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Sibelius, Prokofiev, Glazunov: Violin Concertos
Alexander Glazunov, Sergey Prokofiev, Jean Sibelius
Sibelius, Prokofiev, Glazunov: Violin Concertos
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

Daniel Heifetz put the Sibelius Violin Concerto on the map, and though there have been many great recordings of the work since this one, this is the version to have if you must limit yourself to a single performance. The c...  more »

     
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Daniel Heifetz put the Sibelius Violin Concerto on the map, and though there have been many great recordings of the work since this one, this is the version to have if you must limit yourself to a single performance. The couplings are equally fine, and equally brilliantly played. Heifetz was one artist whose standing was confirmed every time he picked up his instrument. He was the finest violinist of his day, period. Though not always the greatest interpreter of every piece he played, when music and artist meshed, as they do here, the result was the stuff of legend. --David Hurwitz

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CD Reviews

And I usually dislike Heifitz...
Maureen | 09/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Most of the time I have heard Heifitz recordings, I dislike him. He always seems to me as if his playing is the unwinding of a spring that's overtightened; one doesn't feel that he's living each note. But this CD changed my mind.I'm a violinist, and I played this CD to a violinist friend asking him to identify it. He identified the Sibelius from the very first 2 notes. (It is so, so beloved). Within 10 notes he knew the violinist was 'old school'. Within 20 he guessed Heifitz.We both marvelled at the accuracy of his double stops and his spicatto is unmatched. This CD is one of my car's 'top 5'."
Great Sibelius
A Classical Fan | New York, NY USA | 11/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Actually I like Heifetz's Sibelius much better than his legendary famous Tchaikovsky. To me, his Tchaikovsky was too much of driving speed and lacking in lyricism needed for Tchaikovsky, and not tonally spot-on especially in the fast passages in the first movement of Tchaikovsky.Ok ok, so here is Heifetz on Sibelius, I like his cool rendering which is totally excluding any nonsense. He sounds too fast at times, but you have to admit his unbelievably sharp edges. This is surely a great to have as one of many versions avaliable.Personally on the Sibelius, I recommend ones by Cho-Liang Lin, David Oistrakh, Midori, Anne-Sophie Mutter as the best. But if you would like to hear something totally different, here is one by the master.Also, this disc includes Prokofiev's Concerto No.2 and Glazunov's Concerto. Both are great. You can hear him being more eloquent and charming on Glazunov. 3 concertos in one, which makes this disc a bargain. It is great to go back to Heifetz once a while. Great Disc."
The "Iron Man" Rides Again
B. Tupper | Ramona, CA United States | 02/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When I was in college in the mid-50s, we used to go in to Los Angeles to hear Jasha Heifetz in recital. We called him "The Iron Man" somewhat in derision, both for his playing style and for his rigid stance on stage while playing. While in awe of his technique, we preferred the gentler, more "romantic" playing of David Oistrakh and Arthur Grumiaux and such.

But as I grew out of my teenage romantic fixation, and as my own playing frustrated and disappointed me more and more, I learned to appreciate the heart and skill Heifetz put into his work. This recording represents the "summa," I believe, of Heifetz' life work on the instrument. I think he is the only violinist who ever fully understood this score. And nowhere in violin literature is his absolute tonal precision in higher position attacks and in rapid double stops more essential to the musical outcome.

Recently a music professional recommended the Oistrakh to me as "the best Sibelius ever," and on that comment I decided to give it another hearing, but I found it disappointing in several respects. Among other things, I was distressed by Oistrakh's sloppy upper position attacks, often having to slide onto the pitch after first hitting the string a tad too low or too high, not to mention his generally sloppy pitch in the faster sections, and his tendency to play the piece as if he thought he were doing something by Brahms--often playing a light bow up near the finger board when he should have been pressing down closer to the bridge. (See my review of that recording at the Amazon Sibelius/Oistrakh listing).

Aside from Heifetz' technical skill, I am deeply moved by the assertive vigor of his approach and by the dark brooding intensity he brings to the work. Where Oistrakh plays as if strolling on a warm moonlit evening around a quiet lake, Heifetz plays as under dark clouds threatening a storm. The Chicago Symphony, under the direction of Walter Hendel, plays in perfect concert with the solo, as an equal partner, so that together they produce an organic unity of wonderful effect.

I have not listened to every extant recording of the Sibelius concerto, but this one stands high above every other I have heard. In comparison with Heifetz the others sound weak and indecisive, if not outright ignorant of the intent of the work. After Sibelius it was no longer possible to write a serious "Romantic" violin concerto, though many have tried. After Heifetz it is not possible to play this work in the romantic manner, though many continue to try.

About the program: This disk also contains the Prokofiev No. 2 and the Glazunov. I have never liked very much anything by Prokofiev. He too often sounds to me like Erik Satie with an earache. This work is a prime example of his urgently discordant nonsense. In spite of Heifetz' best efforts, it does not reach me. The Glazunov is a milder piece, not a lot of depth, but pleasingly melodic in many places, except the fourth movement is almost as bad as the Prokofiev.
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