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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Heifetz made his first historic recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Beecham in 1935, a reading that set standards in virtuosity for generations to come. Next to many later recording, it may be short on mystery, but the passion as well as the brilliance of the playing is very clear, with balanced but the surface hiss is intrusive at times. But despite Sir Thomas’s direction, Heifetz gave the more powerful account of it in early days of stereo...

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Heifetz’s first (mono) recording of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, made in 1937, as tremendous virtuosity and warmth. The sound is opaque by modern standards but the ear quickly adjusts, and the performance is special even by Heifetz’s own standards. The Naxos transfer, too, is very good and, coming as it does with a classic account of the Glazunov and a fascinating Sibelius, this is a fine bargain.

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Heifetz is in a class of his own. The Concerto was recorded in 1935 with the young John Barbirolli, with whom Heifetz formed a strong rapport. It finds him at his most spontaneously lyrical, reveling in the rhapsodic argument. The central Romance in particular is magnetic is its hushed, meditative intensity, with the finale swaggering confidently. The sound is perhaps less vivid than the best recording of the day, but both transfers are very good.

Rober Moon
Strings Magazine, March 2002

"Sweeter and even more dramatic than the stereo 1958 Reiner remake."

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."

Peter M. Knapp
The Patriot Ledger, April 2001

"On price alone, the CD containing the Tchaikovsky, Wieniawski and Sibelius concertos, all masterpieces of the genre, is a huge bargain. Although the orchestral sound hasn't the clarity and glamour of today's recordings, engineer Mark Obert-Thorn has admirably cleaned up and transferred the 78 recordings, warmly reproducing Heifetz's tone. These performances belie the notion that Heifetz was technically dazzling but expressively chilly. His interpretations combine emotional sizzle and the rarified technical finesse that made Heifetz a legend."

Lawson Taitte
The Dallas Morning News, March 2001

"Naxos has interestingly chosen the first of his recordings, with Eugene Goossens and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The soloist blazes his way through it, and this remains the only recording of its original version. Both transfers to CD sound a lot better than you would expect from recordings originally made in the 1940's."

Robert Baxter
Courier-Post, March 2001

"[Heifetz] draws such a firm musical line and inflects it with such masterful dynamic shadings, the listener is immediately captivated by the passionate sweep of his playing."

Fr├ęderic Cardin
La Scena Musicale

"Naxos nous permet, maintenant, d'avoir accès à des trésors inestimables d'enregistrements historiques à prix dérisoires. Remarquez la précision du jeu, coupé au scalpel, ces notes, brillantes comme un diamant au soleil, qui dégagent une chaleur qui vous traverse. Heifetz possède une articulation qui dépasse la mécanique précise tout en réussissant à exprimer davantage. Barbirolli conduit le Philharmonique de Londres sans inhibition. Le Wieniawsky et le Tchaikovski sont superbes."

Jed Distler

"Little can be added to what's been written over the years about Jascha Heifetz's supremacy in these works, except to stress that what we have here are his 78 rpm versions of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos... the violinist's EMI traversals from the 1930s sound fine for their vintage, and the Sibelius and Wieniawski recordings are particularly well balanced. Rehearing the Wieniawski after many years, I was quite taken with Heifetz's rich, sustained phrasing in the slow movement, surrounded by first-rate solo wind playing. ...Mark Obert-Thorn's Tchaikovsky and Sibelius transfers are superior to what EMI Références issued in the late 1980s...totally listenable and well effected, and well worth Naxos' modest asking price."

Peter Gutmann
Classical Notes

"The result is not just a vastly more enjoyable listening experience, but far more important - it compels reevaluation of Heifetz's extraordinary artistry."

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