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Violin Concertos: Great Violinists Heifetz Original recording remastered

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, March 20, 2001
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Vn Con No.2 in g, Op.63: Allegro Moderato
  2. Vn Con No.2 in g, Op.63: Andante Assai
  3. Vn Con No.2 in g, Op.63: Allegro, Ben Marcato
  4. Vn Con, Op.47: Moderately
  5. Vn Con, Op.47: With Simplicity And Warmth
  6. Vn Con, Op.47: Lively And With Good Humor


Product Details

  • Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Pierre Monteux, Sergey Koussevitzky
  • Composer: Louis Gruenberg, Sergey Prokofiev
  • Audio CD (March 20, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000542H1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,712 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Michael Brad Richman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 7, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I know many classical connoisseurs love the Naxos Historical series, but I have only managed to pick up a handful of them so far. While I love old mono recordings, anything that was originally produced in the pre-LP era just doesn't sound that great to me. Anyway, I made an exception with this title because I love violinist Jascha Heifetz. I only became a serious collector of classical music recently so I missed many of the titles in RCA/BMG's "The Heifetz Collection" when they were widely available. Now most of those titles fetch outrageous prices in the Amazon Marketplace because of their scarcity. One such disc is Volume 21 featuring performances of the Walton and Gruenberg Violin Concertos. However, that very same Walton performance recently became available on a BMG Import two-disc set devoted to the composer. Needless to say I snatched it up (at a sane price to boot), and then bought this Naxos title in order to get the Gruenberg. The style of the Gruenberg Concerto is very reminiscent of Gershwin in that it features elements of swing-era jazz incorporated into a classical setting. It is an enjoyable piece but certainly not a must have for the casual fan. The bonus with this Naxos CD is the opportunity to hear Heifetz's original mono recording of Prokofiev's 2nd Concerto from 1937 with Koussevitsky leading the BSO. The standard bearer of this work for me has always been Heifetz's 1959 stereo remake with Charles Munch leading the Bostonians. It was wonderful to finally compare the two performances, especially since they not only feature the same violinist, but also the same orchestra. While it is a fascinating account, alas it does not dethrone the stereo version. Though in the future, I will have to consider Naxos Historical CDs more seriously because they do offer some of the greatest performances of the 78 era, in surprisingly good sound and at very reasonable prices.
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Format: Audio CD
Contrary to the opinion expressed in the previous critique, I have a very different view of the Gruenberg Concerto especially. I agree the Munch Prokofiev version is the best of Heifetz's efforts, but this one is a treat to listen to, especially to compare the more mature artist of later years. As for the Gruenberg, one of the reasons it is not played is its immense technical difficulties. As far as I know, only recently, in Japan, has there been a performance, (a decent one, but not Heifetz level). As to its merits, I wholly disagree with the other reviewer. Not only is it a wonderful, jazzy and Americana-ish piece, but the extraordinary performance by Heifetz is something to marvel at completely separate from the concerto's qualities. Quite frankly, I think I can only name one violinist up to the technical pace of Heifetz, (but not the musicianship), and that would be Kogan. You have to hear it to believe it. I'm a bit stunned by the kind of glib dismissal of the Gruenberg...like a lot of music, it needs several listens to appreciate it fully. It is longish, with some areas that might stand some editing, but like Vaughan Williams first symphony, the original version has wonderful bits that beg listening, and its a shame that he had to edit it. The same would be true for this piece (the Gruenberg). If you want to hear what a violin can do, in both technical virtuosity and wonderful, innovative musicianship, then own the Gruenberg. You won't regret it.
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