Jascha Heifetz seemed to have sprung to life fully formed—a male-child Minerva with a fiddle. From the start, his was gripping, original, and fully mature musicianship: He played with astonishing technical accuracy, an infallible sense of structure, and searing intensity. He was essentially the same violinist in 1972, when he played his last recital in Los Angeles, as he was when he made his US debut at Carnegie Hall on October 27, 1917, as a newly arrived teenager from revolutionary Russia.
Listening to Heifetz’s first recordings, made for Victor immediately after his Carnegie Hall debut, we find some sentiment in abundance, but little sentimentality—an important distinction. Itzhak Perlman has called him “the greatest violinist that ever lived,” and he may well have been. Certainly, he has had a profound effect on the violinists who have followed him: Technical sloppiness would never again be tolerated.
From the Archives
Jascha Heifetz at Carnegie Hall
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