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Jascha Heifetz Live.
Volume 4: Never before published and rare live recordings

Introducing Mr Heifetz
Maurice RAVEL

Tzigane *
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Suite No. 3 in D – Second Movement; Air on the G string *
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1659-1695)

Violin Concerto in D No. 4 K218 #
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)

Violin Sonata No.3 in C minor Op.45 – Allegro espressivo alla Romanza +
Grigoras DINICU

Hora Staccato arr. Heifetz *

Flight of the Bumble-Bee <

Paraphrase on Largo al Factotum from The Barber of Seville arr. Castelnuovo- Tedesco*

Londonderry Air +

Gweedore Brae *

Poème *

Zapateado *
Jascha Heifetz (violin)
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Serge Koussevitzky #
The Bell Telephone Orchestra/Donald Voorhees *
The Bell Telephone Orchestra/Robert Armsbruster <
Emmanuel Bay (piano) +
Recorded 1942-1950s
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD120 [72.23]


Mordecai Shehori’s Cembal d’amour label has now reached Volume 4 in its tribute series devoted to Jascha Heifetz’s less tractable off-air and Bell Telephone Hour broadcast performances. He recorded most, but not quite all, these pieces commercially (I can’t trace the Londonderry Air and the Bach in his discography) and they make fine ancillary companions, though in truth Heifetz was, in the main, a sumptuously predictable – maybe "consistent" is as appropriately apt - stylist. These live performances don’t depart very much from established Heifetzian orthodoxies of interpretation.

That said, who could fail to admire so much that is here. His orchestrally accompanied Tzigane may be more familiar from the Los Angeles-Wallenstein recording – the piano-accompanied recordings were with Brooks Smith (from 1972) and Sándor from 1934. We get to hear some luscious and guttural bowing courtesy of the over-skewed orchestral balance and if the orchestra under Voorhees sounds a bit wooden Heifetz makes up for it. A different level of accompaniment is provided by Koussevitzky who vests the opening of the Mozart Concerto in D with combative military accents – nice and trenchant – but Heifetz’s view is pretty much recognisable from his recordings with Beecham and Sargent. There are many who still swear by Heifetz’s Mozart but I always find that it lacks Szigeti’s poise or Grumiaux’s naturalness and a harrying inclination for breathless tempi (as here in the finale). There are a few moments of technical insecurity in the slow movement. Rather than those discs with Beecham and Sargent it would have been advantageous for Heifetz to have recorded with Barbirolli and to have continued the august sequence of recordings they’d made together in London before the War though, quite rightly from all accounts, Barbirolli refused to have anything to do with the violinist after some boorish behaviour from Heifetz towards the distinguished oboist Henri de Busscher in Los Angeles.

A Grieg C minor Sonata has recently emerged from the archives (RCA Victor), which rather excuses the scrappy and ill-disciplined example of the slow movement here with the less than inspiring Emmanuel Bay. Those Heifetz finger intensifications sound more than usually mechanical and he is on unusually poor form technically (poor bow sustenance, inaccurate pizzicati, some fluffs). The dazzling Dinicu-Heifetz Hora Staccato is here, though it’s pursued by the dogged Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra. The Rossini-Castelnuovo-Tedesco and the folk song Gweedore Brae were coupled on a Brunswick 78 (and the former was once released by The Strad) and Heifetz was playing both frequently in 1944. Gweedore Brae is a big favourite of mine – if you think he couldn’t play a folk song with simplicity think again – but here we have a less incisive and rather bloated band to follow him. The Rossini arrangement is in rather unkindly boxy sound. The Chausson is, with the Mozart, the most prestigious recording here. From 1951 and once more with the Bell Telephone Orchestra under Voorhees it reveals all Heifetz’s powers of persuasive intensity and suavity. Most will know the RCA Victor/Solomon disc though I have a soft spot for the Sanromá/Musical Arts Quartet recording.

Though not all is gold here, there’s plenty that Heifetz admirers will want. Inimitable and unignorable he continues to excite and this series continues to provoke and entertain.

Jonathan Woolf

Volume 5


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