It has been quite a month for violinists here -- Stern, Milstein, Mintz and Perlman (twice). Add now to that list Daniel Heifetz, who played a passionate, superbly executed recital last night at the Library of Congress. He may be the least well-known among these players, but in this month's performances only Stern matched the standards that were heard last night.
Heifetz, who is now in his mid-thirties, became known here when he won the Merriweather Post Competition in 1969. He is a powerful player and interpreter. His sound is not particularly sumptuous, but it is very strong. His articulation is remarkably clear, and his intonation is impeccable.
Even more impressively, he is, like Stern, willing to risk an occasional slip in order to go to the dramatic and musical heart of a piece. Last night's performance of the imposing Franck Violin Sonata may not have been quite as polished as Perlman's earlier this month, but it projected considerably more intensity. The opening was unusually slow and soft, with lots of rubato; it evoked more mystery than Perlman did. The taxing allegro that followed was played with real abandon. Samuel Sanders, by the way, was the pianist for both violinists, and he also played with more intensity last night.
That magnificent G-minor Chaconne attributed to Vitali was done by Heifetz and Sanders with similar style. As the music alternates back and forth between rapid and broad variations, the players were impressively steady, building momentum to a smashing climax.
The Beethoven sonata of the evening was one of the nicest of the early ones, the A-major, Op. 12, No. 2. Last night it was full of charm.
Finally, there was a little-known Lee Hoiby Sonata, with the composer at the keyboard. It is a big, bold tonal sonata, with an especially strong touch of Shostakovich in the sardonic scherzo. A good work.