Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Heifetz Theory

So, what made the great Heifetz so great and distinct? Everyone knows that there have been other very great virtuosos on the scene – Milstein, Kogan, Oistrakh, Gitlis, Rabin, just to name a very few. But almost universally, Heifetz is recognized as being above and beyond this group. Why? He had a unique style, a unique sound, and prodigious technique for sure, but so do the others. It has been said that his intonation was flawless though it wasn’t. Was it just the seriousness of his playing? My theory is that this intrinsic seriousness was part and parcel of the sound. It was communicated via his tone. Somehow, that sound always told you that something special was happening. Every time I hear someone with a similar tone, I pay attention. I take note. I know there are players out there right now who rival Heifetz’ technique, but that’s as far as they get. They do not have the sound. The secret was in his tone - but, how to describe that sound? If we could say it in words, there would be no need to listen. Still, all in all, my favorite fiddler isn’t Heifetz – it’s Ivry Gitlis.

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