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Jascha Heifetz. Never-before-released and rare live recordings
Antonin DVORŃK (1841-1904)

Slavonic Dance Op 72 No 3
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)

Habañera Op 21 No 2
Tomaso VITALI (1663-1745)

Christian SINDING (1856-1941)

Suite in A Minor Op 10
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)

Capriccio-Valse Op 7
Scherzo-Tarantelle op 16
Concerto no 2 Ė Movements II and III
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)

Gayaneh - Sabre Dance
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)

La Capricieuse
Nicolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)

Caprice No 24 in A Minor
Jenö HUBAY (1858-1937)

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Meditation from Thaïs
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Oriental Sketch
Joseph ACHRON (1886-1943)

Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)

Tambourin Chinois
Jascha Heifetz, violin with
The Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra/Donald Voorhees
Emanuel Bay, piano (Khachaturian, Hubay, Rachmaninov, Achron)
Recorded Live c1944-1951


This miscellaneous Heifetz collection brings together live performances from the 1940s and 1950s in which he is partnered either by the dutiful Emanuel Bay or by Donald Voorhees and the Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra. It also inaugurates the first volume in an uneven but very worthwhile Heifetz series from the enterprising Mordecai Shehori and his Cembal díAmour label. Uneven because there are some aural problems here as well as arrangement limitations. These discs are necessary listening experiences, Heifetz, being Heifetz, and offer some intriguing sidelights on repertoire, commercialism, imperturbable virtuosity and repetitious encore literature. All of which might be surmised when one considers that except for the Khachaturian, Hubay, Rachmaninov and Achron all items are accompanied by orchestral arrangements of varying shades of bloatedness. This is assuredly not the fault of either Voorhees, a solid musician, or of Heifetz himself but is reflective of the material on the Bell Telephone Hour, much of which has thankfully survived and for which we have cause to be grateful. There are numerous high spots of course. He is razor sharp intonationally in Sarasate where for once the orchestra is rather less glutinous than usual; there is all Heifetzís accustomed intensity of expression, the trademark "Heifetz slides" and some swashbuckling virtuosity. He is rather backward in the balance in Vitaliís Chaconne in stark contradistinction to his slightly later commercial disc, one of the most close-up, glamorous and stunning violin records ever made. Here, back in 1948, he is technically surprisingly suspect, employs a couple of gulped downward portamenti, and lacks the commanding eloquence of the 1950 organ accompanied disc. It canít have helped that he was pursued by a serio-comic band arrangement that fails to convey stark intensity, substituting instead a remarkable talent for dissipating momentum just as itís needed. When the harp appeared Iím afraid I left and so should Heifetz.

He recorded the Sinding with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the cellist turned conductor Alfred Wallenstein in 1953 but itís still good to hear his ravishing way with it. What operatic intensity he brings to the Adagio, with a battery of slides, shadings and speeds of vibrato usage employed. Ignore the heavy accompaniment and feast your ears on Heifetz here and in the classically shaped finale where he plays with bold, slashing adventure. Maybe the Wieniawski Capriccio-Valse isnít immaculate but itís still chock-full of charm and panache and he spices the Khachaturian with plenty of pepper. Thereís lots of winning rubato in the Elgar showpiece (heíd already recorded it twice by the 1940s) and succulent tone but once more a fairly horrific orchestration almost saps it of conviction, as is the case with the Paganini where there is a problem at the end with a sudden tiny one-channel dropout. I liked the tempo for Hubayís Zephyr, a real Heifetz stunner if rather over emoted here but the Massenet, which Iím not sure he ever set down commercially, receives a cruelly subterranean recording, a real pity. In the Wieniawski Scherzo-Tarantelle and the abridged Second Concerto he is predictably dashing, full of tonal allure and variety.

Itís not quite clear from the documentation as to the source material used on this disc. Some has appeared on other labels over the years Ė LPs on the Masters of the Bow and the obscure Penzance labels for instance Ė but itís fascinating to have it collated here and if the arrangements are frequently lacklustre and worse, the original copies worn and occasionally recessed, Heifetz is always the scintillating centre of attention. So an uneven but still eventful start to the Heifetz recordings on Cembal díAmour.

Jonathan Woolf

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