Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


VIEUXTEMPS Violin Concerto No. 4
Heifetz/LPO/Barbirolli - rec 14 Mar 1935
VIEUXTEMPS Violin Concerto No. 5
Heifetz/LSO/Sargent - rec 8 Nov 1947
SAINT-SAENS Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
Heifetz/LPO/Barbirolli - rec 18 Mar 1935
Heifetz/LSO/Barbirolli - rec 9 Apr 1937
SARASATE Ziegeunerweisen
Heifetz/LSO/Barbirolli - rec 9 Apr 1937
WAXMAN Carmen Fantasy
Heifetz/RCA Victor Orch/Donald Voorhees
NAXOS Historical 8.110943 [76.53]
Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

The two Vieuxtemps concertos take up more than half of the playing time of this bulging disc. They are flighty showpieces, it is true, but their musical ideas are under-nourished and little stays with you despite the bathfuls of tone poured into them by Heifetz. I should not be too hard on them. The scherzo of No. 4 is not half bad and there is some feeling in the first movement of the Fifth Concerto which, for the whole concerto, only plays for a couple of minutes over the quarter hour. Does No. 5 seem better because it is shorter?

Saint-Saens has never been in the same musically starved category as Vieuxtemps, at least not in the shorter works for violin and orchestra (the three concertos are of a piece with the Vieuxtemps, I am afraid). Heifetz dispatches the two favourites of the 78 and LP era (when did you last hear them in concert?) with suaveness and invulnerable technique. He might, later in his career, have smothered Havanaise - draining it of any humanity. In 1937 he was still able to infuse the music with playfulness as well as warming allure. Much the same can be said of his I&RC. What a pity he did not take an interest in the too little heard Caprice Andalou which is every bit as good as the two works here. The Ziegeunerweisen - literally 'Gypsy Tunes' - rolls its eyes, shivers, smooches and accelerates in showers of sparks. Waxman, with Heifetz, one of the Californian elite, was commissioned by the violinist to produce this work which gave Heifetz the access to Carmen's glorious tunes. No doubt with Heifetz a senior partner the line and orchestration were adjusted as they went along to emphasise the fiddler's faultless tone and elegantly dancing fireworks. It is in good company with the Saint-Saens and Sarasate.

Heifetz collectors who have not fallen for much higher priced versions in the past will not and need not hesitate.

While the Vieuxtemps pieces really are pretty thin, musically speaking, the other pieces go down a treat. Prize tracks - Havanaise and the uproarious and outrageous Waxman.

Superb notes by Tully Potter who does not shrink from taking a pugnacious stance. Mark Obert-Thorn continues his attentive work in the service of the music and the avoidance of artificiality. Expect some hiss and crackle but expect also to forget it pretty soon.

Rob Barnett

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