Heifetz/Reiner: Brahms Violin Concerto Op. 77 (rec. 1955) - RCA LSC-1903
Jacket VG+ / LP NM- / US pressing (top dog label)
This outstanding LP from RCA (LSC-1903, US pressing, top dog label, stereo) features Jascha Heifetz's Olympian account of Brahms's Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 77, recorded with Fritz Reiner and the mighty Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the fabled acoustics of Orchestra Hall, Chicago in February 1955, still very much a landmark performance in this work's discography even over a half-century on, and here in its most desirable pressing.
Wrote the critic T.H. in his September 1985 review for The Gramophone:
“You may think that Reiner starts the opening tutti at an extraordinarily quick speed—until you remember that he is going to accompany no less a virtuoso than Heifetz, so he is merely taking it to match his soloist's performance. You will like this if you think, as I do, that this concerto is too often played in the kind of 'autumnal' manner often attributed to Brahms's compositions but which really should not apply to many of them. With Heifetz it is played with respect but without any kind of reverent hushed awe.
“I have often commented on the way soloists play that passage in the first movement at bar 349, just as if they were pedestrians picking their feet gingerly through puddles (and Belkin is another of them). Heifetz shows that such passages can go in tempo without the slightest hesitation and in one of them, at bar 223, he even positively presses on. Yet there is never any lack of feeling in the music. Reiner accompanies faithfully if without any particular distinction. The slow movement is lovely and the finale is a winner, the playing of an exuberant young man, yet, Heifetz was over 50 when he made this record. It is entirely confident throughout—and just listen to his real staccato, a rare thing from violinists.”