Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


WALTON Violin Concerto
ELGAR Violin Concerto
Jascha Heifetz (violin)
LSO/Malcolm Sargent (Elgar) rec 6 June 1949
Cincinnati SO/Eugene Goossens (Walton) rec 18 Feb 1941
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110939 Great Violinists [69.00]
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At first glance I thought this was a rerun of RCA Victor GD 87966 (c1988). Not a bit of it. OK this is the same Elgar though taken down, as is the Walton, from good condition issued black discs rather than metal masters. While the Elgar is the same as the RCA the Walton is the world premiere recording not the 1950 composer-conducted revised version. The Goossens is the only disc of the original version. Differences between the Walton versions are not that drastic. Tully Potter's notes (no room for claiming that budget discs cut corners on notes or for that matter on transfer contractors - they retain Mark Obert-Thorn) indicate that the original version had a different orchestration with a heavier percussion element. Previously issued on Biddulph this one has been very cleanly transferred with that suggestion of richness of tone of soloist and orchestra well put across. Also the crumbly orchestral sound (always subservient in a Heifetz recording) does seem less aged. The tonal depth delivered by 1950 technology is well worth having for the Walton but there is surprisingly little to choose between the two versions if you concentrate on the solo line.

The Elgar is amongst my favourite versions and has been ever since I chanced my arm and spent £1.99 on a secondhand RCA LP in Bristol's Hancock and Monks in 1980. I also commend the derided Haendel version (now available on Testament) and the Accardo (also good in the Walton). The Naxos mastering has a rewarding bloom to the sound which was absent from the RCA disc. The difference is not as extreme as the excellent work done by Naxos in their recent Tchaikovsky Sibelius Heifetz disc when compared with the much poorer EMI Références CD. However it is noticeable and worth having especially at bargain price.

Rob Barnett

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