You want know what the face of a legend looks like? There it fucking is. One of the greatest to touch the bow. He set the standard which all other aspiring violinists are forced to cower under like sheep with bladder control problems. He did it better than anyone else. He did it longer than anyone else. Dude was well into his 80s and his fingers were still moving like mad fire. So when Grammophon releases all his recordings, you better jump on that shit like the fat kid on the last piece of birthday cake. He’s on everyone’s top 10. It’s Nathan fucking Milstein.
Like most great violinists, Milstein was Russian. Why were Russians so good a violin? It’s cause they took that shit fucking seriously. It was Russia vs. the United States, motherfuckers. While buckets of cash, sweat, piss, and blood were drained into trying to land something on the fucking moon, Russian schools were also creating the greatest violinists in the world. Violin wasn’t a game. It wasn’t fun. You didn’t “move onto something else” if you don’t like it. You played that violin until you fucking liked it. If you never ended up liking it? At least you’d be good at it. This wasn’t the “don’t spank your kids” era. This was the “I will beat you with whatever’s closest if you defy me” ’50s. Sure, to the modern eye, this kind of behaviour might seem cruel. But back then, this was “good parenting”. The Russian Violin School is famous to this day for the legends it created. And at the tippy top of that list is Nathan fucking Milstein. Dude was beyond good.
It’s fairly common knowledge that each Stradivarius violin gets a name. And at that price? You better hope to fuck it has a good name. Nobody wants a Stradivarius called “Well, I tried”. Can you guess the name of Milstein’s Stradivarius? It’s called “the Milstein” Stradivarius. That’s how good this guy was! Forever his name will be part of one of the most expensive instruments ever created and nobody bats an eye. Imagine waking up one day to see the Taj Mahal was suddenly called “The Steve” and, furthermore, nobody seemed to give a shit. You know that whatever this “Steve” did had to be pretty fucking good.
Is this 4 and a half hour album good? Seriously, it’s Nathan fucking Milstein. You listen to this to measure how all other violinists keep up. Of course it’s fucking good. While listening to this, it’s amazing to feel the vulnerability of such a giant figure. He doesn’t bash you over the head, he seduces. His solo Bach is considered one of the greatest things ever recorded and the reason is simple to hear. While being both powerful and controlled, there is something within Milstein’s playing that is so broken, sensitive, and human. You forget the man as a towering figure and listen to this mysterious part of humanity in its bare form. If you want to get into classical, this is a great place to start. If you’re already knee-deep in the classical steez, you’d better have some Milstein on fucking hand. If you’re human and breathing, it would be to your benefit to listen to Milstein. Humanity hails him as one of the best, you might as well figure out why.