S0477. JASCHA HEIFETZ, w.Walton Cond. Philharmonia Orch.: Violin Concerto (Cond. by the Composer); w.Steinberg Cond.: Havanaise (Saint-Saëns); w.Wallenstein Cond.: Suite, Op.10 (Sinding); 'The Prophets' Concerto #2 (Castelnuovo-Tedesco). (Germany) Naxos 8.111367, recorded 1950-54. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. - 747313336722
“…the Walton/Castelnuovo-Tedesco coupling opens with what is still the greatest account of Walton’s magnificent work we are ever like to experience, with Heifetz at the very top of his form and the composer conducting the Philharmonia at a time when it was one of the world’s greatest orchestras. This performance is irreplaceable, and is alone worth the price of the disc, which is completed by rare shorter pieces by Saint-Saëns and Sinding, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Second Concerto, written for Heifetz and premiered by him and Toscanini in 1931 (according to Tully Potter’s admirable notes). These other works are all extremely well played (and very well conducted by Steinberg and Wallenstein), but one has to agree with the majority decision that the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concerto deserves a permanent place on the library shelf – it is a weak and derivative score, albeit brilliantly written for the soloist…. most of these performances (especially the Ravel) are frequently dumbfounding in their virtuosity and are truly part of our art’s profound performing heritage….”
- Robert Matthew-Walker, CLASSICAL RECORDINGS QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011
"William Walton’s Violin Concerto, heard here in its revised version in a now legendary recording conducted by the composer, was undoubtedly Jascha Heifetz’s most successful commission. Like the other Romantic works on this disc by Camille Saint-Saëns and Christian Sinding, it perfectly suited Heifetz’s polished elegance and scintillating virtuosity. Written for and premièred by Heifetz, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Second Violin Concerto was described by the composer as ‘a kind of Biblical concerto, an evocation of times in the glorious past’. Although the work predates the composer’s Hollywood days by seven years, any one of the three movements, which portray the Old Testament prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah, would not be out of place as part of the soundtrack to an epic, Biblical film."
“Some listeners found [Heifetz] profound, noble and aristocratic, while others considered him cold, emotionless, and superficial. The recurring criticism that he played without emotion prompted Heifetz to hire a publicist in 1935, but he never shook the image. In 1940, music critic Virgil Thomson wrote a notorious review entitled ‘Silk Underwear Music’ which accused Heifetz of ‘empty elegance’ and said his ‘machine-tooled’ performances had ‘no musical or emotional significance’. This, despite acknowledging Heifetz' ‘silken tone’, ‘famous double stops’, and ‘true pitch’. No, Heifetz' conception of music was ‘embarrassingly refined’, hence the reference to silk underwear.”
– Christopher M. Wright (referencing Thomson‘s notorious 1940 ‘Silk Underwear Music’ review).