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Jascha Heifetz Live.
Volume 5: Never before published and rare live recordings

Lionel Barrymore introduces Jascha Heifetz
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Hungarian Dance No.1 in G (arr. Joachim)

Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
The Swan +

Levee Dance

Violin Concerto No. 2 – Second Movement

Suite; March Ado About Nothing – March

Four Pieces Op.32 - Gavotte +
Romeo and Juliet Op.75 – Pieces No. 5; Masques #

Beau Soir +
Clair de Lune

Violin Concerto – Second Movement

Giant Hills
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Edouard LALO

Symphonie Espagnole Op.21 – Andante
Maurice RAVEL

Habanera +

Romanza Andaluza
Jascha Heifetz (violin)
The Bell Telephone Orchestra/Donald Voorhees *
Emmanuel Bay (piano) +
Milton Kaye (piano) #
Recorded 1943-50
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD121 [63.06]

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No sooner has Volume 4 of this series hit the shops and Internet warehouses than Volume 5 is out. The recipe is much as before – though this time less complete works and rather more in the shape of extracts. So we get the central movements only of two works closely associated with Heifetz: the concertos of Castelnuovo-Tedesco (No. 2) and Gruenberg. But we get a sumptuous array of encore material in more of less decent sound, considering the circumstances (non-commercial) of preservation.

After Lionel Barrymore’s fruitily voiced introduction we open with some Brahms. Though the documentation doesn’t disclose the exact provenance of any of these recordings this Hungarian Dance is derived from a Concert Hall broadcast for Armed Forces Radio made in Los Angeles in January 1945 and was once available on a Rococo LP. Those who swear by the Steinberg-led Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso probably haven’t heard the 1935 Barbirolli disc. Even so this 1945 performance is full of Heifetz’s enormous and sumptuous flair, a sense of luscious intimacy and panache – with Heifetz slides (unmistakeable) and finger position changes of intensity and heat. Heifetz recorded, one way or another, quite a bit of Castelnuovo-Tedesco, including his major commitment, the Second Concerto, with Wallenstein in 1954 (a recording of the First under Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra hasn’t, to my knowledge, yet surfaced. Let’s hope.) This live broadcast of the second movement is full of great delicacy and intimately soaring lyricism as well as magnetic sweep. The aural imperfections of occluded orchestral contributions – and they are in any case a little untidy – are no hindrance at all.

Beau Soir comes with his characteristic hooded and muted intensity and Clair de Lune though familiar from the Bay disc of 1945, represents a slightly later take on it. The well-chosen dance selection proves enticing as well, though all will be familiar from commercial discs. Good to hear Gruenberg’s concerto movement (only the second movement is here) as it’s never struck me as bad as people say it is – certainly not in a performance as evocative as this one. The Lalo is grave and dramatic and not at all Francophile in orientation but lovers of Americana will applaud the sliver of Burleigh and C. C. White’s Plenty o’ Nuttin impression in his Levee Dance with its Joshua fit quotation. To end we have a Heifetz blockbuster, Sarasate’s Romanza Andaluza. Having listened to eighteen different recordings of it one evening recently – for reasons too dull for me to go into – ranging from Armida Senatra in about 1910 to Michael Rabin in about 1950 I can say with some authority that Heifetz has never been matched here.

Jonathan Woolf

Volume 4


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