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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61.
Johannes BRAHMS
Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77.
Jascha Heifetz (violin); NBC Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Toscanini (Beethoven); Boston Symphony Orchestra/Serge Koussevitzky (Brahms).
Naxos Historical 8.110936 [AAD] [76'39]
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Mark Obert-Thorn has effected excellent transfers of these Heifetz performances (both originally issue on Victor). Despite their age (the Beethoven dates from March 1940, the Brahms from April 1939), a multitude of orchestral details are clearly audible.

The most impressive of these two concerto accounts is the Brahms, in which Heifetz is powerfully accompanied by Koussevitzky and the Boston orchestra. The BSO plays with real vehemence and there is a true partnership between soloist and conductor. The cadenza in the first movement is Heifetz' version of the Auer, and it is quite an achievement that he maintains interest in it from first note to last. The Adagio possesses drama as well as lyricism and there is real grit to the finale.

The Beethoven is perhaps less of a success, due in no short measure to Toscanini's relentless account of the orchestral part. His nickname of 'the bandmaster' seems to fit like a glove and somehow the pair never gets to the heart of the piece. Although the Larghetto starts tenderly, it soon relapses into the run-through of the first movement.

Well worth acquiring for the Brahms.


Colin Clarke




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