Slippedisc daily comfort zone (24): Hearing double

Slippedisc daily comfort zone (24): Hearing double


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2021

Best of the best.

Menuhin said when Oistrakh died: ‘My closest friend among the violinists…He was a prince of a man, the best colleague I ever had.’



  • Greg Bottini says:

    What tone these artists had!
    Menuhin and Oistrakh have always been among my favorite violinists and musicians.
    I heard Menuhin play this concerto with the then concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony, Raymond Kobler, as part of the inauguration of the new Davies Symphony Hall.
    Menuhin’s effortless, golden tone filled the hall, completely eclipsing the scrawny sound eked out by Kobler.
    Menuhin was simply beautiful.

  • e says:

    Absolutely grand…and grand to see them
    listening to eachother, to see Oistrakh’s
    little smile of satisfaction at one moment as he listens to his colleague. Mille grazie, NL.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    YM was scathing about the Soviets forcing Oistrakh to tour so quickly after his first heart attack.

  • mary says:

    Oistrakh should’ve been on first violin

    • M2N2K says:

      Apparently he did not think so. In Bach’s Double the “second”actually starts two of its three movements and DO clearly enjoyed playing the “second fiddle” even when performing this concerto with his son.

    • BRUCEB says:

      I’m sure it was a case of “after you/ no, after you…” until one of them gave in.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Menuhin sounds in good form and plays the slashingVivaldian double-stops forte and not soft as he did with Enescu when they come twice in the third movement.

    It is a favorite work. Even my mother loved it. I have enjoyed from the first by Fritz Kreisler/Efrem Zimbalist with string quartet, Carl Flesch/Joseph SZigeti, Georges Enescu/Menuhin, Hermann Diener/Berlin CollegiuZ Musicum, Adolf Busch/Frances Magnes, Heifetz/Heifetz, Heifetz/Friedman, and various configurations of Stern, Perlman, and the Oistrakhs. My favorite is Busch/Magnes.

    • sam says:


      revelatory, both parts interact in an organic way that 2 soloists can’t match with the single purpose of one artist of his caliber

      who else did it?

      surprised that more violinists dont record themselves playing this duet with him her/self.

      • David K. Nelson says:

        Heifetz was intrigued by technology to a certain extent which might largely explain that famous recording. As a youth his most frequent partner in the Bach Double was Toscha Seidel (it was said it was a duet of a devil with an angel, with young Jascha being the angel). In some ways it is said that the recording was not made with Seidel just so the interpretation could be preserved and enjoyed.

        I suspect the reason more violinists have not recorded both parts is, first, they want to avoid accusations of gimmickry, and second, it means missing out on all the enjoyable give and take this concerto offers.

        • Edgar Self says:

          I would like to have heard Heifetz and Toscha Seidel play Bach’s double concerto, Wieniawski’s etudes-caprices, or anything. Would this have been when they both studied with Leopold Auer, Dave?

          • David K. Nelson says:

            1) Typo alert: I meant to say it is SAD that Heifetz and Seidel never recorded the Bach Double, not that it was “said” that they never did for a particular reason. If there needed to be a reason, Seidel was mostly a Columbia artist, and Jascha of course Victor. But Seidel did make some sides for Victor.

            2) Yes Edgar their performances of the Bach Double were when they were both Leopold Auer pupils, back in pre revolution Russia. I gather they were friends, or friendly rivals, then. Later in life the only virtuoso violinist of his own era that Heifetz seemed to like as a genuine friend was Benno Rabinof, who was one of Auer’s American pupils. A Bach Double with them would have been treasurable as well.

  • E says:

    This is sublime.
    Thank you.

  • christopher storey says:

    Two of the great musicians of the 20th century. As a non-string player I am perhaps not entitled to comment, but although Menuhin’s actual technique may not, by this time, have been of the first order, for me his musicianship was beyond compare and remained so to the end of his life

  • Edgar Self says:

    Thanks, Dave Nelson, for additional information about Toscha Seidel, Rabinoff, and Heifetz I didn’t know about Rabinoff and Heifetz. .

    Re Heifetz/Heifetz in the Bach double, at the time reviewer Irving Kolodin wrote, “One Heifetz would be a little unwelcome, let alone two.”

    On Seidel’s sVictor 10-inch of Brahms’s first Hungarian Dance, you can hear the G-string melting. The B-side was “Intermezzo”. He then recorded Brahms sonatas with pianist Arthur Loesser, whose brother lFrank was called “the evil of the two Loessers” on Broadway.