Jascha Heifetz was born at the temporal conjunction of Romantic and modern music – his most influential teacher was an aging Leopold Auer, the man to whom Tchaikovsky dedicated one of the most significant pieces that exists in the violin repertoire, and my personal favorite – the Great Concerto. While Auer initially and quite famously declared the piece technically unplayable, he later had a change of heart, and it was he who introduced the concerto to a young Jascha Heifetz, when the greatest player who lived out his entire life in the 20th century was new to wowing audiences around the world.
My mom and dad gave me a special recording of the master playing the masterwork for my birthday – it’s personally special too, due to its being recorded at Chicago’s Symphony Center in the mid 1950s by my hometown symphony, itself one of the best in the world, of course.
Last night on first listening, I was struck with the clarity of tone and the immaculate and innovative variations of the stitching Heifetz accomplishes in joining together Tchaikovsky’s phrases. In his biography on Wikipedia, his penchant for particulars about strings is noted as quite significant, and in some moments of the recording the differences in the steely E and the gut-based D ring out clearly. The man was the best, and while I’ve listened to many of the greats play the concerto, I can say that none I’ve heard compare. Perlman, for one, agrees.
The Brahms Concerto is also on the CD, setting the stage for the Tchaikovsky – it too is lovely, and Heifetz fills its own famous phrases up completely.
I’ll probably give it another spin later today after a run and after doing what I can on my own violin – this gorgeous early summer Chicago weather will simply not allow me to remain indoors all day.
Thanks for reading.