BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61; Symphony No. 7 in A Major – Jascha Heifetz, violin/ NBC Symphony Orchestra/ New York Philharmonic Orchestra (7th Symphony)/ Arturo Toscanini – Opus Kura

by | Nov 3, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61; Symphony No. 7
in A Major – Jascha Heifetz, violin/ NBC Symphony Orchestra/ New York
Philharmonic Orchestra (7th Symphony)/ Arturo Toscanini

Opus Kura OPK 2050  73:47 (Distrib. Albany) ****:

When I spotted this reissue in the Albany catalogue, I could only
recall with what intensity my original 78 rpm version of the Beethoven
Seventh with Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic (1936) first
struck me. The Dionysian abandon of the first movement Vivace, followed
by the hallowed atmosphere of the Allegretto, remained with me, through
the various RCA incarnations of the performance in LP format. The Opus
Kura engineers have decided to remaster the inscription themselves,
avoiding the tendency to noise-reduce the musical vitality right out of
the original shellacs. So, whatever the degree of noise, we have 
Toscanini’s highly responsive, plastic lines, the remarkable ensemble
between woodwinds and strings, especially in the fugal section of the
Allegretto. Toscanini seems willing to permit a rhythmic lattitude in
the opening movement he denied in his later readings; even a portamento
or two intrude into the string line. The Presto enjoys a brilliant
articulation from the woodwinds and horns, the sforzati and staccati
pulverizing and dancing at once. Toscanini takes the secondary theme as
a brisk andantino, almost a light march. Firm crescendi lead to a warm
flute solo and then a pungent trumpet clarion. The final Allegro con
brio proves startling and muscular, even overwhelming, with Toscanini
keeping the tension in high relief, the tympani and bass cadences
forward.

The Toscanini long line predominates; from the very outset of the 1940
Concerto for Violin the phrase lengths accentuate the symmetry of
Beethoven’s architecture. A problem tape splice just after Heifetz’
entry makes its presence known by the silence without tape hiss.
Heifetz drives the tempo hard, albeit sweetly, and Toscanini is there
at every bar. For the G Major Larghetto, both Heifetz and Toscanini opt
for a more expansive mood, enjoying a delicacy of approach in stark
contrast to the feverish onslaughts in the A Major Symphony. As per
expectation, the Heifetz glibness of phrase sometimes detracts from the
emotional depth, but the silken playing sets a standard that can still
elicit awe. A Heifetz cadenza urges us into the Rondo, earthy and
playful, always in the bravura, slightly frenetic mode. Aside from the
constant crackle in the shellacs, the restoration is quite pungent. The
liner notes, however, are written in as un-idiomatic English as I have
seen, so Opus Kura might negotiate with a good annotator.

–Gary Lemco

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure
Logo Crystal Records Sidebar 300 ms
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01