MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano
CD 1: No. 1 in D, Op. 12 No. 1a (1797/98) [16:23]; No. 2 in A, Op. 12 No. 2a (1797/98} [15:49]; No. 3 in E flat, Op. 12 No. 3b (1797/98) [18:12]; No. 4 in A minor, Op. 23b (1800) [18:12]
CD 2: No. 5 in F, Op. 24, “Spring”a (1801) [17:37]; No. 6 in A, Op. 30 No. 1b (1801/2) [21:57]; No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30 No. 2c (1801/02) [23:23]
CD 3: No. 8 in G, Op. 30 No. 3b (1801/02) [17:33]; No. 9 in A, Op. 47, “Kreuzer”d (1803) [31:04]; No. 10 in G, Op. 96 (1812) [21:58]
Jascha Heifetz (violin); abcEmanuel Bay, dBenno Moisewitsch (pianos)
rec. a1947, b1952, c1950, d1951
ISTITUTO DISCOGRAFICO ITALIANO IDIS6560/2 [3 CDs: 68:28 + 63:14 + 71:41] 


Experience Classicsonline

Good to see this set available. The set is sturdily housed in a box. The booklet gives recording dates - year only - and a brief essay by Danilo Prefumo, so documentation tends towards the slim. Transfers are generally very good although the remastering engineer is not named.

The first Sonata finds Heifetz in relaxed mood. Technically, he is magnificent. Emanuel Bay’s accompaniments are on the faceless side, though – he is an accompanist rather than a partner. Even when presenting the theme in the second movement (a Tema con variazioni), there is the feeling of a half-voice from Bay, of a personality withheld, wilfully or otherwise. The central movement exemplifies the difference between the two players perfectly – Bay presents, Heifetz explores with ferocious curiosity. 

Interesting to compare these accounts of the Op. 12 Sonatas with an early instrument approach, that evinced by Jos van Immerseel and Midori Seiler on Zig-Zag Térritoires ZZT 070802. While one might think the approaches are diametrically opposed, one need only compare Heifetz and Seiler in Op. 12/2 to hear that Heifetz is absolutely in style, playful as can be when called upon to be so. The difference in quality between the two performances lies rather in the keyboardist. Jos van Immerseel plays on a Christopher Clarke copy of a Viennese Walther and is a paragon of style and character. Emanuel Bay is much less of a personality, and his semiquavers in the first movement are rather fudged, certainly in comparison to Immerseel. 

It is for moments that reveal Heifetz’s pure tone and purity of expression such as the opening of the second movement of the A major that many will wish to acquire this set. Rightly so – this is playing of the highest beauty, and, for once, Bay is up there with him. The whole movement is mesmeric. The brief (4:08) finale is full of A-major joie-de-vivre. Heifetz’s staccati are a source of much joy here. The E flat, Op. 12 No. 3, boasts a first movement that fully acknowledges the “con spirito” direction. There is an openness of communication here that outshines the period instrumentalists Immerseel/Seiler, plus some simply stunning playing from both players - the scalic interchanges around the five minute mark of the first movement, for example. Certainly Heifetz/Bay take the emotional laurels in a spellbinding Adagio con molta espressione. Heifetz’s occasional use of portamento expertly avoids the sentimental. 

The A minor Sonata, Op. 23 has always been one of the less popular of Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas, possibly because of the slightly restrained nature of its first movement. Yet the central Andante scherzoso, più Allegretto is marvellously intimate as well as slyly playful – both Heifetz and Bay are reading from the same script as far as this is concerned. 

Come the second disc, the first really famous Beethoven Sonata finds Heifetz in stunning form. The “Spring” sonata is gloriously played by the violinist. Bay is good, technically secure and the ideal gentleman accompanist, not bringing his character to the fore too much – a shame in a work that relies on true partnership. I hold a special affection for Perlman and Ashkenazy in this piece - currently on Decca Originals 475 7509 - who are more laid-back in the first movement where Heifetz and Bay press forward too much. Heifetz and Bay’s second movement is far better than their first – here one stops listening to and admiring Heifetz’s technique and starts listening to Beethoven. The scampering Scherzo finds both players delighting in cross-rhythms; a pity wit could not be part of the finale. Again, the occasional portamento might raise an eyebrow. 

The recording of the light A major, Op. 30 No. 1 dates from 1952. The highlight of this sonata is the Adagio molto espressivo, with its operatic phrases, moulded impeccably by Heifetz. The difference in stature between Heifetz and Bay does come through in the finale, though. The C minor seems to act as the A major’s alter ego. The recording is from a couple of years earlier. The energy of C minor suits Heifetz perfectly, and he revels in this especially when that energy is distilled into the lower dynamic levels. Of all the sonatas to date, it is this Sonata’s slow movement (Adagio cantabile) that finds the violinist on absolutely spell-binding form. Again, Bay cannot equal his accomplishment, which shows particularly when the instruments imitate one another. One needs performers of equal musical character here - as in Kremer/Argerich or Busch/Serkin. Neither can Heifetz and Bay quite capture the demonic humour of the Scherzo. The Finale fares better, its shifting moods accurately reflected.

The final disc begins with Op. 30 No. 3, which finds Heifetz in lively form. Bay feels too much in the background. Heifetz gives a memorable account of the solo part, including some magnificent phrasing and marvellously toned playing in the central Tempo di menuetto. That said, one would never guess the minuet link – Heifetz and Bay take the composer’s qualifier, “ma molto moderato e grazioso” a trifle too much to heart. The brief (3:20) finale is actually the most successful - full of vim.

Interesting that the only sonata in which Heifetz is joined by a significant pianist in  his own right is the “Kreutzer” Sonata. Comparison with the 1930 Bronislaw Huberman/Ignaz Friedman is apt here, as in each case a great violinist is joined by a pianist of equal stature. The Huberman is available on Naxos Historical 8.110736, Volume 4 of the complete Friedman, and includes an alternative take of Side One: the first movement – one was issued in the USA, one in the UK. Huberman is astonishingly proficient technically and simultaneously seems to go straight to the heart of Beethoven’s thought. For Huberman and Friedman, the finale is a stunning sequence of roulades punctuated by moments of still clarity, and in Ward Marston’s expert transfer the whole sonata is simply magnificent. The recording accorded to Heifetz and Moisewitsch is predictably clearer. The approach is a dynamic one, and the increased force of personality of his accompanist - certainly in comparison with Bay - makes for the most powerful performance of the entire set. The two instrumentalists seem to be sparking off one another rather than having the pianist in an overtly subservient role, an approach that suits this piece perfectly. The extended set of variations boasts some delicious playing from Moisewitsch, with Heifetz more than happy to take a back seat as required. The finale really is a Presto, and a helter-skelter one at that – yet it includes moments of tenderness, too. Just occasionally there is the feeling that Heifetz is skitting across the surface, treating it as he might an encore piece, for show.

Finally, Op. 96, a G-major outpouring that finds Heifetz in remarkably unbuttoned mood. The first movement contains much delicacy, and so foreshadows the beautiful Adagio espressivo, which Heifetz and Bay make into five minutes of pure joy – they also seem to link directly to the moments of calm in the finale. Here the clean, silent transfer really comes into its own.

To be welcomed on many levels, then, but take it on Heifetz’s terms. There are others more Beethovenian in this repertoire, to be sure, but this remains an important document.

Colin Clarke



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.