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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Heifetz was the first leading violinist to revive the long-neglected concertos of the 19th-century Belgian violinst-composer, Henru Vieuxtemps, recording No.4 in 1935 and No. 5 in 1947. Both are compact works, rhapsodic in structure, which brilliantly exploit violin technique, making an attractive centerpiece for this disc of showpieces. The two Saint-Saëns pieces inspire Heifetz to much witty pointing and seductive phrasing, as do the Sarasate fireworks piece and the Fantasy on Themes from Bizet’s Carmen, written for the film Intermezzo by the Hollywood composer, Franz Waxman. Each has remarkably good recorded sound for the period, well transferred, if with some surface hiss.



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."



Jed Distler
ClassicsToday.com, March 2001

"Few violinists can even begin to approach Heifetz in the great Romantic showpieces for which he set formidable standards of technique, temperament, and taste. Henri Vieuxtemps' Fourth and Fifth Concertos are not just vehicles for star fiddlers, they're interesting works from the standpoint of form and orchestration whose four-movement game plans detoured from the three-movement concerto norm. Heifetz's lightening runs and coiled lyricism in Franz Waxman's Carmen Fantasy will give you as many goose bumps as the two Saint-Saëns works and Sarasate's delicious, show-offy Zigeunerweisen. While the transfers don't have the full dynamic range of RCA's restorations from prime source material, Mark Obert-Thorn's careful, honest remastering is as good as you can get from clean commercial 78 rpm pressings."



Benjamin Ivry
The Audiophile Voice

"In recent years the excellent sound engineer Mark Obert-Thorn has launched his own series of Heifetz transfers for Naxos, including some of his most important concerto performances, such as concertos by Tchaikovsky and William Walton. Audiophiles will be particularly seduced to hear the way Obert-Thorn managed to make the orchestral sound palpably richer and more present, without resorting to artificial techniques to beef it up."






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2:36:38 AM, 26 December 2014
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