THE ART OF VIOLIN

The latest in Warner's "Art Of . . ." series of classical documentaries—following wonderful films dedicated to conducting, singing, and the piano—comes this gloss on the violin, with an

The latest in Warner's "Art Of . . ." series of classical documentaries—following wonderful films dedicated to conducting, singing, and the piano—comes this gloss on the violin, with an emphasis on the instrument's greatest 20th-century practitioners. Director Bruno Monsaingeon directed the acclaimed line of NVC Arts biographies on golden-age classical icons like pianist Sviatoslav Richter, and he brings his usual erudite, enlightened touch here to survey such timeless talents as Eugene Ysaye, Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, Joseph Szigeti, Nathan Milstein, David Oistrakh, and Yehudi Menuhin, among others. Contemporary violinists providing commentary range from veterans Itzhak Perlman and Ivry Gitlis (who are excellent) to such youngsters as Hilary Hahn. The vintage footage is often breathtaking, although Milstein, Oistrakh, and Menuhin naturally benefit from being born later in the century. The late Menuhin, in particular, comes across as the film's patron saint, as he not only provides insightful commentary on other violinists but also features in some of the most remarkable performance footage. This is the first of the "Art Of ..." series to appear on DVD-Video in the U.S. Let's hope the others—especially the conductors' films—aren't far behind.—BB