrote more than one.

March 23, 2006 at 05:27 AM · Sander - is the Ricci version any good? Like Yehudi Menuhin, I think Ricci's fabled technique went down years ago. Apologies to all Ricci fans.

March 23, 2006 at 06:19 PM · Ricci was probably the most technically advanced violinist until he was older. I've heard that his technique (how he tried to play things very clean and without slides that didnt enhance expression) stiffened up his hand as he got older. This is believable because its much easier to stay relaxed while shifting if you allow yourself to slide than if you just land on all the notes. Anyways, the only reason i would buy his recording is because it has about 15 different cadenzas on it. His interpretation and tone are nothing special on this recording, and I only enjoy his younger recordings or recordings of showpieces.

I would suspect that Milstein used to play the Auer cadenza like Heifetz did when he was younger. He seems to be a perfectionist and was always looking for something new in old things, which is probably why he altered his cadenzas every so often.

March 23, 2006 at 07:15 AM · Ricci's playing in my opinion endured well into his old age, more so than Menuhin. Listen to "Gypies Melodies", recorded I think in 1991 (in his 60's), very good playing.

Listen to it at:

A 2001 recording at the age of 83 is obviously not his best, but it is still great music making.

March 23, 2006 at 11:01 AM · Ricci came to perform in Hawaii a couple of years ago...he performed the wieniawski was really horrible playing...very sloppy and out of tune...

I really believe that some of these great violinists should have ended their careers on a very high note...why keep on performing even though you know you can't perform the pieces?

March 23, 2006 at 12:16 PM · I saw Milstein in London when he was about 79. Amazing playing in a recital that included Bach's Chaconne, a Geminiani VS, Beethoven's VS 9, Liszt Mephisto Waltz (transcribed), Wieniawski Scherzo Tarantelle & Stravinsky's Russian Maiden Song. The other event is of course Heifetz in his farewell concert in France on DVD at age 72. Sorry - I just don't think Ricci is the equal of Heifetz or Milstein in his old age.

March 23, 2006 at 04:22 PM · I heard Ricci several times, but not when he was older. Like many of them, I think that it becomes more difficult to play as you get older because of the fine motor coordination you need in your hands and fingers. Pianists have it a lot easier as they age. My guess is, judging from the many comments so far, that Ricci probably became more inconsistent as he aged, and would have his good days and his bad days. This probably happens to all of them (and us). I was fortunate enough to see Milstein's last performance in Chicago. It was a recital. He was 80 years old. He played (among other things) the Bach Partita #2 and Paganiniana. Both performances were astonishing - musically and technically. There were moments in the Chaccone that you felt you were actually listening to the voice of Bach. I was sitting near a couple of violinists who were just trying to see if Milstein still had it in the Paganiana. He did, at least on that night. Getting back to the topic of Ricci, I do like the Ricci Brahms Concerto. Granted it's not necessarily THE performance of all time (and what is?), but it was still a wonderful performance, and I do listen to it from time to time, in addition to all those cadenzas he plays. Even if you're not a Ricci fan, it is really a most interesting recording and well worth having in your collection. I think that Ricci recorded a lot of things wonderfully that you wouldn't ordinarily associate with his aesthetic - notably the Mendellsohn, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, and Goldmark concertos. Of course, these weren't recorded when he was older.

Just as an afterthought, I think we all need to show some appreciation for those great violinists who are considered "past their prime" but still perform publicly. They may not always be at the top of their game, but just to hear in person a living legend is quite a treat. Even if their playing isn't up to their own standards when younger, you get at least a taste of a style of playing that may be gone. It's like listening to those old Joachim disks he made at the very end of his life. Not much there, but what IS there is a doorway to history and a glorious past. I hope that we all can appreciate these artists and applaud them even for the courage it takes to step out on a platform, knowing that they're not what they used to be, and still giving it their all. Hubert Humphrey once said, "It's not what they take away from you that counts; it's what you do with what you've got left."

Bravo to them all.

Cordially, Sandy

March 23, 2006 at 04:57 PM · Sniff...

Well written Sander.

March 23, 2006 at 06:29 PM · I really like Ricci. It's true that some of his recordings are inconsistent, but considering the fact that so many of recordings were done live and without his permission...I think this inconsistensy was bound to show up in some of them.

However, whether one likes his playing or not, there are things that he could play at any time of day, that even Heifetz didn't play.

March 23, 2006 at 07:01 PM · Milstein's last recital (I think he was 82) is available on CD and it is an incredible recording.

I have only seen one "legend" perform and he is probably past his prime or had a really off night. Perlman struggled through the Beethoven Concerto this summer and I wish I hadn't paid $65 to see it. I suppose it would be "corageous" had he not been paid over $50,000 for that one hour. Courage is not the word that comes to mind when you've probably performed a piece 1000 times and you're paid more than what many people earn in a year- especially when he admitted he doesn't practice anymore in an interview in The Strad. "Arrogant" and "selfish" come to mind when you ignore bad review after bad review and continue to get paid millions a year then go and tell everyone you don't even practice (although it was evident by the last two performances I've seen). It is more corageous and respectable to step down and admit you don't have the technical ability and consistency to perform what your audience has paid to see than it is to decieve yourself and your fans.

March 23, 2006 at 07:03 PM · kudos


March 23, 2006 at 08:16 PM · Sorry that you've had that experience Brian, I have not.

March 24, 2006 at 04:42 PM · OK, I KNEW someone would look at the other side of the coin. And to give the Devil his due, I, too, saw a couple of "legends" who looked like they were just going through the motions. I saw Isaac Stern once play the Hindemith Concerto magnificently, and then on the same programme butcher the Mozart 3rd Concerto. He looked as if his mind was somewhere else. What WAS he thinking? The classic example is, of course, Mischa Elman, whose performances in his old age could be, well, embarrassing. I have also heard from people who are knowledgeable about music who heard Perlman in recent years that at times he could be fantastic and at other times not so hot. But I don't think Perlman is past his prime yet. Now, maybe after all these years he's sick of practicing...THAT I can understand (at my age). But, yes, if your public pays big bucks, they deserve your best, always.

There are, of course, great violinists who did bow out (so to speak) before they deteriorated badly - Heifetz, Francescatti, for example.

But still, there are many of these legends genuinely past their prime who nevertheless could be inspiring, like Menuhin, even if technically a lot of gifted students could play better (It is arguable whether Milstein ever did go past his prime).

March 24, 2006 at 06:23 PM · Although I've heard tyhe best and worst of almost all of the legendary violinists, no matter what to me they are the best.

March 24, 2006 at 09:03 PM · Great post Sandy...and I agree with you. But although it's a great treat to hear any of those "legends" whether it be in their prime or close to their...well...death, I still believe that if those "legends" ended on a high note, and not dragged out their retirement, we would remember them as being the LEGENDS they are. I, for some reason, cannot block that Wieniawski performance from Ricci...I am aware of Ricci's great recordings and performances (I am a big fan), and if he hadn't performed the wieniawski in Hawaii as badly as he did, I would probably remember him as a "god" so to speak...Now i think of a demi-god


March 24, 2006 at 09:07 PM · Oh and also, Perlman MAY be past his prime, but he certainly still performs very EXCELLENTLY! Yes, he's cutting back on performances, but I disagree with the statement that Perlman should not have performed the Beethoven.

When I was at Interlochen summer camp, he came to perform the Beethoven (this was about...4 years ago???) and I had to say that it was truly magnificant...THere were some iffy parts, but overall, he performed it with such a grace and feel that had me dancing all the way back to the cabin. He still performed the 3rd movement as fast as he did back in his "prime"...

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