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  • Bach Violin Sonatas and Partitas

    I had a request about the Heifetz recording of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas which I cannot locate. I finally dug out my copy and have a few comments and recommendations.

    First, this recording on RCA is from 1957 and is in mono. I happen own a German reissue from 1973, of course, still in mono. After playing the first sonata and 3rd partita, I was pleased with the sonics - at least in my German reissue. Surfaces were quiet, I think I may have bought this record new. As for playing and interpretation, Heifetz can play anything faster and more flawlessly than any violinist (at least since Paganini). He does so with the Bach. He plays 10 to 20% faster, particularly the fast movements, than anyone else that I know, and one would be hard pressed to hear any mistakes in his playing. I don't find his playing as subtle or imaginative as my favorite recording, but if you want to be amazed, this is the performance to get. (BTW, the speed and accuracy of playing is true of just about all of Heifetz's recordings. I do love his Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, for example).

    My preferred recording is Nathan Milstein on DGG. You can get a cheap version on vinyl in an Italian DGG box set that was issued by some classical music club (International Preview Society or something like that, IIRC. They did a lot of boxes of Italian pressed Philips and DGG back in the '70's). I did get a real German pressed DGG set a few years ago. Milstein, although very famous, IMHO, doesn't get quite the respect as (at least one of the top contenders for) the supreme violinist of his generation.

    A very fine HIP recording is by Sijiswald Kuijken on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.

    Larry
    Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,Lyra Skala+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Otari MX5050B2,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
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    Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.7KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

  • #2
    Originally posted by astrotoy View Post
    I had a request about the Heifetz recording of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas which I cannot locate. I finally dug out my copy and have a few comments and recommendations.

    First, this recording on RCA is from 1957 and is in mono. I happen own a German reissue from 1973, of course, still in mono. After playing the first sonata and 3rd partita, I was pleased with the sonics - at least in my German reissue. Surfaces were quiet, I think I may have bought this record new. As for playing and interpretation, Heifetz can play anything faster and more flawlessly than any violinist (at least since Paganini). He does so with the Bach. He plays 10 to 20% faster, particularly the fast movements, than anyone else that I know, and one would be hard pressed to hear any mistakes in his playing. I don't find his playing as subtle or imaginative as my favorite recording, but if you want to be amazed, this is the performance to get. (BTW, the speed and accuracy of playing is true of just about all of Heifetz's recordings. I do love his Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, for example).

    My preferred recording is Nathan Milstein on DGG. You can get a cheap version on vinyl in an Italian DGG box set that was issued by some classical music club (International Preview Society or something like that, IIRC. They did a lot of boxes of Italian pressed Philips and DGG back in the '70's). I did get a real German pressed DGG set a few years ago. Milstein, although very famous, IMHO, doesn't get quite the respect as (at least one of the top contenders for) the supreme violinist of his generation.

    A very fine HIP recording is by Sijiswald Kuijken on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.

    Larry
    Larry- thanks for doing this, and promptly! My copy just came today, a maroon dog. It looked extremely clean visually, and I ran it through the cleaning regime already, so I'm going to fire it up (hopefully) later tonight.
    Out of curiosity, I also searched for what I had- I found an old Harmonia Mundi box (actually had two of them for some reason, one was DMM, both French copies as I recall), so I cleaned and listened to the non-DMM copy of the side with the 2nd Partita. It was fine, nothing wrong with it, but it didn't move me as much as I thought it should. I'm looking forward to the Heifetz. As mentioned, it was cheap- like 13 dollars.

    PS: the Harmonia discs were of Sijiswald Kuijken. Is HIP the term of art as I know it?

    Comment


    • #3
      I have the German Deutsche Harmonia Mundi boxed set of this with Sigiswald Kuijken and love it. Surprised to see one on Discogs selling for $199! One of the more valuable records in my collection.
      Steve Lefkowicz
      Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
      -
      Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
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      Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
      Speaker cables: WyWyres Diamond, Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
      Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
      Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
      Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

      Comment


      • #4
        I do not have the Heifetz, guess I should. I will second the Milstein as one of the greats. Milstein had an effortless quality with Bach that translated into very moving interpretations. I will also add the Kremer, Kantorow and Menuhin from 1957 as faves. Have also the Mintz but have never warmed up to his interpretation, perhaps time for a revisit.

        Comment


        • #5
          Like the Millstein too it's excellent but Kremer's aggressive style brings something new and different from Millstein's almost sensual playing, I love Kremer's version must have listened to it a hundred times very exciting.

          david
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          • astrotoy
            astrotoy commented
            Editing a comment
            David, thanks for the tip. Never heard the Kremer version. I heard him once in a live summer outdoor concert. It was at the Concord Pavillion, on the eastern side of the Bay Area. The summer series where he and the European orchestra he was touring with featured a mix of pop/rock and light classical (Boston Pops style) concerts. Definitely not a sophisticated audience, mostly sitting on the grass or in lawn chairs, with some seating under the band shell for early arrivals.

            I don't remember whether the concert program was published beforehand, but we went because it was classical music and free.

            Kremer both conducted the orchestra and played one solo concerto. The program was

            Bruckner Symphony 3 (IIRC, certainly not 4,7, or 8 which I know quite well)
            Sophia Gubaidulina Offertorium, which she wrote for Kremer. It is based on Bach's Musical Offering.

            Needless to say, the audience was not expecting this concert. I remember that they applauded politely.

            Apparently Kremer had been touring the world, playing the "Offertorium" and introducing the world to Gubaidulina's music.

            Larry

        • #6
          Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post

          Larry- thanks for doing this, and promptly! My copy just came today, a maroon dog. It looked extremely clean visually, and I ran it through the cleaning regime already, so I'm going to fire it up (hopefully) later tonight.
          Out of curiosity, I also searched for what I had- I found an old Harmonia Mundi box (actually had two of them for some reason, one was DMM, both French copies as I recall), so I cleaned and listened to the non-DMM copy of the side with the 2nd Partita. It was fine, nothing wrong with it, but it didn't move me as much as I thought it should. I'm looking forward to the Heifetz. As mentioned, it was cheap- like 13 dollars.

          PS: the Harmonia discs were of Sijiswald Kuijken. Is HIP the term of art as I know it?
          Bill, HIP = Historically Informed Performance. Usually with original instruments or reproductions. For example, violins with gut strings, tuned lower than A=440, bows without frogs, and the playing style to simulate what is believed to be close to the style of that era. You may know that all the Strads and other Cremona violins that are played today (non HIP) have been signficantly altered - bridges, strings, fingerboards are all later additions.

          Larry
          Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,Lyra Skala+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Otari MX5050B2,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
          Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
          Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
          Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
          Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
          Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
          Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.7KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

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          • #7
            Originally posted by astrotoy View Post

            Bill, HIP = Historically Informed Performance. Usually with original instruments or reproductions. For example, violins with gut strings, tuned lower than A=440, bows without frogs, and the playing style to simulate what is believed to be close to the style of that era. You may know that all the Strads and other Cremona violins that are played today (non HIP) have been signficantly altered - bridges, strings, fingerboards are all later additions.

            Larry
            Well, I learn something every day. I know there was a movement quite a while ago to perform pieces on period instruments, and to use historically "correct" arrangements but there's obviously a lot more to it. I'll have to dig in a bit, fascinating stuff. Thank you for the concise answer, Larry.

            Comment


            • #8
              Among the "classical interpretations", I prefer Grumiaux over Milstein but it is a matter of personal taste.

              If Kuijken was revolutionary when it was released (it is still one of my preferred versions) some more recent interpretations but not available on LP's are pushing the envelope even further (Amandine Beyer, Rachel Podger, etc.).

              What makes the Kuijken's unique is that it is one of the sole HIP versions available on LPs like the Cello Suites by Anner Bylsma released on SEON/RCA (on the latter, the German RCA pressing is way better than the US Pro Arte one). It somehow explains why these two boxsets are not cheap on Discogs. I was lucky to find a mint boxset at my usual brick and mortar second hand record store for 14 euros. I thought that it was a mistake but it wasn't.
              Last edited by dcc; 07-11-2017, 11:36 AM.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by dcc View Post
                I prefer Grumiaux
                Yes! Arthur Grumiaux made the recording in 1960s and despite seeing myself mostly in "HIP camp" I still prefer Grumiaux's rendition over many recent ones on period instruments.

                Comment


                • #10
                  I don't have the Grumiaux, though have quite a few of his records - some with his Grumiaux Trio and some with the great Clara Haskil. I did find I have the Henryk Szeryng version of the Sonatas and Partitas on DGG vinyl, like my Milstein. Comments on Szeryng? Larry
                  Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,Lyra Skala+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Otari MX5050B2,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
                  Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
                  Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
                  Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
                  Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
                  Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
                  Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.7KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by dcc View Post
                    Among the "classical interpretations", I prefer Grumiaux over Milstein but it is a matter of personal taste.

                    If Kuijken was revolutionary when it was released (it is still one of my preferred versions) some more recent interpretations but not available on LP's are pushing the envelope even further (Amandine Beyer, Rachel Podger, etc.).

                    What makes the Kuijken's unique is that it is one of the sole HIP versions available on LPs like the Cello Suites by Anner Bylsma released on SEON/RCA (on the latter, the German RCA pressing is way better than the US Pro Arte one). It somehow explains why these two boxsets are not cheap on Discogs. I was lucky to find a mint boxset at my usual brick and mortar second hand record store for 14 euros. I thought that it was a mistake but it wasn't.
                    I actually have a still sealed box set of the Bylsma - Bach Solo Cello Suites. Bought and returned several sets at Tower records back in the day, trying to get one set with three playable records (most were badly warped). The manager at the store finally told to my to buy the three remaining sets he had, to piece together three good records, and he'd return the rest. First box I opened was fine, returned one of the two others and kept the last one as a backup. Been sitting sealed in my collection since the 1980s. Still my favorite performance of these, though I listen to Starker on Mercury if I want a different take on them.
                    Steve Lefkowicz
                    Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
                    -
                    Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
                    Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
                    Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
                    Speakers: Tekton Perfect SET 15, Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
                    Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
                    Speaker cables: WyWyres Diamond, Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
                    Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
                    Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
                    Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by Steve Lefkowicz View Post

                      I actually have a still sealed box set of the Bylsma - Bach Solo Cello Suites. Bought and returned several sets at Tower records back in the day, trying to get one set with three playable records (most were badly warped). The manager at the store finally told to my to buy the three remaining sets he had, to piece together three good records, and he'd return the rest. First box I opened was fine, returned one of the two others and kept the last one as a backup. Been sitting sealed in my collection since the 1980s. Still my favorite performance of these, though I listen to Starker on Mercury if I want a different take on them.
                      Same experience here. I have two Pro Arte boxsets (US release) with badly warped records and one RCA boxset (Germany pressing) in perfect condition. It is one of my favorite versions with the one from Queyras. Anner Bylsma's cello (a Matteo Goffriller) has a very unique sound which I much prefer to the second version of the Suites that he recorded with a Stradivarius that belonged to Servais.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        I agree with the kuijken lp's..... playing them on my own violin brings an even deeper joy.
                        Last edited by Stringreen; 07-12-2017, 12:54 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Looks like I'll have to add the Kujiken to the collection too !

                          david
                          Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
                          Distribution: NEODIO

                          Special Sales: van den Hul
                          Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

                          Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
                          http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
                          http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

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