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Brahms: Violin Concerto, op77 / Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, op35 Hybrid SACD, Original recording remastered

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Brahms: Violin Concerto, op77 / Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, op35 + Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto 1 / Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto 2 + Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Fritz Reiner
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky
  • Audio CD (22 Aug 2005)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, Original recording remastered
  • Label: RCA Living Stereo
  • ASIN: B0009U55RE
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,433 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Allegro Non Troppo
2. Adagio
3. Allegro Giocoso, Ma Non Troppo Vivace
4. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35
5. Canzonetta: Andante
6. Allegro Vivacissimo

Product Description

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Mar 2013
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These recordings made in 1955 (Brahms) and 1957 (Tchaikovsky) have been much improved in the latest remastering. The Brahms in particular has been greatly improved and has lost its earlier boxy sound, slightly dead acoustics and shrillness on moments of greatest dynamics.

The Brahms is a fleet performance which has an accompanying fluency of delivery that almost defies the restrictions of bar lines. This is especially true of the slow movement which is played almost like a free improvisation. The last movement is driven fast but not allowed to sound like gypsy music. The first movement is fast enough for the instruction 'ma non troppo' (not too much) to be pushed to the limit. Such is the transcendence of the playing that it overcomes any doubts and this has been a long-time favourite performance for me while realising that it is also something of a one-off. Heifetz plays his own cadenza in the first movement which is spectacular but is arguably less satisfying than Joachim's which is normally played and as Brahms would have expected. Magical moments where Heifetz plays sustained high melodic lines with such unique tone are still breathtaking.

The Tchaikovsky is also fleet. This is more of a deliberately virtuoso concerto and Heifetz delivers totally. There are a few passages of double stopping that are unique to this disc but there is no explanation as to whether they have been added in or are original bars not played by anyone else. The connection between Heifetz and Tchaikovsky is that Heifetz's teacher, Leopold Auer, was the dedicatee who initially refused to play the piece and pronounced it as unplayable. He later revised this verdict, after which the connection was made with Heifetz.
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By mciver on 8 Sep 2014
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 17 reviews
57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Legendary performances in sound that shows what's going on 1 May 2006
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on Amazon.com
While I believe the Brahms violin concerton is the "Emporer" of violin concertos -- principally for its well-developed architecture -- I never cared much for Heifitz's version of the concerto. Although his early stereo recording with the Chicago Symphony and Reiner was played up to his standard, I always thought their collaboration produced an impatient recording, as if they couldn't get it finished quickly enough.

What a difference SACD makes! Now, when I listen to this work, I have a much different reaction. Hearing Heifitz located on the stage just a few steps from where Reiner is leading his band, this now sounds to me more impassioned than ever before, as if the chemistry between the two highly driven performers and the virtuoso orchestra resulted in a fast reading that was driven by a burning passion and not impatience.

So what happened; does the SACD recording show a different reality or did I just get older and appreciate the greatness of these performers more in my maturity?

I think both things happened. I know I appreciate Heifitz a lot more in SACD than I ever did in stereo and the sound on this SACD -- especially when I listen with headphones -- brings dimension to the recording that never existed before. It also shows the level of detail Reiner required from his orchestra and its ability to meet his technical demands.

I enjoyed the Tchaikovksy concerto that is mated with the Brahms here but less so. The chemistry doesn't seem to be the same between the partners, who were both high profile literalits in mid 20th century. Their collective insistence on literalism probably took some of the Slavic character away from the Tchaikovsky concerto, making it another top European concerto from the late Romantic period instead of an individual opus.

I listened to Heifitz's SACD recording of the Sibelius concerto after hearing the Tchaikovksy. There, Heifitz delivered a more characterful and intense performance that projected the icy Scandanavian nature of the composer. This is the element I think the Tchaikovsky concerto lacks -- the overwhelming passion of the emotionally charged and conflicted Russian composer.

Still, this is a great CD replicated in up to the minute super audio sound that usesof all three forward speakers without surround sound. RCA tells us in its technical packaging that the third speaker is a come and go proposition in SACD reissues because that's the way they were recorded. I noticed the middle channel in use every time I got next to the speaker in this recording.

This should appeal to music historians, fans of the two concertos, musicologists and audiophiles that want to know what three-channel recordings sounded like in the early days of stereo. Even this slight misgiving I have about the Tchaikovsky, this CD powerfully appeals to me.
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Heifetz deserves this new technology 30 Jan 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The violini is the most difficult instrument to record, and when digital sound came in during the Eighties, music lovers were dismayed by the edgy, glassy harshness of violin recordings, both solo and orchestral. Compared to the warmer, more natural sound of the best LPs, the advent of CDs was a huge step backward. Upgrades into 20-bit and 24-bit technology improved matters somewhat, but only now, with SACD, are we back to violin recordings that don't make you wince.

This classic pairing of Brahms and Tchaikovsky concertos with Heifetz and Reiner was always in good sound, despite the early recording dates, 1955 and 1957 respectively (the Tchaikovsky being the far superior one sonically). I bought this hybrid SACD to play in normal two-channel CD format, and it is impeccable. There is still a hint of wiriness in Heifetz's tone in the Brahms, but the Tchaikovsky sounds completely natural. Heifetz is far from my favorite violinist, but he deserves the best sound possible, and for the time being at least, he has it.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Simply the best version of the Tchaikovsky! 13 Nov 2008
By P. H. - Published on Amazon.com
Tchaikovsky aspired to be the Russian Beethoven. More than any other pairing, Heifetz and Reiner understand this and perform the violin concerto accordingly. With admirable virtuoso playing by the Chicago Symphony and sound that is very accurate for Orchestra Hall at the time this recording was made, this is an astonishing document. As a bonus, you will enjoy Conti's reference to the concerto's first movement in his music for "The Right Stuff," Reiner/Chicago make this abundantly clear. No other recording of this concerto comes remotely close to the power of this one. And Heifetz, unlike the majority of other famous violinists, plays all the notes, in tune, in tempo, including the last two (no falsetto here)! A fitting testament to the Orchestra Hall performances I saw with Heifetz performing; my personal favorite and a real barn-burner.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Superb 16 Feb 2010
By F. Rupert - Published on Amazon.com
This couples two of the big four violin concertos (the others being Beethoven and Mendelssohn). For many years I've owned the various incarnations of the 1955 Heifetz Brahms, from LP to CD to this one. The LP was good, then the first 1980's CD incarnation was dreadful--so bad that I think the engineers made a fundamental equalization error. Later in the 80's it reappeared on CD with the good sound of the LP restored. This transfer is pretty wonderful. Heifetz's sound is a bit closely miked, and as a result could sound, as another reviewer called it, wiry. To me (I play the violin) the wiriness is just the brilliance and sizzle of horsehair on the string you hear when you're playing a violin.

This Brahms shows off why other violinists, even the greatest, remain in awe of Heifetz. Example 1: after the cadenza in the 1st movement, he plays the final iteration of the main theme, high up on the top string, with a vibrance and beauty of sound that no other violinist I have heard can duplicate. Most moving. Example 2: the entire second movement and for much the same reason. Superb placement and architecture of the musical line, delivered with aplomb, no technical insecurity whatever, and with glorious tone. Heifetz obviously thought deeply about this movement and delivers a matchless account of it. I recognize that some will find the whole concerto somewhat fast. I did too, but now everybody else sounds draggy.

I am less happy with the sound of the Tchaikovsky. Yes, this is the best incarnation available of Heifetz's 1957 recording, but to me it still sounds a bit dry and boxy. That said, there are still those spots where other players can't touch him. The man had an unrivaled ability to maintain vibrance and beauty of sound in very rapid passages, all the way up to the very highest notes. There are a number of places in the 1st movement that show this gift to great advantage.

So buy it. Worth owning!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A legendary performance now in enhanced sound 1 Feb 2009
By W. Chiles - Published on Amazon.com
Heifetz' high octane performance of the Brahms violin concerto has long been praised by critics and listeners alike for his technical command and unsurpassed warm & full-bodied tone and control of color. While he blitzes through the score, there are ample moments where he displays subtle nuance and sensitivity. The ending of the first movement is for me one of the most magical harmonic progressions Brahms ever created with this beautiful sustained descending violin notes shimmering above the orchestra.

The slow movement benefits from the Chicago Symphony's wonderful oboe soloist. You don't hear such a distinguished sound from today's homogenized orchestras. This recording remains a classic and is genuinely aided by the SACD technology. There was always a bit of clipping heard in loud passages on this 1955 recording but the SACD remastering adds some clarity and edge to those once blurred passages.

The Tchaikovsky is quite exciting but not in the same league as the Brahms in comparison with all its competition. If you prefer a more relaxed and romantic approach to the Brahms, then I'd recommend the Perlman-Guilini recording also made in Chicago. Oistrakh also recorded it with Klemperer on EMI as did Milstein with the Philharmonia, both at budget prices. I think anyone who admires this piece should hear more than one recording. It lends itself to many approaches.
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