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Beethoven, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos / Heifetz, Munch

Release Date: 05/19/1998 
Label:  Rca Victor Living Stereo Catalog #: 68980   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenFelix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Heifetz’s Beethoven Violin Concerto with Charles Munch is the greatest recording of its kind. It’s pointless in a work this lyrical and calm to accuse Heifetz of overpowering the music–he doesn’t–and while there will always be favorite versions that view the work from a more, well, “olympian” perspective (Oistrakh/Cluytens, or Menuhin/Furtwängler, for example), Heifetz and Munch play the music with a classical poise and chiseled perfection that is very special. In the first movement particularly, the swift basic tempo produces a tension, a quiet energy that seems very much to Beethoven’s point, while the Larghetto and Finale couldn’t be better paced. It goes without saying that Heifetz’s flawless intonation and ear-catching Read more articulation leave most other players in the shade, and if this comes across as “cold” to some listeners then that impression cannot be due to any lack of nuance or sensitivity.

As for the Mendelssohn, this is simply the greatest performance yet recorded. The work was made for Heifetz: Mendelssohn was himself a romantic of classical restraint and self-control–some might say inhibition–and in this work he created a virtuoso showpiece that requires total control over the instrument and, in the finale especially, hair-trigger precision. And my God, that’s just what Heifetz and Munch offer, in spades. The entire work flies by as if in a single breath, and the finale features some of the most astounding collaboration betweens soloist and orchestra that you will ever hear, anywhere. I truly pity violinists who have to play this work today after hearing this version. Maybe they shouldn’t.

Sonically the Mendelssohn, from 1959, is more naturally balanced and more vivid than the Beethoven of 1955. This coupling has also been released on SACD, reviewed by both Jed Distler and me previously, but to tell the truth this Living Stereo regular stereo edition sounds just fine, and it’s still available for around ten bucks. However you acquire these performances, no collection is complete without them.

-- ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Jascha Heifetz (Violin)
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/1955 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Jascha Heifetz (Violin)
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1959 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 

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