S0471. JASCHA HEIFETZ, w.Steinberg Cond.: Symphonie espagnole (Lalo); Introduction & Rondo capriccioso (Saint-Saëns); w.Solomon Cond.: Poème (Chausson); Concerto #2 in d (Wieniawski); w.Wallenstein Cond.: Tzigane (Ravel); Sérénade mélancolique (Tchaikovsky). (Germany) Naxos 8.111363, recorded 1951-54. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. - 747313336326
“Heifetz was universally acclaimed as the violinist of the century. But for many, that wasn’t enough. Even his harshest detractors had to admit that Jascha Heifetz had the greatest technique in history (and the few recordings of his concerts prove that his precision wasn’t a studio fabrication)….Rather than embrace mellow maturity, Heifetz maintained throughout his half-century career the fleet precision of his initial fame….Throughout his career, Heifetz projected his sensational technique and pure tone with affirmative athletic confidence. Even in his last performances, he sounds like the most youthful violinist on record….For most artists, recording quality is at best a secondary concern. But with Heifetz it’s crucial, since the exquisite subtlety of his tone was such an essential part of his artistry….Although his fame arose when the 1900s had barely begun, no artist in the last 80 years has displaced Heifetz as ‘the violinist of the century’….his fabulous recorded legacy reminds us why.”
- Peter Gutmann, CLASSICAL NOTES
“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).