While not technically awful, Jascha Heifetz's 1955 recording of Brahms' Violin Concerto with Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony is still close to unbearable. By 1955, Heifetz's once sinewy tone had tightened, his once supple technique had hardened, and his once warm interpretation had grown cold. With the never sinewy, supple, or warm Fritz Reiner, Heifetz creates a performance of Brahms' lyrical masterpiece that grates on the sensibilities.
This is one of the mere handful of great recordings of the Sibelius violin concerto. Not that there aren't many contestants in the field; in fact, it seems that almost every modern violin virtuoso wants to record the Sibelius, and perhaps this isn't surprising, since it's one of the Big Five (along with the Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky) major violin concertos.
Firma Melodiya presents recordings of Brahms and Prokofiev concertos performed by Natalia Gutman and Oleg Kagan. One of the worlds best cellists, a Peoples Artist of the USSR, and an owner of the State Prize of Russia, Natalia Gutman received four competition prizes when she was a student.
A smart concept smartly executed, this disc called Heifetz: Double Concertos features the great violinist dueting with three different string soloists in three different concerts from three different periods. How well it works is a matter of taste. In all three works, Heifetz lives up to his reputation for brilliance: slashing in Bach's Concerto for two violins in D minor, elegant in Mozart's Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola in E flat, and sternly passionate in Brahms' Double for violin and cello in A minor.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a German composer and pianist and is considered a leading composer in the romantic period. His best known pieces include his Academic Festival Overture and German Requiem.