Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Erich Wolfgang Korngold; Miklós Rózsa; Franz Waxman - Violin Concertos (Jascha Heifetz)


Composer: Erich Wolfgang Korngold; Miklós Rózsa; Franz Waxman
  1. Korngold - Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35: I. Moderato Nobile
  2. Korngold - Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35: II. Romance
  3. Korngold - Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35: III. Finale. Allegro assai vivace
  4. Rózsa - Violin Concerto, Op. 24: I. Allegro non troppo, ma passionato
  5. Rózsa - Violin Concerto, Op. 24: II. Lento cantabile
  6. Rózsa - Violin Concerto, Op. 24: III. Allegro vivace
  7. Rózsa - Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29a: II. Tema con Variazioni. Tema
  8. Rózsa - Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29a: II. Tema con Variazioni. Variation I
  9. Rózsa - Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29a: II. Tema con Variazioni. Variation II
  10. Rózsa - Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29a: II. Tema con Variazioni. Variation III
  11. Rózsa - Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29a: II. Tema con Variazioni. Variation IV
  12. Rózsa - Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29a: II. Tema con Variazioni. Variation V
  13. Rózsa - Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29a: II. Tema con Variazioni. Variation VI
  14. Rózsa - Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 29a: II. Tema con Variazioni. Variation VII
  15. Waxman - Carmen Fantasie (Based on Themes from an Opera by Georges Bizet)

Jascha Heifetz, violin
Gregor Piatigorsky, cello (7-14)
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Alfred Wallenstein (1-3)
Dallas Symphony Orchestra, cond. Walter Hendl (4-6)
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, cond. Donald Voorhees (15)

Dates: 1946 (15), 1953 (1-3), 1956 (4-6), 1963 (7-14)
Label: RCA



This is a record to have one even more open-mouthed than usual at the pure wizardry of Heifetz. All four works were written specially for him by Hollywood film composers, all of them emigres from Europe. Where Korngold, the boy-wonder composer who never fulfilled the dazzling promise of his youth, used material for this Violin Concerto which he had already written for films—Another Dawn, Juarez, Anthony Adverse and The Prince and the Pauper—it was the other way about with Rozsa and Waxman. Rozsa, in response to Heifetz's commission, wrote his concerto at high speed, then worked with Heifetz on the details for 18 months, then finally used it in a subsequent film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Waxman, after writing his Carmen Fantasy, also used it in the film, Humoresque. The Rozsa Tema con variazioni is the middle-movement of a Sinfonia concertante for violin, cello and orchestra, that he wrote for Piatigorsky—the other soloist here—as well as Heifetz.

None of this is great music, but in the hands of the magician who prompted it, it has many delights. If the Korngold brings the most striking ideas, the pieces Rozsa pieces with their gentle Hungarian flavour (much closer to Kodaly than to Bartok) are charming too, while the Waxman is a splendid firework display. That Waxman piece was recorded as early as 1946, long before the rest, with rather scrubby sound and an uneven surface even in the digital transfer. The Korngold followed in 1953, the Rozsa Concerto in 1956 and the Variations in 1963. Though the booklet keeps quiet about it, only the two Rozsa items appear to be in stereo. Few will worry about such points when the playing is so astonishing, and whatever the recording quality the solo instrument stands out vividly. The slight hum detectable in quiet passages is not so distracting as in some other Heifetz vintage transfers. There is a highly informative note by Richard Freed.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone


Erich Wolfgang Korngold (May 29, 1897 – November 29, 1957) was an Austrian-born composer and conductor. He was a noted pianist and composer of classical music, along with music for Hollywood films, and the first composer of international stature to write Hollywood scores. Along with such composers as Max Steiner and Alfred Newman, he is considered one of the founders of film music. Korngold's serious music, with his late romantic style, has recently undergone a re-evaluation and a gradual reawakening of interest.


Miklós Rózsa (18 April 1907 – 27 July 1995) was a Hungarian composer. Best known for his nearly one hundred film scores, he nevertheless maintained a steadfast allegiance to absolute concert music throughout what he called his "double life". His notable Hollywood career earned him considerable fame, including Academy Awards for Spellbound (1945), A Double Life (1947), and Ben-Hur (1959), while his concert works were championed by such major artists as Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, and János Starker.


Jascha Heifetz (February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1901 – December 10, 1987) was a violinist, widely considered to be one of the finest violinists of modern times. Born in Vilnius, Russian Empire (now Lithuania), he moved as a teenager to the United States, where he had a long and successful performing and recording career. His near-perfect technique is regarded by many critics as unequaled and caused some critics to accuse him of being overly mechanical, even cold.


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  2. Deutsche Welle: Dokumentation

    Der Geiger Jascha Heifetz - Das Gesicht der Perfektion (english original God's Fiddler: Jascha Heifetz)

    Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987), geboren in Vilnius im russischen Kaiserreich und 1917 nach Amerika ausgewandert, war zweifellos einer der größten und einflussreichsten Geigenvirtuosen seit Niccolò Paganini und der erste moderne Geiger seiner Zeit. Er begann als musikalisches Wunderkind, galt schon als 20-Jähriger als der beste Geiger der Welt und setzte mit seinen zahlreichen Schallplattenaufnahmen Maßstäbe für ein ganzes Jahrhundert. Der Film porträtiert einen Künstler, der sein Instrument mit unübertroffener Präzision beherrschte, und einen Menschen, für den nur das Perfekte ausreichend war.

    Es ist nicht übertrieben, Jascha Heifetz als den größten Violinvirtuosen seit Paganini zu bezeichnen. Peter Rosen zeigt in seinem Film historische Aufnahmen von Heifetz, aus denen ersichtlich ist, dass er der erste moderne Geiger seiner Zeit war. Itzhak Perlman äußerte sich wie folgt: "Als ich ihn sprach, dachte ich, ich glaube es nicht, ich spreche mit Gott."

    Der Film porträtiert einen Künstler, für den nur die Perfektion ausreichend war. Ein musikalisches Wunderkind, das Maßstäbe für fast ein Jahrhundert setzen sollte.

    Über private Filmaufnahmen und Familienfotos aus den Jahren 1903 bis 1987 können wir einen angesehenen Konzertgeiger erleben, der auch in der populären Kultur bekannt war. Sein Name war ein Synonym für Größe für jedermann - von Jack Benny bis zu den Muppets und Woody Allen.

    Die großen Geiger seiner Generation und viele seiner ehemaligen Schüler, die noch am Leben sind, sprechen über den legendären aber mysteriösen Menschen Heifetz und die doppelte Natur des künstlerischen Genies: das Paradox, wie ein sterblicher Mensch mit unsterblichen Talenten leben kann, Talenten, die er nutzen muss, die aber einen hohen Preis fordern. Sind der Mensch und der Künstler ein und dieselbe Person? Welchen Preis müssen Künstler und Mensch zahlen? Wer ist der Mensch hinter der Musik?


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