JASCHA HEIFETZ/London Philharmonic Orchestra
Two CDs of major importance, and at budget price! In their Great ViolinistsHeifetz series Naxos is offering the legendary master's early concerto recordings in natural-sounding transfers that could not be bettered. Here is the first of the three recordings Heifetz made of the Tchaikovsky, recorded March 25, 1937 in England, his first recording of Wieniawski's Second Concerto, recorded March 18, 1935 in England, both with Barbirolli and the London Philharmonic. Of particular interest is the Sibelius recorded in two sessions in November and December 1935 with Sir Thomas Beecham and the LPO, one year after Heifetz tried to record it with Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The two could not agree on how it should be played and Heifetz refused to permit it to be released. Supposedly all masters were destroyed....until one test pressing, in poor condition, was discovered and the Philadelphia Orchestra included it in their Centenary Album.
The second CD is a major issue. Both concertos are among their composer's finest creations. Walton wrote his concerto for Heifetz who worked with the composer on expanding the solo part. The world premiere was given in Cleveland December 7, 1939 with Heifetz and Artur Rodzinski on the podium. As Columbia had Rodzinski and the Clevelanders under contract and Heifetz was strictly RCA, the concerto was recorded in February 1941 with Eugene Goossens and the Cincinnati Symphony. This is an important recording as it is the only one of the original version; later Walton made some changes which are heard in all other recordings as well as the one he conducted himself, with Heifetz and the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1950.
Elgar's concerto had long been a favorite of Heifetz; he studied and performed it in the late 1920s. The concerto was recorded by Albert Sammons in 1929 and three years later the teenage Yehudi Menuhin made his famous recording with Elgar on the podium; with this competition there was no economic justification for yet another recording. In 1949 Heifetz finally made his recording, with Sir Malcolm Sargent and the London Symphonyand no other recording before or since has equaled it.
Mark Obert-Thorn's transfers are perfection. Heifetz's gleaming tone sounds very natural, and there is little to suggest that these are from 78rpm originals. What an incredible bargain are these Naxos reissues! For less than half the cost of just one of these concertos when originally issued we now have both of them sounding better than ever.
R.E.B. (October 2001)