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David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2012

The world first came to know Jascha Heifetz through his numerous recordings of short pieces. It was not until his mid-thirties that he made a concerto recording, though from his debut at the age of six the musical world was in awe of his performances of the most famous concertos. Born in Lithuania in 1900, he was already touring to major concert venues in Europe in his early teenage years, though it was to be in the United States that he eventually found sanctuary from the political turmoil that followed the First World War. The expected applause that followed his concerts was always rewarded by some of his vast catalogue of encores, this first volume showing the extent of his musical affections. He readily moves from the classicism of the Brahms’ Hungarian Dances; through the popular appeal of William Kroll’s Banjo and Fiddle; contemporary music with an extract from Stavinsky’s The Firebird; the totally unknown third of the Songs of Shakespeare by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and ending with an excerpt from Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo. Along the way we hear the unfamiliar three movement A Song Sonata from the American composer, Robert Russell Bennett, and a very charming Fairy Tale by Medtner. It almost goes without saying that the performances are superb, Heifetz’s left hand agility quite phenomenal even in today’s world where we take virtuosity for granted. He also supplied most of the arrangements we hear, all made in the best of tastes. Brooks Smith and Emanuel Bay share the responsibility of playing quite difficult piano parts, and simply keeping in contact with him in his most mercurial moments. All the recordings were made in the RCA Hollywood Studios between 1946 and 1956, and here beautifully remastered. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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