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American Record Guide, December 2008

In the middle of the 20th Century violin aficionados divided into two camps, the Szigeti and the Heifetz. There were many other notable violinists, of course, but the differences between these two were so obvious and so extreme that they dominated conversation: athleticism or intelligence? tone or insight? To put matters in such a way is perhaps to prejudice the matter, but let that be. While both violinists performed concertos ancient and modern, Szigeti tended to be favored in concertos challengingly ancient or challengingly modern, while Heifetz, for whom it was all much the same, won the plaudits for established classics.

In Bach Szigeti is plainly preferable; he knew the music better and played it more expressively. In the Bach recordings heard here, recorded between 1946 and 1953, one can enjoy the Heifetz tone but there is not much to be said for the interpretation. The violinist is brisk where the music is sprightly and sentimental where the music is slow, and that about sums up his approach to interpretation. There is a novelty that commands attention, however—the 2-Violin Concerto recorded with Waxman in 1946, where Heifetz performs both parts. Imagine doing that in the days before tape! The Mozart concerto is more acceptable—sweetly romantic in ways the music can take.

Gramophone, October 2008

Naxos’s pin-sharp transfer add a “notorious” 1946 recording of Bach’s D minor Double Violin concerto where Heifetz doubles with himself (under Franz Waxman), tonally seductive if a little rigd, and the second of Heifetz’s three superb recordings of Mozart’s Turkish Concerto, under Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, August 2008

Heifetz only left behind these single examples of the Bach A minor and E major concertos. They were recorded with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Alfred Wallenstein in 1953. …Heifetz admirers will nevertheless welcome the reappearance of these performances at bargain price and in good transfers.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2008

It became fashionable among critics during the 1950’s to describe the performances from Jascha Heifetz as being of ‘steely brilliance’, a most unkind comment that was untrue.

Born in Lithuania in 1900, he was educated in St. Petersburg as a pupil of Leopold Auer, making his concert debut at the age of six, and by the age of twelve made a highly successful Berlin appearance in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Five years later he gave a sensational first appearance in New York, taking up United States citizenship eight years later. Though already a great violinists of his generation, he found plenty of competition in the States, and it was by perfecting technique that he stood out from the crowd. Many stories woven around him, the one that he was so gifted he hardly ever had to practice being nullified by a close working colleague who ‘never saw him without the violin under his chin’. Certainly today’s striving for technical perfection stems in some part from Heifetz, and though these recordings were made in the later part of his concert career, his playing remained immaculate. Since then the style of playing Mozart and Bach has changed greatly, and Heifetz’s view is now very much a thing of the past. Both of Bach’s well-known concertos are included together with the Double Concerto recorded at a time when the newly minted era of magnetic tape allowed him to overlay the disc with his performance of the second violin. He manages that difficult task of appearing as two very different violinists who converse in dialogue fashion. Those were recorded on the east American coast, the Double conducted by the film composer/conductor, Franz Waxman. For Mozart’s ‘Turkish’ Concerto he went to London with Malcolm Sargent conducting the LSO. It is a performance criticised by the sleeve note writer, though it turns out to be a genial account. The transfers are good, though they can do nothing to restore the lack of upper frequencies on the American recordings.

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