Violin Greats Take on Beethoven

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Many of classical music’s biggest stars came to the WQXR studios throughout the 1940s and '50s, including Jascha Heifetz (right), seen here sitting next to WQXR music director Abram Chasins. Many of classical music’s biggest stars came to the WQXR studios throughout the 1940s and '50s, including Jascha Heifetz (right), seen here sitting next to WQXR music director Abram Chasins. (“Rebel in Radio: The Story of WQXR by Elliott Sanger.”)

In honor of the first week of Beethoven Awareness Month, we offered three giants of the violin -- Jascha Heifetz, Isaac Stern or Itzhak Perlman -- taking on a giant of the concerto repertoire. You chose Heifetz as the violinist you wanted to hear in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

We played it at noon today.


Jascha Heifetz


Isaac Stern


Itzhak Perlman

Comments [29]

Neil Schnall

I'd have voted for Stern from this limited selection, since I think his performances are underrepresented on this station (and I'm not usually around at 3am).

I also would have been happy to hear either Milstein or Oistrakh or both. (No reason you can't program them some time when you're not playing games.)

As for Francescatti, his recordings don't ever show up here. More's the pity, as he was one of the last century's greats. I'd bet money WQXR has his recordings among its archived LPs (assuming they're truthful in averring that they retain them). I'm not holding my breath waiting for any of those to get air time. What a waste!

Nov. 02 2011 04:57 PM
Michael Meltzer

It's great Heifetz, but not really such great Beethoven. Beethoven was still a classical composer, and you don't understand that period if you don't understand the central importance of "pulse" in getting the composer's message out. Yoo often Heifetz dawdles with his virtuosic introspections and improvizations, which are impressive, but the music just stops!
With all his liberties, Perlman never lets this happen, nor does Stern, I think the truest of all (I still hold out for Oistrakh).
More of your listeners would know the Stern if you didn't usually present it at 3 AM.

Nov. 02 2011 12:38 PM
jean rinaldo from Union city, NJ

It would be nice if sometimes you would include some of the greats of the past who may not be as famous as the top 1 or 2% of classical recordings..... I would have liked to see Zino Franscescatti included in this contest.... I personally think his recording is the best.... but I may be in a minority. In any case I know I will enjoy whoever is playing at noon. Thank you for your wonderful station.

Nov. 02 2011 12:13 PM
Louise from Woodhaven NY

Itzhak Perlman, for me, has assimilated the technical prowess of Heifetz, and the emotional depth of Kreisler. He has it all.
He gets my vote!

Nov. 02 2011 11:55 AM
Susan Reid from Staten Island

What kind of choice is this, since they are all stellar performers? But, given that WQXR is the only station playing classical music in NY, I feel I must vote for Haifetz for the following reasons:
o because Haifetz recordings are more difficult to obtain now than those of Stern and Perlman and yours is the only forum where I can hear Haifetz
o Perlman can still be heard in live concerts and on TV

Nov. 02 2011 11:54 AM
Magdalena from nyc

Vote for Perlman.
Thank you for Beethoven awareness month

Nov. 02 2011 11:46 AM
Tanya Stark from Newton, NJ

Mr Perlman, please. He is a living treasure.

Nov. 02 2011 11:45 AM
Beatrice from NYC

Isaac Stern was the master of the violin; his Beethoven is unmatched and remember he saved carnegie Hall

Nov. 02 2011 11:44 AM
Cynthia from Cleveland, OH

A difficult choice, but for sentimental reasons, I want to hear Mr. Stern. I have always loved his performance.

Nov. 02 2011 11:37 AM
John Gonzalez from Laconia, NH 03246

Way up here in New Hampshire and very often with you all. Always played the piano myself (used to concertize in Stamford, Conn) but among violinists I must give the edge to Heifitz (but only an edge)

Nov. 02 2011 11:36 AM
Fred from Kew Gardens

Something old would be new for a change. Let's hear more performances by these earlier virtuosi.

Nov. 02 2011 11:35 AM

My vote is for Perlman, who is perhaps the closest to the "perfect" violinist. Perhaps even too perfect. In truth, I'd actually love to hear Stern's version. True enough, Stern's intonation suffered a bit in his later years, but of all three, Stern's playing was in my view the most soulful. He played with the most warmth and tenderness of the three candidates today. Warmth and tenderness may not be the characteristics most associated with Beethoven, but in his violin concerto, they take center stage.

Nov. 02 2011 11:33 AM
Kerry Willingham from Annapolis, MD

While an oboe major at Indiana University, My roommate, a violinist... now in the Dallas symphony..used to listen to Heifetz slowed down to 1/4 speed or less... Heifetz is just as accurate at that speed! Amazing playing !

Nov. 02 2011 11:30 AM
Joan Kramer

Cast my vote for Pearlman today at noon.

Nov. 02 2011 11:01 AM
Tom from Manhattan doubt. He has just the right touch for this piece of music. His clarity is angelic. Nothing against the other two, mind you but Beethoven cold have written this piece just for Stern! (btw: Joshua Bell does a lovely job with this piece as well.)

Nov. 02 2011 11:01 AM
Abby from Queens, NY

My brothers and I all took violin lessons as children (only one of us still plays) and my Dad would often call us "Jascha Heifetz" or just "Heifetz". Or "Jascha".

This would happen when he wasn't calling one of us "Katie', which was the dog's name.

At least he didn't call the dog "Jascha".

But he did often call her by one of our names.

Nov. 02 2011 11:00 AM
Lorenz Arfsten from Queens N.Y.

Although all three are great violinists and being a life long resident of NYC, I can think of no better place to hear Beethoven than Carnegie Hall. So my choice is Isaac Stern who organized the campaign to save this beautiful concert hall.

Nov. 02 2011 10:41 AM
john from NYC

My love for classical music was formulated in 1962. I love Stern's interpretation of B Violin Concerto. I've been a devoted listener and supporter of WQXR.

Nov. 02 2011 10:22 AM
Katherine Esposito from Madison, Wisconsin


Nov. 02 2011 10:12 AM
Edith Olivenbaum/Pottick from Fort lee, New Jersey, USA

Love at first 'hearing'.
Fell in love with the violin concerto in 1944, at the early age of 12, just back from deportation by the WWII Nazi regime in Bulgaria.
Still 'in love' at 79!
I believe David Ochstreich was the best, ever.

Nov. 02 2011 10:05 AM
Burnside Anderson

You omitted what some consider the best performance, Nathan Milstein recording.

Nov. 02 2011 09:58 AM

Why not select some small pieces that show Heifetz, Stern, Perlman, Oistrakh 's abilities...there is plenty to go around!


Nov. 02 2011 09:51 AM
Custos Libros from NYC

Heifitz owns this bad boy, even if he isn't among my favorite violinists.

Nov. 02 2011 09:26 AM
Henry Valk from Atlanta, Georgia

Among the choices given, I vote for Heifetz. Even the age of his recording cannot mask his peerless technique and the beauty of his interpretation.

Nov. 02 2011 08:34 AM
Zvi Stone from Jerusalem

It would be real cool if you could play Perlman's rendition, conducted by Bairenboim, and then the piano version played by Bairenboim immediately afterwards.

Nov. 02 2011 08:05 AM
Tim Brown from Washington DC

There is so much room for interpretation in Beethoven's seemingly simple notes that it is a special joy to compare the different performances. Issac Stern gets my vote among today's three choices.
Am loving Beethoven Awareness Month, the OBEY THOVEN graphic is awesome.

Nov. 02 2011 08:02 AM

I voted for Perlman with Chicago although my personal favorite is Milstein the most patrician virtuoso playing the most patrician of concertos.

Nov. 02 2011 07:41 AM

I saw Oistrakh perform the Beethoven with the Moscow Philharmonic under Cyril Kondrashin at Chicago's Arie Crown Theater in the 1960's. It was thrilling. Just weeks before I had heard an unsatisfactory rendition by Henryk Szeryng with the astounding CSO under the not-so-astounding Jean Martinon. But Oistrakh blew them away.

Nov. 02 2011 02:22 AM
Michael Meltzer

In excluding David Oistrakh, you omit the first choice of almost anyone who has ever heard Oistrakh's recording.

Nov. 01 2011 08:32 PM

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