Heifetz, the chamber musician
I would like learn more about Jascha Heifetz, the chamber musician. Thr first recording of his that I listened to was the Schubert Quintet that he recorded with Israel Baker on RCA. I found it to be scintillating: the edge and drive, or forward motion, in the strings is remarkable (quite the contrast with the Alban Berg quartet’s recording, which is rounded in comparison). Haven’t heard anything like it since. Any other recordings I should check out? Anyone get the chance to hear Heifetz live in a chamber music setting?
I’m glad you started this topic. Heifetz’s chamber music recordings I feel have been overlooked. Love that Schubert you mentioned!
With Piatigorsky and Pennario, there is a fantastic Dvorak e-minor trio (Op 65). Beautiful ensemble playing, but breathtaking violin work.
The Alban Berg Quartet may have a rounded sound because both of the violinists have beards, which tends to soften the tone of one's violin.
My favorite is the Mozart Quintet in G minor.
What a wonderful coincidence.I was just given this vinyl of Heifetz playing the Mozart Quintet in G Minor and the Mendelssohn Octet.Its on the Living Stereo label LSC 2738.Wonderful recording.The timbre of Heifetz's Del Gesu is especially poignant with my Lyra Kleos cartridge( that's for you Paul!).
I love all of Heifetz's chamber recordings...for newbies check out his Brahms Piano Quartet, Op.60, the Dohnanyi Serenade, Mendelssohn trios...it's all so good!
I bought the Mendelssohn/Mozart LP in a sale in about 1970 and never much liked the performances, particularly the Mozart (the one that every second violinist will recognise as "sniff-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug...) which I felt to be overdriven and lacking in charm. I'm now hearing it on youtube and am more favourably impressed. The sound is way better than I was able to get from my original vinyl pressing (although still rather 2-dimensional), but in the menuetto and finale don't they sound a bit like they're late for an appointment? The crux of the Mendelssohn occurs after the double bar of the first movement where I feel the inner parts fail to generate enough rhythmic tension before the big release.
Not chamber music, but I did hear Mr. Heifetz once, in a recital in Orchestra Hall in Chicago (had to be 1950's). Unfortunately, I do not recall what he played except for one piece, portions of which I still recall, like a video recording in my memory.
If you wish to listen to Heifetz playing chamber music, I suggest you purchase the Heifetz Piatigorsky Concerts album collection. There are 21 CDs of Heifetz and Piatigorsky playing chamber music with some of the greatest musicians of their day, including Primrose, Pennario and Rubinstein. Some of the recordings are superb, while others are merely marvellous! These recordings show that Heifetz was not only one of the greatest violin soloists in history but also an excellent chamber musician.
To be Franck... his lack of repose (admirable drive?) in certain works (even when bathed in sweetness) keeps me away from particular chamber recordings, like the Souvenir de Florence. Of course this is totally subjective. What is perhaps not so subjective is the close microphone in other recordings that emphasize his part very much at the expense of the work as whole, as in his recording of the Schubert Piano Trio Op. 100, where Piatogorsky in the ravishing cello part of the second movement may as well be playing from the kitchen, and where even the pianist Lateiner loses detail. Of course, in the face of such monumental playing who could complain? (What! You're pointing at ME? Non non non...) Just sayin'
Actually I found Heifetz'z Franck too staid. And I'm an even bigger fan of Rubinstein than I am of Heifetz. But at the time I heard it, I was just too enamored of ASM's recording and I focused on studying her interpretations very closely because I was performing the third movement with a pianist friend. I'll listen again because the combined elegance of Rubinstein and Heifetz is pretty unbeatable.
You are in for a treat: His trio recordings are sublime!
I must confess that I listen to these recordings to enjoy the purity of the playing, and some delicious phrasing, but not for the works themselves. E.g. for the Schubert Quintet I listen to the Amadeus (DGG), or to Stern and Casals: the musics breathes, and unfolds with untold warmth.
I sure would like to hear the Dohnanyi piano quintet with Rubinstein at the keys.
Paul Deck - interesting to hear that about beards affecting tone! Does it matter what kind of rosin you apply to the beards?
I believe I shared the following opinion on this website decades ago, but I still stand by it:
Stupid film, brilliant playing:
I completely agree with Peter and Steve's recommendations of the Mendelssohn/Mozart record. Best Mendelssohn Octet recording I've heard - all the others seem too slow and boring (especially in the last movement) in comparison to this lively rendition in my opinion. I love the Mozart G minor Quintet also on this album. Everyone played wonderfully and Heifetz stuck in some nice juicy slides as well!
The Mendelssohn Octet and Mozart G minor Quintet are contained In album #10 of the 21 CDs in the Heifetz Piatigorsky Concerts album collection which I previously mentioned. Primrose is on viola and Piatigorsky is on cello in both recordings. Marvellous!
Yes and the Mendelssohn Octet/Mozart G minor Quintet album is also #62 in the 104 disc complete RCA Victor, Jascha Heifetz Album Collection, released by Sony.
I go back and forth on their Mendelssohn Octet-- the first time(s) I heard it, it seemed a little dry and not quite theatrical enough. Some of that was probably the pressing, though, and the sound system. When you get drawn properly into that acoustical space, it is quite stunning.
I have a dear colleague who frequently played chamber music with JH at his house in Beverly Hills in the late 60's/early 70's, and said that JH was unusually sensitive in this genre...especially when students filled out the ranks of the ensemble. I've got to clarify with my colleague, though - I think JH refused to play Beethoven quartets, for some reason.
Im listening to that JH Mendelssohn Octet again.The close micing is excellent, perhaps leaning towards an anachoic acoustic but quite acceptable. I just love the energy of the whole ensemble.Great drive.The last movement is the definition of driving tempo.
Jascha Heifetz was the hero of my youth!!
Heifetz student Ayke Agus lectures and conducts masterclasses on the theme "Heifetz and the Art of Collaboration".
Ms. Agus also authored the personal biographical account of her 15 years with Heifetz, his last years: "HEIFETZ As I Knew Him."
The Heifetz album called"Heifetz on Television" was my first vinyl Lp.It has the Bruch Scottish Fantasy on side B and the Bach Chaconne along with the Mozart Rondo on the A side.I played it obsessively when I was a kid.It came with a small 45 record with an interview with Heifetz.I love what he said about scales;
Good question. The tempi for some of the Heifetz/Piatigorsky performances are unconventionally fast. Whether you like them or not is entirely taste. Another issue for me is that the acoustic for many of them is dry and the miking close. The sound can be gritty and not terribly flattering.
Ill look for that Frederick.Thanks.
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