Classical Reissue Reviews

Benno Moiseiwitsch, piano (Beethoven) William Kapell, piano (Brahms) Artur Rubinstein, piano (Franck)


Published on May 15, 2005

Benno Moiseiwitsch, piano (Beethoven) William Kapell, piano (Brahms) Artur Rubinstein, piano (Franck)
Benno Moiseiwitsch, piano (Beethoven) William Kapell, piano (Brahms) Artur Rubinstein, piano (Franck)
Naxos Historical 8.110990 75:47****:

Three classic performances brilliantly played by Jascha Heifetz
(1900-1987) and stunningly transferred to CD by Mark Obert-Thorn,
wherein each of the sonatas pairs Heifetz with an equally outstanding
keyboard artist. The earliest of the collaborations is the Franck
Sonata from 1937, with Artur Rubinstein (1886-1982) in solid form in
this, one of many recordings he and Heiftez made together, although
never again as a duo. Although the later Heifetz performance from the
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion has a bit more nervous energy, this is an
exemplary account of the Franck, particularly if one is partial to
Heifetz high-wrist bow pressure and occasional, romantic slides. The
Recitativo-Fantasia comes off a bit wiry as well as sweet, but for the
combination of sheer mechanics and blazing speed, Heifetz has virtually
no peer. Rubinstein is in a poetic mood, as he always had a soft spot
for Franck (I owned the 78s of his Prelude, Chorle et Fugue).

The association with virtuoso William Kapell (1922-1953) might have
given us the complete Brahms sonatas, but Kapell had inscribed only the
D Minor in November 1950 when he died in a plane crash, returning from
an Australian tour. The febrile artist gives the Brahms piano part
muscular and supple treatment, not always on the bar line, but staying
right with Heifetz for some pungent ensemble of a high order. The last
pages of the Brahms quite scintillate after the delicate and
sentimental third movement. The opening sonata, the Kreutzer in A,
dates from London studio sessions May 14-15, 1951 with Benno
Moiseiwitsch (1890-1963), a colorist of first rank who made no other
chamber music appearances on record. The artists made two complete
versions of the sonata, since Heifetz felt the earlier takes detracted
from his violin sound to the advantage of the piano. The nicety of
balance in the present inscription achieves a tonal splendor in the
Andante con Variazioni movement, where each melodic development and
rhythmic nuance has character and tender grace. With the majority of
the Heifetz legacy on CD, I would expect collectors who lack these
performances to scoop them up in this consolidated edition.

- Gary Lemco




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