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  • Nathan Milstein - In Portrait
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Nathan Milstein - In Portrait

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2-Disc Version

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Nathan Milstein - In Portrait + Jascha Heifetz: God's Fiddler + Heifetz & Piatigorsky - Historic Performance Film Footage
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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Italian, English, French
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Christopher Nupen Films
  • DVD Release Date: March 27, 2007
  • Run Time: 225 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000M9BSBE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,319 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Two-hour film Nathan Milstein in Portrait (Some memories of a quiet magician)
  • Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata and Bach Chaconne from the same 1986 recital featured in the film
  • Commentary in English with subtitles in Deutsch, Espanol, Francais, Italiano, and Suomeksi
  • Personal introductions by Christopher Nupen
  • Allegro Molto, an Allegro Films compilation

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This DVD portrait celebrates the miraculous gift of one of the finest violinists of the 20th century, universally respected by every international musician of his time and genuinely liked by almost all of them. The 2 hour film is built around his last rec

Nathan Milstein was one of the 20th century's greatest violinists, his technique polished to perfection, his musical interpretations profound. He was also unique among star performers in being relatively publicity-shy. So Christopher Nuppen's "portrait" offers a rare, valuable glimpse into the man's personality and his penetrating observations about his instrument and music, along with an abundance of anecdotes and reminiscences reflecting his 73 years of public performances, itself an amazing record. In that time, he knew a galaxy of legendary composers and musicians. A student of Leopold Auer, he was friends with Glazunov, Rachmaninoff, Ysaye, Horowitz, and many others who figure in the stories he tells in this documentary's interview segments. Riveting too, are Milstein's stories about concertizing in the early days of the Soviet Union, giving concerts in factories to workers who didn't appreciate Bach. It all adds up to a fascinating film which includes his last concert, recorded by Swedish television, that features sterling performances of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata and the Bach Chaconne.

The interview materials are interspersed with filmed performances of short works that show off Milstein's dazzling command of his instrument. Milstein's reputation for severity is belied by the warm, humorous man we see spinning amusing stories and well-thought-out observations. In conversation with Pinchas Zuckerman, he speaks of the importance of "invention," the need of performers to constantly reinvent their approach to a piece by such means as changing their fingering to discover new ways of keeping their interpretations fresh. This is illustrated by the concert film on disc 2, when finger pain forced him to revise his left-hand fingering with no discernable effect on the technical or musical results. In itself, this was a remarkable feat for a violinist who, at 86, was already playing at the highest level at an age when violinists have been long retired because the inroads of age have shredded their technique. To Milstein, though, it was nothing special. He says he often modified his fingering, even on stage during a performance.

Nuppen, whose previous films sometimes go too far in trying to show musicians as ordinary folks and which sometimes slip into the hagiographic mode, is more restrained here, as fits his subject, a great musician whose life and art are so well portrayed in this fine documentary. --Dan Davis

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
The sound quality and camera angles are very good.
There's no way that Paganini, if he'd lived into old age, would've been able to perform his own Caprices as well as Milstein did at age 82.
I like his sound, like his interpretations, and love his technique.
X. Quan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By X. Quan on May 10, 2007
Let me preface by saying that Nathan Milstein is one of my favorite violinists. I like his sound, like his interpretations, and love his technique. I may be biased in my views toward him, but I feel like this musical portrait is a worthy view for any classical music fan.

The first disc contains some conversations and interviews that Christopher Nupen conducted with Milstein. There's really nothing provocative here. Milstein was widely known as a simple and humble artist, and he does nothing to refute that statement in the conversations. My only real complaint is that there are no English subtitles available; sometimes it is difficult to understand Milstein. Of course, there is also the surreal "chat" between Pinchas Zukerman and Milstein. Zukerman does his best Chris Farley impression, serving up softball questions to a Milstein that almost seems annoyed by the whole process. What little insight and/or anecdotes that is provided is basically rehashed from Milstein's memoirs "From Russia to the West" by Solomon Volkov. If you are a serious Milstein or Violin fan, try to find a copy of the book instead of watching this video.

The second disc contains complete performances of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata and the Bach Chaconne from Milstein's last public recital. By that time, Milstein was in his 80's and almost undoubtedly the greatest octogenarian violinist virtuoso of all time :). Sadly, the other pieces he played in the recital, most notably the Sarasate Introduction and Tarantelle, are only shown in clips during disc 1. I was hoping this DVD would just show the film for the entire recital, but the Kreutzer and Chaconne are a good compromise. There is also a little section of the Milstein conversations where he opens up about the Chaconne.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By ricardo_guerrero on July 1, 2007
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Thanks to good genes and formidable physical and mental strength, Nathan Milstein was still sounding fantastic into his eighties. All I can say is Thank the gods for Christopher Nupen. Milstein objected to doing the film for many years and finally, and literally JUST in the nick of time, it was done. This 2-DVD set is tremendous. For years, it was only available on a single videotape - and I don't think all of the footage was included. Personally, I am not real big on Nupen's intros to each part. He's made a number of great films, but he just seems like an old windbag. Nearly everything he says in his intros is covered in the program notes AND in the film itself! If there is any real fault to the discs, it would have to be in the menu format. You can't use the 'Play All' feature unless you're willing to fast-forward or sit through 10 minutes of clips from other Nupen films, good though they may be.

The two-part program on the first DVD is fine. Milstein's accent is thick but understandable if you're a classical violinist and already familiar with the man and his art. I would've liked to see a bit more about Milstein's development as an artist - and hear him talk a bit more about the non-violinistic things he did to become such a cultured, educated person in addition to being one of the greatest fiddlers. The portions with Pinchas Zukerman are nice. The portions with Nupen asking questions are a little drab...I wish Zukerman had asked all the questions since Nupen is obviously not well-schooled in the violin. The Kennedy Center Honors clip was a nice inclusion - I'm glad they gave one to Milstein. No one deserved it more. Also included are commentary by the lovely Terese Milstein (who, like her husband, was ageless...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Linda on July 14, 2007
Fantastic! Five stars aren't enough. Candid interviews reveal Mr. Milstein's humbleness and an insight to his great talent. The sound quality and camera angles are very good. Close-ups of Mr. Milstein's playing are educational for all skill levels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gian Paolo Nardoianni on June 9, 2009
This is a fabulous documentary about one of the greatest violinists in history. A prodigiously gifted musician and an aristocratic virtuoso without the slightest trace of showing-off, Nathan Milstein was also an absolutely charming human being endowed with a sparkling sense of humour. In my opinion, he is the only violinist able to make one understand the music one is listening to: to understand why a given note has to be followed exactly by that other note, that and not another one. In other words, the strict necessity which governs the musical flow.
I adore Milstein. Unique for the clearness, cleanliness, transparency, elegance, brilliancy of his sound, he is also second to none for the endless variety of emotions he is able to convey to the listener. The way in which he can fathom the depths of Bach Sonatas and Partitas is beyond comparison: his violin knows how to sing, how to dance, how to muse, how to pray. Also stunning is his playing of Bach's counterpoint: each voice living a life of its own, a mysterious, meaningful life from the beginning to the end. Only Schweitzer, Casals, Horszowski and Scherchen share with Milstein the secret of Bach's counterpoint.
All this, and much more, has been masterfully captured by Mr. Nupen in his film: a footage which deserves the everlasting gratitude of all music lovers.
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