J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Jascha Heifetz
Individual Works:SONATAS

No. 1 G Minor, BWV 1001
No. 2 A Minor, BWV 1003
No. 3 C Major, BWV 1005


No. 1 B Minor, BWV 1002
No. 2 D Minor, BWV 1004
No. 3 E Major, BWV 1006

Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:RCA Gold Label
Catalog Number:09026-61748-2
Year Released/Recorded:1952
Total Playing Time:2h 4m 58s
Comments:Charlie Choi said:

It's a unique recording of Bach's work. He made best use of del Gesu's brilliant violin.

Haley Castanho said:

This Heifetz' performance can hardly be surpassed by any other violinist (as brilliant as he/she might be) because he was a perfectionist and possessed an outstanding command of the instrument what enabled him to play these pieces not only faithfully to the metronome but also displaying a show of interpretation and passion. The masterful "cleanness" of the playing conveys us the impression of listening to several "voices", it is, not only just one violin but two, three, four all playing together but each one perfectly distinguishable! It is a unique opportunity to enjoy the matching of two geniuses, composer and performer, enhanced by Heifetz' mastery and silken tone he used thoroughly to spellbind his audiences throughout the world for 83 years! For the ensemble of his work always performed with the highest degree of professionalism, masterfulness and passion, Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) is considered by many the most distinguished violinist of the twentieth century.

The Serious Listener said:

The Master Himself

The Heifetz recordings of J. S. Bach's Sonatas and Partitas appear to have been some of the early attempts of the "Direct to Disk" technology where the live recording signal was transferred directly to the record cutter, (probably an Ortofon) which became the record mold. Master vinyl records were then pressed as the final product. The CD sounds like a taped recording of one of these Master Pressings, the rhythmic scratches give that away, and the tape hiss with the occasional (but very annoying) tape dropouts are obvious side effects of the magnetic media. But beyond those superficial limitations are clearly etched the sonic signature that is undeniably Jascha Heifetz, the brilliant virtuoso whom the majority of musicologists and musicians and audiophiles worldwide refer to as the greatest violinist - EVER.

His works are presented in sequential BWV order. The accompanying pamphlet describes a little about Bach, the works therein, and the artist. This particular recording was a re-release as part of The Heifetz Collection, on the RCA Gold label. I don't recall the price.

Mr. Heifetz has his ups and downs in this effort. Where the Bach composition demands a fast and furious performance, Heifetz shines bright. An example; ending the third Sonata; allegro assai, he plays as though it is second nature to him - because it is.

But alas, when he does the revered Ciaccona, Jascha becomes Heifetz' worst enemy. Heifetz is fallaciously known for his superb technique, more correctly his pretension is to race through many of his performances at a blistering pace. Concentrated attention to the actual performance shows the Heifetz technique is not as impressive as the first perceived. His passages are choppy, abrupt and unfortunately impatient.

Jascha, nobody dashes onto the Brahms like you, and then continues to perform a cadenza beyond belief, and the Mendelssohn was just play-doe in your hands, but I'm sorry, the Ciaccona was not meant to be yours.

Reader, please don't be discouraged by my review. If you worship only the Ciaccona, then look elsewhere. Otherwise, there is still much that this truly magnificent performer has to offer. Even with the limited shortcomings, I would not hesitate to purchase this work again, after all, it is the great Heifetz!

John Peters said:

Heifetz gives a brilliant performance both in technique and virtuosity. Absolutely nothing is faked. In both the slow and fast movements he does not miss a note, a pitch, or a beat. You will not find a finer recording.

Matt Hayt said:

Heifetz once again proves why he is called the best of the twentieth century. Anyone who has ever attempted to play any of the Bach Sonatas or Partitas for violin, could testify to the technical difficulties therein (most ameuture violinists would be content just to play through one sonata without missing a note). But the Bach sonatas and partitas are far more than just "playing the notes." Heifetz, staying true to the Baroque style in almost every way, brings out every melody as Bach intended, to the extent that each (sometimes as many as 4) melody can be clearly distinguished. Although frequently reffered to as an automatron of the instrument, Heifetz proves quite the contrary in these recordings. In particular, in the Chaconne, where he adds great expression and passion, to what appears to be (on paper) some kind of needlessly difficult etude medley. Needless to say, Heifetz plays with unwavering technical perfection. A good companion for this recording, for any fan of the Chaconne (or of Heifetz) is the "Heifetz Master Class Series Vol.6. It is also noteworthy to mention that there is a persistant "tape-hiss" throughout the entire recording. It doesn't detract from the cd, but if you listen to it, now you'll no that it's the recording and not your speakers gone bad. A must for anyone looking to tackle the Bach unaccompanied themselves.

David Perrine said:

Heifetz was a great violinist, but with little feeling for Bach. Boring performances recorded with a flat, dry sound.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Charlie Choi
  • Haley Castanho
  • The Serious Listener
  • John Peters
  • Matt Hayt
  • David Perrine
Date First Submitted:12/24/1995