I prefer the revised version of the Walton concerto but here is Heiftetz revelling in this glitzy new work written for him by England's dashing new talent, William Walton. The Elgar concerto sounds newly revitalised on this transfer. Heifetz loved the work and wanted to record it for a long time prior to finally getting into the studio with the excellent Sargent. Its tough to know where to begin the praise, but suffice it to say, techincally and emotionally this is a performance to which no others can hold a candle. Heifetz is very faithful to Elgar's intentions, and refuses to dwell where others would grind to a halt. The concerto benefits from this no-nonsense approach and is all the more powerful an experience as a result. Heifetz should be forgiven for being a little too impatient in the cadenza but makes up for it by investing the closing bars with white hot virtuosity. This is the interpretation of the Elgar which really stacks up, played with great affection and wisdom by the master violinist of last century.
I strongly agree with 'Neil' about the Elgar. I've loved this composer for 35 years, but always found this work problematic. Performances by Menuhin, Kennedy, Zukermann/Slatkin (this last is disastrous) and others left me unconvinced. The famous Sammons is interpretatively excellent, but his champions ignore the serious intonation problems in the finale. Now at last I've heard Heifetz. I haven't always enjoyed his recordings, but his direct, yet sensitive - even loving - approach won me over. The slow movement had both me and my partner in tears, and I enjoyed the finale for the first time ever - what tone, what structural control, and what a technique!
This was one of the first Heifetz recordings I bought (RCA 1990's cd). It gradually grew on me and became a favourite, especially the Elgar. Then, at some moment, my copy became a present for the host of some party. I almost forgot about it for some years, then remembered it -primarily for the Elgar, realised how much I missed it and bought it again on the present Naxos edition, rediscovered it and even fell crazy in love with it. Since then: an ever flaming passion. Still growing!
In recent years I've taken the time to listen to other recordings of Elgar's masterpiece including those by Sammons, Menuhin, Perlman, Zukerman, Chung, Kennedy x2, Znaider, Shaham and Zehetmair. Many of them excellent, but I was particularly impressed by Sammons, Menuhin and Zehetmair. However, in my ears no one rivals Heifetz in his truly unique glowing tone, passion, panache, elegance and mesmerizing grip on the music over huge spans. For me, this is a great recording to be put alongside Flagstad as Isolde (If you can, please hear the 1937 Beecham recording!), Edwin Fischer in Das wohltemperierte Klavier, Horowitz in Tchaikovsky's B flat minor concerto, Richter in Schubert's last sonata, Schwarzkopf as Elvira, Corelli as Manrico, Pavarotti as Turiddu or Callas as Norma. Sadly it seems to be rather little known. Many people seem to "know" which is the best version (Menuhin...Kennedy...) -without having heard Heifetz. For Elgar's violin concerto -look no further!
As for the Walton concerto, Heifetz, its dedicatee, plays it just as superbly as one would expect.
The very decent mono recordings have been taken care of with the expertise we've been spoiled with by Mark Obert-Thorn.
Don't miss this one! You might even wanna sell your previous favourite recordings.
Rated after Amazon's first listing of this CD by me and A.N.Other as the best version of the Elgar available - thanks to the incomparable Jascha Heifetz. Go to the next page and you may still be able to read why!