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Penguin Guide, January 2009

The partnership of Heifetz and Toscanini in the Beethoven Violin Concerto is uniquely powerful and purposeful, with the purity of the violinist’s playing, notably above the stave…Heifetz’s example leads Toscanini to a rare gentleness in the slow movement while the finale is exhilarating in its rhythmic drive. The hard NBC recording is nicely mellowed in the Naxos transfer…



Jed Distler
ClassicsToday.com, December 2001

"Even if you already own these performances, Obert-Thorn's upgraded transfers are well worth Naxos' paltry price."



Elaine Fine
American Record Guide, August 2001

"...The remastering is extraordinary. The producer, Mark Obert-Thorn, has drastically improved the sound over the 1994 RCA reissues in The Heifetz Collection.



Michael Anthony
StarTribune, May 2001

"Heifetz looms large in 2001, the centennial of his birth. An online auction house sold off a cache of Heifetz memorabilia in February, including the alligator briefcase he used to carry his music; next month, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival will devote two weeks of concerts, repertoire and films to Heifetz.

"And now in record stores on the budget-priced Naxos label are seven CDs containing many of the violinist's early concerto recordings and shorter pieces supported by some of the foremost conductors of the 20th century: Arturo Toscanini, John Barbirolli, Thomas Beecham and Pierre Monteux among them....

"The Naxos discs include almost none of the short, light works - what the critic Virgil Thomson called "silk underwear music" - that earned Heifetz some critical derision. He also was sometimes called cold and machinelike. ...

"To be sure, there's considerable charisma in the Vieuxtemps Concerto No. 4, one of the highlights of the Naxos CDs and a performance of staggering beauty. This kind of radiant playing invites the notion that Heifetz was best in light music.

"But then how does one explain Heifetz's refined, shapely reading of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, made in 1940 with Toscanini at the podium? The conductor surely was an influence, because the performance is much better structured than the violinist's later version with Charles Munch.

"Not surprisingly, Heifetz's Mozart - here it's the Concertos No. 4 and 5 - sounds dated, almost mannered. His style might have been his own, but that style was grounded in a Romantic sensibility, which isn't true of most violinists today. That's why so much of Heifetz on disc, at least when he was playing material congenial to him, is to be cherished.

"He's wonderful, for example, on the 1939 neo-Romantic concerto by William Walton, on the Sibelius violin concerto and even in the odd concerto of 1943 by Louis Gruenberg."



Richard Osborne
Gramophone

"This is a miraculous release, the Beethoven especially so: a performance of rare beauty of a work of transfigured loveliness in a recording that has itself undergone a kind of transfiguration. This is a real thoroughbred of a release, un-ignorable at any price, let alone the one Naxos so modestly asks."



Peter Dobrin
Sunday Philadephia Inquirer

"The rap on Heifetz, that he could be a cold player, has endured. And these recordings won't do much to change that impression. Heifetz, to be sure, was a technically superior musician who doled out expressiveness in modest doses. But no violinist to this day has produced a tone that vibrates with more vitality, and Mark Obert-Thorn's restoration of a March 11, 1940, Beethoven concerto with the NBC and Toscanini in Studio 8-H captures that glorious quality.

"In total, it is a wonderfully natural-sounding, clear and balanced sound product. Heifetz is best in the cadenzas, where he finally escapes the shadow of the composer and lets loose with some personality of his own. Case in point: He plays the first movement of the Brahms as though it were an etude, sewing in and out of quick passages with an ease so cool it seems to say 'so there.' But the three-minute cadenza is executed with polish-plus, and it still manages to be fiery. Although both concertos were previously released (on Victor), no vinyl could produce a sound as clear as this worthy release."






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8:27:06 PM, 18 September 2014
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