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Pauline Lerner

Help me spend some money on CDs

January 13, 2006 at 9:09 AM

One of my Xmas gifts from the family of a student was a gift certificate for Barnes and Noble. Another gift was a check, and I intend to spend that at Barnes and Noble, too. I want to buy something really special, something that I probably would not spend my own money on. I want the musical equivalent of pigging out on chocolate. Of course, I want violin music, and I want performances by Heifetz. I went to the Barnes and Noble website to start searching. I’m spending my time on this because I want to enjoy the anticipation of the CDs I’ll get.

First, I read the bio of Heifetz on the B&N website. Heifetz started playing the violin at the age of three when his father, a professional violinist, bought him a violin. (According to B&N, it was a 1/4 size violin. Maybe violins were measured differently back then.) The boy prodigy entered a conservatory at the age of five, and made his debut at the age of six, playing the Mendelssohn Concerto. Heifetz Sr. resigned from his job, sold most of the family’s possessions, and moved with his son to St. Petersburg so that his son could study under Auer at the famed conservatory. The rest is history.

Fortunately for us, Heifetz was recorded at a young age, as shown in the photo on one of the currently available CDs. With his longish hair and clothing of that period, he looked almost like a girl would today.


B&N listed 51 CDs of Heifetz, and I’ve narrowed them down to seven that I might buy. Some of them are collections of beautiful encore pieces. Using my chocolate analogy, I call these “dessert buffets.” Here is my annotated list.

  1. The Virtuoso Heifetz. Dessert buffet.

  2. Hora Staccato. More dessert buffet, prepared in 2005.

  3. Selections from the Heifetz Collection. Here is a partial playlist

    • 12 Debussy preludes

    • Transcriptions of a Handel suite for keyboard, played by Heifitz and William Primrose

    • Bach Double

    • Beethoven Spring Sonata

    • Bach Partita #3

    • Mendelssohn Octet for Strings

    • Two songs from Porgy and Bess

    • One movement of the Tchaikovsky Concerto

    • Some Spanish songs by de Falla

    • A few more dessert pieces

  4. Jascha Heifitz, 1922-1934 (2 CDs) This includes:

    • Bach Partita #3

    • Transcriptions of piano music by Chopin and Debussy

    • Schubert Ave Maria

    • Carmen Fantasy

    • Hebrew melody

    • More dessert pieces, including some I’m not familiar with

  5. Jascha Heifetz, 1917-1922 (2 CDs). This is a lot of rich chocolate, but I wonder how good the recordings are. The originals are quite old, but they have been remastred for CD. This includes

    • Ruins of Athens

    • Some Paganini caprices

    • Chopin transcription

    • Zigeunerweisen

    • Part of Symphonie Espagnoli

    • Some Hungarian and Slavonic dances

    • Tchaik, Goldmark, Mozart

    • Hebrew Pieces

    • …more

  6. Heifetz: Never-Released and Rare Live Recordings, Vol. 1. The title is intriguing. It includes works by Wieniawski, Kreisler, Sarasate, and the Vitali Chaconne. The latter is called “spurious,” and I’d like to know why.
  7. Jascha Heifetz Live, Vol. 5. All these performances date back to the Bell Telephone Hour, which was initially a radio show and later (1959-1968) a TV show. I think it’s so interesting that Bell Telephone considered it profitable to broadcast classical music. Times have certainly changed. In this CD, Heifitz is introduced by Lionel Barrymore. I have seen some of these performances on video, but the sound of my TV is not great. I would really enjoy hearing these pieces on CD. Some highlights from the playlist are The Swan from Carnival of the Animals, one movement of Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, and other dessert pieces by Sarasate, Ravel, Prokofiev, Brahms, and more

I feel as though I’ve overdosed on chocolate already. It’s really good chocolate, from Ghirardelli (sp?) or Trader Joe’s. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate covered caramels, chocolate covered cherries, chocolate with nuts, chocolate brownies with chocolate icing, Black Forest cake, chocolate fudge, chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake with chocolate icing…

This is just too much for me to comprehend. I need input and advice from the community. If you want to see more details on these CDs, go to my wishlist on B&N website.

Chocolate-peanut butter ice cream, chocolate cookies with chocolate chips…

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