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Pristine Audio Direct

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Violin Sonata No.1 in A major Op.13 (1875-77) [21.27]
Jascha Heifetz (violin)
Emanuel Bay (piano)
rec. 1936

Heifetz 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 player.
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.
Comparison, 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.
Jonathan Woolf


Pristine Audio Direct



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