Favorite Heifetz Recording

Edited: July 23, 2019, 11:06 PM · I love listening to Heifetz play -- just wanted to hear what you guys like to listen to.
What's your favorite recording by Heifetz?
Mine are the Bruch concerto and his "Itsy bitsys".

Replies (53)

July 23, 2019, 11:07 PM · His Bruch Scottish Fantasie, and his Korngold/Rosza/Waxman disc (with the two concertos plus Carmen Fantasy.)
July 23, 2019, 11:21 PM · It's hard to pick just one, but I've probably listened to his Beethoven concerto with Boston and Munch more than any other recording. There's also the Rozsa Sinfonia with Piatigorsky, and the Rozsa concerto, and this entire disc and...


July 24, 2019, 12:03 AM · Paganini Caprices be the best ????
July 24, 2019, 12:03 AM · Paganini Caprices be the best ????
July 24, 2019, 12:25 AM · I don't know about "favorite" recording, rankings are for horses, not music, IMO, but his Glazunov recording is one of my favorite interpretations of the piece.

BTW you want the one from the 60s if you're looking up recordings. He made one in the 1930s that has really piss poor audio quality, and he doesn't have the best ensemble with the orchestra in the 1st and 4th "movement".

July 24, 2019, 12:28 AM · Bruch, Scottish Fantasy (1961)
Beethoven, Violin Concerto (1929; Heifetz/Toscanini)
Vitali, Chaconne, with Richard Ellsasser, organ.
Rozsa, Violin concerto, 1956
Brahms, Double Concerto (Gregor Piatigorski, cello)
and many more
July 24, 2019, 12:52 AM · I don't have a large collection, but I like his recording of the Korngold concerto, and, the Castelnuovo-Tedesco concerto #2, which I like better than the Walton on the other side, (the piece, not his playing).
July 24, 2019, 1:50 AM · You don't think of Heifetz in terms of "authentic" period performance but his 1962 Bach Double with Friedman strikes me as highly musical and stylistically very apt with swift tempi and light articulation, far preferable to the romantic mis-interpretations of the likes of Menuhin and Oistrakh at similar date. The orchestra is on the heavy side in the first movement but the rest is glorious all round. It isn't hugely different from the 1940's recording (first I ever heard) in which Heifetz plays both solo parts
July 24, 2019, 7:03 AM · Thanks everybody for your replies -- that was my first discussion post!
And yes, Steve, I completely agree with you on the Bach double concerto. Heifetz said playing with Friedman was like playing with himself. Maybe that was why he chose Friedman after his first recording of both first and second violins himself.
And finally someone likes his Vitali Chaconne! I'm playing that piece right now, actually, and I listen to it so often that its basically ingrained in my mind. Not that I mind.
July 24, 2019, 7:21 AM · I really like his Brahms and Bruch, also Sarasate and Saint-Saens. Beethoven romances absolutely terrific. Sinding suite in A minor too, best spiccato ever. Wieniawski Polonaise in D major - that YouTube video is a masterclass.

The Vitali Chaconne is amazing and that high C note in the coda after the run is one of the best sounds I have ever heard played...

July 24, 2019, 10:05 AM · I'll tell you what ISN'T: His Beethoven Opus 12 No 2 with Emmanuel Bay. They cut final notes in the last movement far too short.
July 24, 2019, 10:43 AM · His Vitali Chaconne, I just love that piece.
July 26, 2019, 6:49 AM · He did a wonderful Dvorak trio with Pennario and Piatigorsky. For CBS/Columbia, so was left out of many of the usual collections.
Edited: July 27, 2019, 11:35 AM · Re ~ Favoured Heifetz Recordings of a JH Violin Master Class Pupil ...

I just lost my original Post, to which I shall now just generically list here with a possible return to elaborate a bit, being one of seven original artist-pupil's of Jascha Heifetz, in his First Original International Violin Master Class at USC's Institute for Special Music Studies, which were subsequently set
down on Film, and premiered on WNET National Television (PBS) in New York, across North America, now available on YouTube as Testament to a Great Teacher & Greatest Violinist of All Time, Jascha Heifetz ~

Favored recordings include: Sinding Suite; Saint Saens "Havanaise" ~ Glorious Heartfelt emotion pouring forth from Heifetz's Heart, Soul & Hands; Second Movement/Prokofiev's 2nd Violin Concerto; Saint Saens' Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso; Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto #5; Wolfgang Korngold's Violin Concerto; & Concert Pieces: Ravel's Tzigane; the Vitale Chaconne; Franz Waxman's Carmen Fantasy; Bruch's Scottish Fantasy; Chausson Poeme: Short Pieces ~ "It Ain't Necessarily So" arranged/transcribed by Heifetz for Violin w/Piano of George Gershwin; 'Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair' arranged and transcribed by Heifetz: Kreisler Praeludium & Allegro; "Daisies" arranged/transcribed by Heifetz; Zapateado; Faust's Fantasy; Kreisler pieces in droves! And the Greatest Recording of Sibelius' Violin Concerto w/Chicago Symphony Orchestra/ Walter Hendl, Conductor, in a Non-Stop Live 'Last Take' performance in Chicago's grand Medinah Temple, in 1960. The JH 'Mt. Everest' Violin Conquest of the Sibelius in Classical Recording Industry Annals is still considered the Greatest Single recording by a Solo Instrumentalist of All Time ~ A Must Die to Hear RCA RedSeal recording, made in Chicago in 1960 ~ (Time allowing I might try divulging a bit of historical fact regarding the Last Take which astonished my CSO colleagues on The Jascha Heifetz Sibelius Recording, playing far beyond any imagined Heifetz Artistry with Dizzying Wizardry never before heard!!!) I do know from All Five Daughter's of Jean Sibelius, that their Father was bedazzled upon hearing Jascha Heifetz's 1st Sibelius Violin Concerto w/ Beecham recording made in London much earlier ... It is tragic The Finnish Master Composer passed in 1957, never living to hear his bedeviled loved Violin Concerto fully revealed & conquered in such Outer Galaxy Fashion by Heifetz, the CSO & last minute Sub (for ill Reiner) Associate CSO Conductor, Walter Hendl, duly recorded & released shortly after in 1960, to near unbelievable Astounded World Acclaim . . . (More if Time ~)

One performance never recorded & impromptu, one sunny day in 'Class' as Mr. 'H' was prone to term our 6 hr a day classes, was our astonished up close & personal witness in hearing Heifetz in a 'short demonstration' of 3 string chording's in a portion of Bach's 3rd Unaccompanied C Major Sonata
Fugue of 6 pages, to continue on by Mentor, Mr. Heifetz to Artist, HEIFETZ, performing the Monumental Fugue in its entirety & as an 'Offering Up' in a Spiritual Homage to God, Bach's Father, in such a way that upon the last Lifting Up Finale, we Seven Rose from our Chairs in sync & at first in utter stunned Silence, then bursting/ near weeping into Applause ... None of we Seven Artist-Pupil's of The Master shall ever forget this surreal yet Real Life Reality of hearing Heifetz 4 feet away yet in Service to his God ~ This
'Event' (totally impromptu) was Not Recorded, yet is embedded in purpled hearts, Soul's & Collective Memories of we Seven ~ Erick Freidman, Adam Han Gorski, Robert Witte, Claire Hodgkins, Carol Sindell, Varoujan Kodjian & yours truly ...

Thank You to Jamie Haenisch for her First Discussion Post!!! You, Jamie, have knocked it out of The Park and into Outer Galaxy Proportions! Bravo to you ~

Warmed musical greetings to All with discernment to realise The Genius of Jascha Heifetz!!!!!

Elisabeth Matesky / Chicago & parts further

July 27, 2019 2:26 AM CDT

July 27, 2019, 5:21 PM · The 1940's radio broadcast recording of the Beethoven Concerto with Rodzinsy and New York Phil is unbelievable. There is one wolf note/bow glitch which is like the needed imperfection in an otherwise perfect piece of pottery. For studio recordings, the Conus violin concerto and finally all of the final recital especially the Ravel Tzigane followed by Casteluevo-Tedescos 'Sea Murmers'
July 27, 2019, 10:28 PM · I must admit, Heifetz is not someone who's recordings do anything for me. His playing is too cold. However, I semi enjoy his sort of playful stuff (hora stacatto comes to mind)
July 28, 2019, 3:53 PM · The ones that come immediately to mind are: Beethoven Violin Concerto, Conus Violin Concerto, Tchaikovsky-Auer Valse from Serenade for Strings, Korngold’s Garden Scene, Vitali Chaconne, Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie, and Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. Many more, but won’t mention them now. I wish he would have recorded his lovely transcription of Rachmaninoff’s “It’s Peaceful Here.”
July 28, 2019, 4:15 PM · Here is a wonderful little gem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItufMu9PLDw

And he brought his game for this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR6CGXneIuI

July 28, 2019, 4:18 PM · And this is a wonderful document-- as are the other three movements:


Edited: July 28, 2019, 4:24 PM · What some call "cold" playing, is actually the searing, blue flame of perfection. At least for mortals. You may have different opinions on his highly personal interpretations. Just my opinion of course.
July 28, 2019, 5:18 PM · In no particular order; Sibelius, Sinding Suite, Conus, Korngold, Bruch Scottish Fantasy, Rosza, Vitali Chaconne - and any number of his “itzy bitsys” including “Hexapoda” by Bennett, his own Gershwin arrangements and Tchaikovsky-Auer “Lensky’s Aria”. Oh and Paganini no. 24. Just for variation 6 alone! I recently performed 24, playing variation 6 much slower - and still much less accurately and renamed it variation number 666!
Edited: July 29, 2019, 12:12 AM · I’ve been listening to his Walton Concerto recording a lot lately in the car with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by the composer. I always revisit Heifetz’s Bach Double Concerto recording with my professor, Erick Friedman, a few times each year. Their tones, nuances, and style in that recording complimented each other so well. Then there are all those short works he recorded in 1917 which are absolutely stunning , especially his rendition of Paganini’s Moto Perpetuo which according to one of my friends was recorded at near 181 to the 1/4 note! I remember the first ever Heifetz recording I heard was his recording of Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fritz Reiner conducting. It’s still one of my all time favorites!
Edited: July 29, 2019, 7:03 AM · I like Heifetz's solo Bach. When I was learning the E Major Gavotte, I studied the recordings of about 15 violinists, and Heifetz's recording just spoke to me. I like the security of his articulation and the unaffected staidness of his overall interpretation -- a totally different approach compared to his Bruch, for example. There's a grandeur to his playing of Bach that is hard to explain.
July 29, 2019, 9:48 AM · Love them all, but Heifetz chamber music recordings sometimes get overlooked, i.e. his Brahms op. 60, pure bliss.
Edited: July 29, 2019, 12:34 PM · How can one add to all of the above responses? Heifetz was in a class by himself, and deservedly so.

I am reminded of a quote of his I read years ago: "You think you've got problems? I've got to be Heifetz every day."

He was, in my younger days, generally considered the personification of perfection in almost any human activity. When Heifetz first came on the scene, technical and musical performance standards went up in almost every kind of music.

And, in my humble opinion, 50 years from now, a history of violin playing will consider the two supreme violinists of all time who had the most impact not only on violin performance but on the role of virtuosity to be Paganini and Heifetz.

Quite a legacy.

July 29, 2019, 3:07 PM · Almost forgot about chamber music! I especially love the Franck quintet with Mr H!

Elizabeth - please do give us more details about the Sibelius recording session! Thanks

July 29, 2019, 4:22 PM · Bruch, definitely and a few other romantic composers... But not baroque, not Mozart. If one listens very carefully, his playing is not perfect, but his unique approach to "violinizing" is what is very seductive. Just like in a Bach's fugue, our brain is tricked to hear perfection, where there is just a darn good ilusion! One can only admire his strong personality and his ability to present himself on stage!
Edited: July 29, 2019, 11:20 PM · TO ALL HERE RE ~ The Heifetz Last Recording of The Sibelius w/ our Chicago Symphony Orchestra/ (& last minute Sub Conductor for very ailing Fritz Reiner) Associate CSO Conductor, Walter Hendl ~

This really goes in my Book, Friends/Colleagues, but as Raphael Klayman, my New Jersey 'buddie', has asked, I'll write a bit about the truly astounding recording sessions that occurred here in Chicago's Medinah Temple, in the Spring of, 1960..

My great, now late Violinist colleague/friend, Max W., who was in the First Violins of the CSO, (& later Concertmaster of the Phoenix Symphony under Alcantara), told me The Saga of several recording sessions with Jascha Heifetz, in quite a bit of detail ~

Max stated there were some glitches during the several days of recording ~ Oh No! My guests have arrived for Dinner so I will come back very soon to continue on a bit! Hold On!!

Elisabeth Matesky *

*https://youtu.be/M54U-P-Vs9g (My JH Violin Master Class Film ~ JH-7,
Khachaturian, Elisabeth Matesky). **Library of Master Performers**


July 29, 2019, 8:34 PM · Elisabeth: Friendly suggestion to prepare your post in MS Word and then transfer the text here. I have seen you more than once anguished by the loss of your earnest and thoughtful writings as they disappeared "into the ether" of the unreliable forum text box.
July 29, 2019, 9:54 PM · Just about anything Romantic: various Wieniawski's, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Bruch, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and more. But also Bach (unaccompanied and also the concerti - if you haven't listened to his Bach A minor concerto it's very lovely). Some others - Gluck Melodie, Mozart quintet in G minor.

To me Heifetz is the ne plus ultra, but there some things where I prefer a more relaxed interpretation. For example I prefer Kreisler for Beethoven or the Mozart Haffner Rondo (compare these two artists on this piece - Heifetz is pure technique and to me it's overblown on this one, compared to Kreisler's pure charm, with a little technique of his own).

It seems Heifetz wasn't particularly drawn to Paganini, but he did record some caprices. His #24 is great. But when there was a lot of discussion on this forum about certain Paganini caprices I was surprised to hear that I preferred Ruggiero Ricci's take over Heifetz's on the Devil's laughter caprice.

Edited: July 29, 2019, 11:09 PM · @Jeff Terflinger ~ Love your understanding of the "Cold" Heifetz!!! My colleague, Miriam Fried, once exclaimed in conversation about Heifetz, "Heifetz is as 'cold' as a burning fireplace"!! How True & to further confirm Mr. Heifetz's warmth, I strongly suggest some 'cooler to Heifetz' blok's
listen to Heifetz's "Havanaise" of Camille Saint Saens ~ It is gloriously human & deeply tender from the impassioned heart of Jascha Heifetz, the Premier performing classical artist of several Centuries ~

Your comment moved my heart, Jeff ...

Elisabeth Matesky *

*I have some reluctance about sharing every detail of the JH/CSO/Hendl
Sibelius Recording ~ (It's really for my Book ... )

July 29, 2019, 11:27 PM · I like his early acoustic recordings (I don't think Sarasate Carmen Fantasy has been mentioned), and I also particularly like his earlier recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto.
Edited: July 30, 2019, 1:26 PM · @Paul Deck ~

Thank you, Paul, for such thoughtfulness in posting your wise suggestion ~ As most of the rest of this Week is solidly booked, I shall have to defer in writing anything regarding the Heifetz/CSO/Hendl Sibelius Violin Concerto recording for, to be sure, I must Not lose such cherished "Heifetz Saga's'!!

With very warm greetings with gratitude to you, Paul ~

Elisabeth (Matesky)

Edited: August 6, 2019, 10:45 PM · Re ~ Heifetz Chamber Music Recordings

A Word: I hope All know that the great American New York born Violinist, Eudice Shapiro, was the superb Second Violinist to Heifetz in most of his & their (Piatigorsky, Primrose & Co.) chamber music offerings, which some of my London Music Critic 'friends' have titled historic & marvellous ...

Eudice Shapiro, famous in America, when she was made Concertmaster of Hollywood's MGM Studio Concert Orchestra & First Female Concertmaster of any well known American Orchestra, was a highly respected Violinist and Friend of Jascha Heifetz. Mr. 'H' almost always conferred with 'Eudice' on musical matters & whatever he wasn't sure of vis a vie USC's general policy of admissions, etc. ~

Eudice Shapiro was named a "Los Angeles Treasure" several years prior to her passing at age 92, & given an official Los Angeles Medal & Plaque for
her outstanding musicianship & pioneer in women's musical representation.
Her scads of students loved her & greatly respected her gorgeous Sound & styled jazzy personality which was 'East Coast w/ L.A.' amid rare classical elegance ~ (Her Alban Berg Violin Concerto performance w/USC Concert
Orchestra was utterly Superb and stylistically spine tingling!!)

Ms. Shapiro taught me how to dress for Solo Violinist engagements, once inviting me to her svelt Hollywood Hills home in Laurel Canyon, showing me all the clothes & gowns in her very full closets!!!!! She had charisma in spades & cared much for all with whom she came into direct contact ... I do truly miss her person, great style, zany sense of humour and beyond grand musicianship ~ It seems imperative to portray profiles of Heifetz's admired LA musician collaborator's on his remarkable Chamber Music Recordings!!

Missing all my Heroes & Heroines in Music ~

Elisabeth ('Liz' JH nickname for me) Matesky

Edited: July 30, 2019, 2:15 PM · @Sander Marcus ~

Dear Mr. Marcus,

Thank You from the depths of my soul & musical heart for your more than wise perspective and overview of Jascha Heifetz! There can be No doubt Heifetz will be called The Greatest Violinist of The Twentieth Century plus many others when Music Historians name Heifetz & Paganini as the Two Most Influential and Innovative Violinists of All Time ~

~ AMEN ~

Forever In your musical debt, Sir ~

Elisabeth Matesky

(One of Seven original Heifetz Pupil's)

July 30, 2019, 2:28 PM · Elizabeth:
In turn, from the depths of my heart, thank you.
As an amateur violinist but passionate music lover all my life, I in turn consider it a special honor to have heard Mr. Heifetz once, in a recital in Chicago's Orchestra Hall (I think in the late 50's). Although I remember only the Franck Sonata and (I believe) a Beethoven Sonata, Mr. Heifetz's sound and violin "voice" and presence are like a recording in my memory. I am sure that had Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, etc. been able to hear him perform their works, they would have unanimously said "So, it can be done that way, too. Bravo!"
All the best, always.
July 31, 2019, 10:24 PM · Elizabeth, I still can't get over the fact that you were Mr. Heifetz's pupil! I read your account or something and it said that you took part in the film series "the Heifetz Masterclass". I watched that probably over thirty times!
It's really nice to see this discussion full of people who love music, and all of you sharing great Heifetz recordings . . .


August 1, 2019, 4:55 AM · Yes, thanks! And nice playing in the class—- you have a very distinctive tone that I like.
August 5, 2019, 5:23 PM · Raphael, surely Variation 666 is for two horns?!?!
Right about the Franck - it remains one of my two favourite piano quintets to this day, thanks to Mr H, and playing in it myself hasn't spoiled it for me. (If you're interested - and even if you're not - the other one's the Schumann)
August 5, 2019, 5:24 PM · This one
August 6, 2019, 7:32 AM · Well, I think I made variation “666” sound like two horns - but that wasn’t my intention! ;-)

I actually performed the Schumann quintet once.

Elizabeth - I didn’t know you were writing a book. I can’t wait to read it!

Edited: August 6, 2019, 11:32 PM · @Raphael Klayman #666!!!!!

Dear Raphael,

Your descriptive account of your Paganini #24 when on the Sixth Variation absolutely cracked me up I couldn't stop belly laughing!!!! And, mind you, Not at you but With You!!!! A great Sage once wrote long ago ~ "The day you can laugh at yourself is the day you have grown up!' Bravo, Raphael!! You've Grown up and in so doing, many of us have done along with you!!!!

I Loved your self deprecating 'review' saying, 'I named it 666!!!!' This Joke joins the Classic Musician Jokes of All Time!!! Recall: Heifetz to the more than revering Heifetz whilst playing violin duets & a rhythmically off Albert Einstein: JH, "Albert, can't you Count!!!??" That is uproariously funny!! So
I nominate your Raphael Klayman Joke to yourself : 'I decided to call the #6 variation in Paganini 24, Number #666!!!" Bravissimo, Raphael Klayman!!!!

When my Book is finished in Draft Form, we shall begin pre- announcing it is on its way to a Birth!!!

My gratitude to everyone on this marvellous shared discussion of new 'star' Jamie Haenisch!!!! You've 'batted' a Thousand on this one, dear Jamie!!!

Warmest Heifetz Hugs to All from 'My Kinda' Town' ~

Elisabeth Matesky *

*Mr. Saldarriaga ~ I Love the photograph of you with my great Mentor and Friend, Nathan Milstein!!! When my Book is ready there will be a few never before seen or known of photographs of NM & its Author!!!!

August 6, 2019, 11:20 PM · Thanks Elizabeth!!
Edited: August 6, 2019, 11:45 PM · For All ~

"And before you retire to bed each night, please remember to play one false note before doing so, lest the you disturb The God's, Mr. Heifetz!"

Famed British Critic, George Bernard Shaw, in his Review of 16 year old Jascha Heifetz, after his NYC Carnegie Hall Violin Recital Debut, & first performance on American Soil, October 27, 1917 ~

Amen . . .

August 7, 2019, 8:47 AM · I do hope that the following quote is NOT by Jascha Heifetz:.....
"I have never made a mistake. I thought I did once, but I was wrong."
Sandy Marcus
August 7, 2019, 10:38 AM · Two related stories. JH was doing a record of some showpieces and the producer caught a small rhythmic error so asked for another take of that part. He played it the same way, once, twice, three times. Finally, JH asked what was wrong. The producer showed him the score vs what he had heard. At which point, JH said “Hmmm. I guess that’s how I play it.”

Flash forward to the televised master classes. Chausson Poeme is going well, but he corrects the student on misreading a slightly convoluted rhythmic figure. To make her feel better, he says, “I made that same mistake for 30 years. So now you don’t have to.”

August 7, 2019, 11:23 AM · Raphael, I was totally wrong - It's TEN horns!
Edited: August 7, 2019, 12:06 PM · Hi Elizabeth,

I remember your masterclass with JH. You played the Khachaturian concerto which unfortunately JH never recorded. Maybe because D. Oistrakh had such a good success with it. He asked you to put in a few glissandos because it was in the character of the piece.

August 7, 2019, 12:10 PM · Yes. This is how "glissandos" (more likely portamentos) came to be known as "Heifetz slides."
August 7, 2019, 10:17 PM · Ah yes -- Stephen, that was Claire Hodgkins, wasn't it?
She later became Heifetz's secretary.
And there was one with a wrong note read wrongly with the Chausson Poeme: "I made that same mistake many many years ago, and was horrified to discover . . ." or something along those lines :)

I wish I was born earlier or him later. To go to a concert of his and listen to him play live would be a dream.

August 8, 2019, 8:01 AM · Want to add Vieuxtemps no. 5 to my list .

For H. quotes would like to share these:

“There is no top; there are always further heights to reach. And anyone who thought he was the best would go down by the very belief in his own success.”

“I don’t play faster than everyone else but I do play clearly and distinctly.”

August 9, 2019, 10:34 PM · Oh, and speaking of Vieuxtemps, how could I forget to award the "Booby Prize" to Mr. H.'s terrible rendition of the 1st mvt. of No.4? (He played it very badly on purpose at a master class to entertain his students - who almost fell on the floor from laughter!)
August 10, 2019, 1:00 AM · Haha Raphael -- I actually heard his funny version first, so now whenever I listen to the piece I can only hear the "Heifetz" version in my head.

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