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Inspirational performances of both concertos in hugely improved sound,
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This review is from: Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto (Audio CD)
This disc combines recordings made in 1955 and 1959. These famous recordings are ones that I have had in my collection for years but in their previous formats. Having tested the 'Spain' disc and being much impressed I have moved on to the Heifetz recordings.
So far I have heard three such discs and in case the improvement is marked with greater internal definition within the orchestra and with better balance between the soloist and the orchestra. There is also a greater sonic depth from front to back and the whole tonal range is far fuller.
The performances themselves are, of course, so well known and famously so, that further comment on that score is hardly necessary. However I will comment that these are among the finest performances ever recorded of these works. Furthermore, any suggestion that Heifetz could be thought of as on the 'cool' side as has been remarked in the past, can now be refuted by these altogether warmer re-masterings which, I am sure, are not artificially enhanced but instead, tell the truth.
Whatever other performances collectors may have of these two concertos, I would still strongly suggest that these are really worth adding. The Beethoven is a fresh and pacey performance with a very lyrical approach in the first two movements and with an irresistible 'bounce' to the finale. The Mendelssohn redefines the meaning of a 'fleet' performance but this is never achieved with any sense of strain. Indeed the filigree work that Heifetz uses to accompany the orchestra is a thing to marvel at and with the correct balance instead of the 'jumbo' violins so often imposed onto other recordings
In conclusion, I would strongly suggest that these SACD versions are superior to the previous versions and are well worth the price of upgrading. This is not something I would normally do myself so that makes this a particularly strong comment. Newcomers to these discs will simply be amazed at what the engineers could manage so many years ago. Fewer microphones placed accurately coupled with longer recorded 'takes' have a musical result hard to match with modern sophistications.