A Musical Walk Down Memory Lane
The good people at Video Artists International (www.vaimusic.com ) just sent us a set of two DVD’s for reviewing: Virtuoso Violinists, Vols. 1 and 2 (VAI DVD #4595 and #4598).
I was impressed by the diversity of the artists represented and baffled by the realization that quality DVD’s or even CD’s of their work are few and difficult to find.
In volumes 1 and 2, Christian Ferras, Yehudi Menuhin, Nathan Milstein, Henryk Szeryng, Mischa Elman, Michael Rabin, David Oistrakh, Ida Haendel, Joseph Suk and Aaron Rosand are seen and heard playing excerpts by Hubay, Sarasate, Mendelssohn, Paganini, Bach, Kreisler, Janáček and Brahms.
On two different tracks, the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio plays the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Trio in C Minor, Op.1, No. 3, and the Guarnieri String Quartet plays a movement from Beethoven’s “Quartetto Serioso.”
The quality of the video is generally very good especially when considering that some of these clips are black and white reproductions of kinescopes dating back to the 1960’s.
The sound has been subtly enhanced so that the playing of these violinists can be enjoyed without question.
The accompanying artists range from the Orchestre de Radio-Canada to the Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra, to pianists Robert Koenig and Sviatoslav Richter, among others. They all do their job to satisfaction, allowing the spotlight to shine on the soloists.
Isaac Stern, Christiane Ferras, Yehudi Menuhin, Nathan Milstein, Misha Elman, Joseph Szigeti, Zino Francescatti and Michael Rabin were concertizing when many of us were still in school and had neither the money nor the opportunity to hear great artists in person.
Lucky us that we had the Bell Telephone Hour in the 1960’s and we got to hear these artists in our living rooms.
To evaluate in depth the playing of over a dozen artists in 21 selections is well beyond the scope of this review. To single any out would be a fool’s errand. Suffice for me to say that the title of virtuoso given to these artists in the title of the two DVD set is well deserved.
The names of Isaac Stern and Yehudi Menuhin are more than well known and their discographies extensive. On the other hand, Josef Suk, Ida Haendel, Aaron Rosand and several other colleagues of theirs are more familiar to the connoisseur than to the average listener of classical music. This DVD set is for many an initiation into the art of violin playing.
Having these legendary performers back to back on DVD is a musical treat for any one regardless of age. For anyone fortunate enough to have heard any of them in person, this DVD set constitutes a musical walk down memory lane.
VAI is accumulating an extraordinary library of archival CD’s and DVD’s of Opera, song, instrumental music, and Broadway shows. We look forward to more of their one of a kind offerings.
Rafael de Acha
All About Arts.