The late Nathan Milstein’s 1975 stereo remake (DG mid-price) was his own preferred version of these pillars of the violin repertoire with which he had been so associated since his youth in Odessa. But his (broadly faster) mid-Fifties New York account, now remastered and restored by EMI, was a famous yardstick of its time – a grandly phrased, aristocratically structured, Romantically resonant statement to treasure beside Menuhin and Heifetz. These are epic virtuoso performances justifying Milstein’s view that with this music the performer could ‘bask in the most glamorous light’. Stylistically, purists will object to their expressive liberty and gesture. But few will be able to resist their artistry or intensity of delivery.
Although Nathan Milstein hailed from Odessa, the cradle of Russian violin playing, his personal style was more classical and intellectual in approach than many of his colleagues. By the middle of the twentieth century he had become one of the most renowned violinists in the world, and he did as much as anyone else to imbue Bach's solo violin partitas and sonatas with the rather mystical aura they have presently. Milstein began to study violin at the age of seven.
I found Viktoria Mullova's performance of the Bach B minor Partita quite enthralling throughout. Without ever minimizing the resources of the 'modern' violin (and hers sounds like a very fine instrument indeed) she seems to have taken intelligent cognizance of what 'authentic' players have been learning: there is a lot of one-bow-to-a-note playing, for instance. Moreover, she will have nothing of the modern tendency to even out an instrument's tone.
The sonatas and partitas for solo violin (BWV 1001–1006) are a set of six works composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. They are sometimes referred to in English as the sonatas and partias for solo violin in accordance with Bach's headings in the autograph manuscript: "Partia" (plural "Partien") was commonly used in German-speaking regions during Bach's time, whereas the Italian "partita" was introduced to this set in the 1879 Bach Gesellschaft edition, having become standard by that time. The set consists of three sonatas da chiesa in four movements and three partitas (or partias) in dance-form movements.
Russian violinist Dmitry Smirnov's début recording on FHR features works by master baroque composer J. S. Bach, a leading figure of 20th century music Béla Bartók and a wonderful newly discovered work by influencial mid-twentieth Swiss violinist Hansheinz Schneeberger who died in 2019. The Schneeberger 'Sonata', written two years before Bartok's 'Sonata', is a violin show piece, displaying much imagination in its idiomatic and virtoustic violin writing this is the first recording of the work. There are many connections that link these three works together the Bartok and Schneeberger sonatas show influences of Bach. Also, Bartok's 'First Violin Concerto' was premièred by Schneeberger.