may not be everyone’s first choice as a Fauré player. Indeed
he may not have been back in 1936. However, his lithe and
scintillating spin on the sonata occupies its own warm niche.
A writer on the Pristine Audio website stakes a place for
it above the Thibaud/Cortot but he drives this reviewer to
ire by denigrating the sensuous Gallic charms of the violinist.
It’s a pity that Alfred Dubois – Grumiaux’s teacher – was
never asked to record it; his Franck and Debussy recordings
were wonderful so we have lost out. Fortunately Denise Soriano
did record it with Magda Tagliaferro and their recording
is special - though not currently available. As a chamber
meeting it is superior to the driver-and-coaches balance
accorded Heifetz and Bay. I’ve just heard, as I write these
words, that Soriano died in March of this year (2006) at
the age of ninety. She was a Boucherit pupil and a wonderful
Still, what we have is
twenty-one minutes of music issued at Pristine Audio’s new
pricing structure – see their website for details. Collectors
will note that this performance was released on Biddulph
LAB065 in transfers by Jon Samuels back in 1992. The coupling
was the second Grieg sonata, neatly wrapping up two of Heifetz’s
less well known sonata recordings of the 1930s.
I have to say, favours the older release. The sound there
is a touch noisy with a deal of HMV shellac crackle. The
compensations are an airy openness at the top. Heifetz’s
tone is caught better throughout its range. Here, as well,
the piano accents of Emanuel Bay tend to be submerged in
noise reduction and the attaca brio is smoothed out.
In the scherzo the razory brilliance of the violinist becomes
rather amorphous and the concentration on noise suppression
has been to drain colour and detail.