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Concerto For Two Violins (Heifetz) [Hybrid SACD, Original recording remastered, SACD]

Johann Sebastian Bach , Johannes Brahms , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Malcolm Sargent , Izler Solomon , et al. Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Frequently Bought Together

Concerto For Two Violins (Heifetz) + Brahms: Violin Concerto, op77 / Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, op35
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Product details

  • Orchestra: New Symphony Orchestra, RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Malcolm Sargent, Izler Solomon, Alfred Wallenstein
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (19 Feb 2007)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, Original recording remastered, SACD
  • Label: Sony Bmg Classics
  • ASIN: B000KP7LYS
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,195 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Vivace
2. Largo Ma Non Tanto
3. Allegro
4. Allegro Maestoso
5. Andante - Allegretto Tranquillo - Andante
6. Presto
7. Allegro
8. Andante - Allegretto Tranquillo - Andante
9. Vivace Non Troppo

Product Description

I will ship by EMS or SAL items in stock in Japan. It is approximately 7-14days on delivery date. You wholeheartedly support customers as satisfactory. Thank you for you seeing it.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous in re-mastered SA-CD. 6 May 2011
Verified Purchase
These are wonderful performances from all the cast, and SA-CD certainly is a massive improvement over even the best of CD pressings. For once, one is able to hear the tone of Heifetz's playing and perhaps for the first time one is able to marvel at why this legendary performer was, and is still, so highly rated. He is partnered by two equally renowned artists, William Primrose, viola, in the Mozart, and Piatigorsky in the Brahms, and such is the credit to these performers that they are not outshone by Heifetz.

This is a hybrid CD/SACD disc which means it will play on standard CD equipment but, unfortunately, only in the standard CD Red Book, 16 bit. 44.1khz quality and not the far superior 24 bit 96khz direct digital stream of SA-CD.

I note that in the Amazon listing, the performers are incorrectly stated but the accompanying photo clearly shows the information on the disc cover and is clearly identifiable as the SA-CD pressing. Regrettably, this is another listing error by Amazon, the fourth I have come across in the past month.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heifetz knew something about music that went lost after him: how to set it on fire 4 Aug 2012
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
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What a nice concept, this compilation: Heifetz playing three double concertos, and each time partnering with a different instrument: violin in Bach, viola in Mozart and cello in Brahms. All these recordings were independently made and published, originally: Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with Arthur Benjamin's Romantic Fantasy also for Violin, Viola and Orchestra (too bad that one is gone - it is now on Stravinsky: Suite Italienne / Benjamin: Romantic Fantasy & Others Recorded 1953-1967 (The Heifetz Collection, Vol. 31)) on RCA Victor LM-2149 (1956), Bach with Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata on Victor LSC-2577 (1961) and Brahms alone on Victor LDS-2513 (1960).

Like Toscanini, Heifetz and those who partnered with him knew something about music that went lost after them: how to set it on fire. Heifetz first recorded Brahms' Double Concerto in 1939, with Emmanuel Feuermann and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ormandy, and it was fiery (Heifetz Collection, Volume 5 (1939-1946)). In 1948 Toscanini also made a live recording with his NBC Symphony orchestra and its two first seats, Mischa Mischakoff and Frank Miller and it was, if possible, even fierier (Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 3/ Double Concerto (for Violin & Cello)). But it was a thing of the times, really: when Oistrakh and Knushevitzky recorded it with Karl Eliasberg in Leningrad in 1948 (David Oistrakh Plays Doubles), and when Milstein and Piatigorsky recorded it with Reiner in 1951 and in Philadelphia (Piatigorsky Legendary Performers - Strauss (Don Quixote) & Brahms (Double Concerto)), it was a touch less urgent and fiery than with Heifetz and Toscanini, but still, it was urgent and fiery.

But the "revisionist" view of Brahms' Double Concerto started soon after, and can be traced back - it'll come as no surprise - to the Austro-Germans: : Schuricht in 1947 with Kulenkampff and Mainardi (Kulenkampff plays Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major, Double Concerto in A minor & cello), Furtwängler in 1952 with Boskovsky and Brabec (Furtwangler Conducts Brahms: Violin Concerto (Menuhin) & Double Concerto (Boskovsky, Brabec), but the latter is a live recording that was published only I the late 1970s). The Viennese émigré Bruno Walter (both in his 1954 recording, with Stern and Rose, and in his 1959 stereo remake with Francescatti and Fournier, but I'll send the product links in the comments section) and Galliera in 1956 (with Oistrakh and, already, Fournier) also established a less urgent view of Brahms, which didn't lack bite and explosiveness in the first movement's orchestral outbursts but lingered more in the lyrical passages, played the middle movement "adagio" rather than "andante", and insisted more on the "non troppo" of the finale's character indication than on its "vivace" part.

And that it was a thing of the times rather than of individuals, or of the generation or geographical origin of the performers, is amply shown by the interpretive evolution of both Oistrakh and Ormandy. While their first recordings had been fiery, their next ones (Oistrakh also did the famous recording with Rostropovich and Szell in 1969, and Ormandy a stereo remake in 1964, again with Stern and Rose) were spacious.

Naturally, something was revealed and gained in the new approach - more of the majestic grandeur of Brahms (and the more of it as the approach became more extreme and tempi dragged out in the opening movement, as with Furtwängler, Karajan, Bernstein and Harnoncourt), and also the "tender lyricism" of its slow movement, as one Gramophone reviewer once put it (to complain that Heifetz missed it) - but it did away with that essential element of Heifetz' Brahms - and, in my opinion, of Brahms' music: the fire, the passionate intensity. Not that the "old" approach lacked lyricism, either: first because you can be sure that all these guys, Heifetz, Oistrakh, Milstein, Feuermann, Knushevitzky, Piatigorsky, knew how to make their instrument sing. And also because, by refusing to linger on the lyrical passages but keeping them at a flowing tempo, they made the lyricism (to my ears) all the more searing and intense, with an undercurrent of pasion rather than tenderness, if not placidity.

Still, by the mid-1950s, a new paradigm - interpretive and listening - had been established. Then, Heifetz' stereo remakes came to be seen as too fast and ungiving: it is very telling to compare the Gramophone review from March 1962 of this recording, and the one from August '42 of his earlier one from 1939 (the Gramophone Archive is available online). The approach in both versions is strikingly similar, with infinitely better sonics in 1960, yet while the earlier version was hailed, the new one shot down in flames.

There are pluses and minuses of 1960 over 1939. The 1960 sonics are stupendous, with vivid presence and no tape hiss that I can detect, even over headphones. Incidentally, the CD layer of this SACD showed no improvement I could detect over the first CD reissue of the recording, Double Concerto, which already sounded stupendous. Other than the sonics, Heifetz has lost none of his powers and crystalline tone - it is even more in evidence here, thanks to the recording - and Piatigorsky is equal to Feuermann in tone and virtuosity, but again, afforded incomparably greater presence by the recording.

But the major minus is that Wallenstein's first movement isn't as fiery as Ormandy's. It has to do less with tempo (the movement is less than 20 seconds longer) than with phrasing and articulation: Ormandy's Philadelphia strings play with considerably more bite in the orchestral outbursts than Wallenstein's RCA Victor Symphony's, who lets some of the thickness of the "new" approach creep in, and you can hear it as soon as the first introductory orchestral tutti. That said, all is relative: it is something that might strike you if the versions of Ormandy and Toscanini are very present in your aural memory; in its own right the version of Wallenstein is one of considerable power. But the 1960 Finale is as great interpretively as 1939 - and with incomparably better sonics.

Many listeners attuned to the "other approach" might feel ruffled (and the Gramophone reviewer back in March '62 certainly was!) by the performers' urgent tempo in the middle Andante: compare their 6:35 to Walter's 7:52 in 1959 with Francescatti and Fournier and Ormandy's 8:09 (in his 1964 remake with Stern and Rose). I find it entirely convincing in its own right (which doesn't mean that I don't find the slower approaches also convincing). One can of course discuss endlessly about what Brahms had in mind with his "andante" marking, but that's not the point. The Gramophone reviewer complained that "the lyrical tenderness of Francescatti and Fournier [was] entirely missing". Spot on! Rather than that "lyrical tenderness", it is an atmosphere of aching passion that Heifetz and partners convey, which IMO is entirely true to Brahms' message.

Make no mistake. Despite my small reservations about the first movement, this is Hall of Fame Performance, Great Recording of the Century, Desert Island version. It is the recording of Brahms' Double I'll keep if I have (Heaven forbids!) to keep only one. Thank the God of music that Heifetz was still around and with undiminished powers to re-record this in great stereo, and that, unlike Oistrakh, he never mellowed or relented (as far as I am aware there are no stereo recordings, even live, by Milstein). Thanks to that we now have this version which stands out among many as a truly UNIQUE testimony in great stereo of an art of interpreting Brahms which, sadly, now that the interpretive models have evolved in another direction, seems to have gone lost (and this is no figure of speech: of the more than 20 other versions I know from the stereo era, only one, Gielen's, recaptures something of the intensity, passion and drive of the early versions). Sadly, because it said things about the musical and emotional message of Brahms which I strongly believe are true and essential to this composer. The "other", grander, more majestic rendition of Brahms' Double Concerto, which has now become standard, for all the beauties it may have to offer, is simply, in my opinion, a "revisionist" view of the composer, one that does not let you hear anything close to what Brahms intended - and one also that, for me, generates much less excitement and emotion. The lesson Heifetz and partners offer on interpreting Brahms deserves not only to be remembered, but given a new lease on life.

The 1956 Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with William Primrose is also a great one, and Izler Solomon and whatever was the RCA Victor Orchestra must take part of the credit: apparently a chamber-sized ensemble, they play with great zest in the outer movements, an enthusiasm that matches the soloists', and a superb transparency of textures, with the all-important oboes and horns never covered and adding great timbral character. There is, as ever with Heifetz, an urgency in the playing, but one that I don't find so much rushed as enthusiastic and ebullient in those outer movements. The middle movement is for once taken as the "Andante" Mozart wrote, not as the romantic and solemn "Adagio", kin to the Masonic Adagio & Fugue, everybody seems to want to turn it into, but by way of paradox that very urgency lends it an undertone of inquietude which I find very romantic indeed (in the way Don Giovanni was the opera preferred by the Goethe, Berlioz and the romantic era). I find it outstanding. And here, thank again the God of music, the lesson is starting to be heard. I've just heard the recent version of Carmignola and Abbado: the tempi and approach are strikingly close to Heifetz' (Mozart: The 5 Violin Concertos). So maybe there is hope for Brahms also, when Carmignola and Abbado record it. The 1956 recording is stereo and vivid, only fault being a very soft electronic buzz that you can hear over headphones in the moments of silence.

The 1961 Bach Double with Erick Friedman suffers from acoustics that are far too resonant, making the orchestra sound like a large one recorded in a church and loosing the chamber-like intimacy of the Concerto. But Heifetz' brisk tempo in the first movement is great for avoiding the kind of pedestrian squareness associated to Bach interpretation in the 1960s (for instance with the Oistrakhs father and son, or Menuhin and Ferras), and truly points to the future of Historically-Informed Performances. Likewise the fastish Largo is vibrant without the kind of sentimentality that derives from slower tempi, and one thing that those who accuse Heifetz of always playing too fast don't seem to hear, is his unique art of singing, the sinuousness of his phrasing and throbbing vibrato (and that's certainly a feature that links him to the past). Heifetz (and I am assuming that he is playing the upper part) is also admirable for not trying to put the spotlights constantly on himself, but letting his young colleague take or share prominence when the music demands it. Sargent's conducting is not particularly imaginative or illuminating.

Did I say that this was Hall of Fame status, Great Recordings of the Century, Desert Island Disc? Sure I did! But I'll never repeat it enough.


P.S. As already mentioned, the CD layer of this SACD shows no significant sonic improvement over the previous reissues. On the other hand, the first copy I bought of the SACD would not read on my computer, which means that I couldn't rip it onto it or onto my ipod either, and only with some difficulty was my computer able to read the second copy I purchased. So if your usage is to read CDs on your computer or rip them onto portable devices, I'd suggest you favor any of the previous reissues.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Brahms - So-so Bach and Mozart 4 April 2009
By Virginia Opera Fan - Published on Amazon.com
The Brahms "Double" is the best thing on this collection of Heifetz items. The chamber music partnership of Heifetz and Piatigorsky is evident in the soloists interplay and Wallenstein and the pick orchestra provide good accompaniment. The three track 1960 sound has held up well in the SACD remastering. Audiophiles should investigate the excellent Pentatone issue (Fischer/Muller-Schott/Kreizberg) coupled with Fischer's excellent reading of the Brahms Violin Concerto in state of the art sound.

The Mozart Sinfonia concertante receives a decent performance even though a little hard driven for my taste. The 1956 three track recording is nothing special - claustrophobic and with more grain and hiss than we've come to expect from this series of re-issues.

The Bach is an improvement on Heifetz' harsh and brutal monophonic version (accompanying himself through the miracle of tape recording). It still sounds rushed and perfunctory - clocking in at 14:35 compared to the recent lickety split Hahn/Batjer/Kahane version at 14:25. Heifetz also indulges in swoopy portamento in the Largo (a anachronism his partner Friedman largely avoids). Sargent is OK as an accompanist, unstylish retards aside. The two channel stereo is decent 1961 vintage.

On balance, this one is for Heifetz fans and the curious. The modest price shouldn't be a deterrant. If you own the earlier Living Stereo issue, don't feel compelled to replace it with the SACD. The improvement is marginal at best.
4.0 out of 5 stars One might question the style, but there is a lot of fine music here 30 April 2013
By Jurgen Lawrenz - Published on Amazon.com
These are Heifetz recordings, first issued in different couplings, now brought together under one roof as an offer of some of his double concertos. In the Bach he is partnered by his pupil Erik Friedman, and the two sound almost indistinguishable (for Friedman this was a problem that led eventually to him giving up a solo career: he could never free himself from the Heifetz style and find his own!). The Mozart concerto, of Sinfonia Concertante as it is known, brings William Primrose into the picture. Finally the Brahms concerto is a partnership with Gregor Piatigorsky.
Bach lovers will question the style of playing here. It is a vivacious account in the manner of the older generation. It would not disturb me too much - in fact I believe that the finest performance ever recorded is of the roughly the same vintage, namely Oistrakh father and son. What I really miss here is the refusal to plumb any depths, it's all on the surface as there were no remarkable depths in the music at all.
The same style suffices for the Mozart. It is played so fast that Mozart would scarcely recognise it as his music. It is treated like a virtuoso work; and this time the bravura occupies centre stage, there is hardly a moment's reflection; and the beutiful centre movement comes off somewhat superficially pleasant, with little of its ingrained melancholy in evidence.
The best work here is the Brahms. Maybe performing with an equal in stature changes manner and approach? Or else it's just that Heifetz is much more at home in this repertoire. Although still on the fast side, this is a dramatic account, and in this case I would imagine that Brahms would even applaud!
Irrespective of these reservations, the recording deserves to be called a "classic".
The Bach sounds best in terms of sound. But there is no orchestra here, only a string band. In the Mozart and Brahms, the orchestra sounds dull, and the soundscape is rather flat and boxy.
But I still think that this is an album every music lover should have. We don't just buy 5-star recordings - we buy music well-performed. On that score there is no problem with these artists.
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