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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.

Erik Levi
BBC Music Magazine, June 2001

"Another legendary Prokofiev recording is the 1937 performance of the Second Violin Concerto featuring Jascha Heifetz and the Boston SO under Serge Koussevitzky, superbly transferred to CD by Mark Obert-Thorn. Needless to say, Heifetz's delivery of the solo part is mesmerically brilliant in the finale, but the violinist also captures to perfection the lyrical nostalgia of theslow movement."

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."

Robert Cummings

"This has been for years touted as the definitive Prokofiev Second by a good many musicologists and record collectors. Recorded on December 20, 1937, three days after Heifetz and Koussevitsky gave the work its American premiere, it is riveting from first note to last. Naxos spares no expense here, using transfers by the esteemed Mark Obert-Thorn and intelligent notes by Tully Potter, not to mention a rare cover photo of Heifetz (from Potter's collection). In short, this production in every way is first-class. In the end, this must be counted as an important reissue, both for the performances and the high production values. Highly recommended."

Jim Svejda
Barnes & Noble

"Heifetz's version of the Prokofiev made with the Boston Symphony and Charles Munch was one of his finest stereo recordings, but this one, made in 1937 with the Boston Symphony conducted by Serge Koussevitzky, is even finer. Even through the dim acoustics -- made as bright as they have ever been by the incomparable Mark Obert-Thorn -- Koussevitzky brings both an intensity and an authority to the proceedings that no other conductor could match, while Pierre Monteux and his San Francisco Symphony are equally persuasive accomplices in the Gruenberg. Written for Heifetz during three weeks of 1943, this attractive, tuneful, eager-to-please work -- composed under the shadow of Gershwin's Concerto in F -- may have begun to show its age. Yet as long as its dedicatee is playing, it remains a fascinating time capsule of the period and shows a charming side of the violinist's personality that is often overlooked in the flurry of perfect notes."

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