I'm relistening to Heifetz's Bach right now, and I have to say it's just nothing short of extraordinary. Among other things, his tone is just full of intensity. No, his tone IS intensity. I've never understood the complaints levied against it - that he chooses weird/fast tempi, that he is not faithful to the music, that he showcases his technique. Let me address those one at a time.
He does indeed choose tempi which would be weird coupled with any other violinist or interpretation, but they go perfectly in the context in which he plays them (he has a grasp on interpretation which matches his technique). The tempi aren't that weird anyways.
He is extremely faithful to the music. He puts some slides in here and there, yes, but his playing displays an uncanny understanding of Bach's structure and faithfulness to Bach's intent (e.g. all those off the string passages in the fast movements are there for reasons which are compelling on many different levels! He didn't play them like that by accident), even if he isn't playing on a stripped down Strad.
As to him showcasing his technique...that is just the silliest of all of the complaints. He does play extremely cleanly. I'm guessing that this, coupled with his intensity and slightly out of date musical ideas perhaps could give off the impression that he's showing off, but he always puts the music first. Take my word for it, if nothing else.
I'm currently on his A minor fugue, and I have forgotten to breathe in more than one place. This record is IMHO a monument of violin playing. Is it heresy if I say I like it better than Szeryng?
So, what do you have to say about his Bach? What do you hate about it, love about it?
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