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Benjamin Ivry
Strings Magazine, December 2001

"Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) is still the holy terror of the violin for his way of getting from one place to another by the most direct and unhesitating path, even when it seems humanly impossible to do so. These performances, ideally transferred by Mark Obert Thorn, include a 1934 recording of Mozart's 'Turkish' Concerto No. 5 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra led by John Barbirolli, and two outings with Thomas Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic: Mozart's Concerto No. 4 in 1947 and the Mendelssohn Concerto in 1949. Heifetz recorded these works a number of times, but the Concerto No. 5 with Barbirolli has a glamorous glow that many of his 1930s performances retain, making it my personal favorite for Heifetz-listening. Beecham was a congenial recording colleague for Heifetz, and the Concerto No. 4's inherent elegance speaks clearly. Only the Mendelssohn seems a tad remote, although the overall performance is far better than a later recording with Charles Munch. The lingering, misleading notion that Heifetz was somehow 'cold' in performance is contradicted by these warm interpretations."



William Starr
The State, August 2001

"Heifetz, generally conceded to be the greatest violinist of the 20th century, made several recordings of the Mendelssohn concerto, none more dazzling than this one from 1949 partnered by Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic. The sound is embracing and warm...The Mozart concertos are brilliantly played, of course."



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."






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7:40:45 AM, 17 April 2014
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