The Glazunov performance was among the first substantial recordings Heifetz made. He had been a top Victor artist since 1917 and his discs had also done well in Europe, where they were marketed by His Master’s Voice and its affiliates; but up to 1934 he had made no concerto records. RCA Victor and HMV arranged a two-pronged strategy by which he would record in England with the young John Barbirolli and in America with the charismatic Leopold Stokowski. The English end of the deal went well, as Barbirolli was an excellent accompanist, and early in 1934 successful performances of the Mozart ‘Turkish’ and Glazunov Concertos were set down. But an attempt to record the Sibelius Concerto with Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra resulted in a clash of wills and a performance which Heifetz refused to have issued. And so his major projects were centred on England, where he had a big following, until the end of 1937, when RCA Victor began to find congenial American partners for him. In recording the Glazunov Concerto - a lovely work neglected today, because its brevity does not fit conveniently into the stereotyped overture-concerto-symphony programme - Heifetz was stealing a march on his colleague Nathan Milstein, who was more closely linked with it. But how beautifully he plays it, and how well he matches the trumpet theme at the start of the finale.
Bruch was one of Heifetz’s specialities and he sculpted the melodies of the First and Second Concertos with a patrician elegance. He even excelled in the Scottish Fantasy, a folksy picture postcard written for Sarasate. Here Heifetz’s aristocratic delivery of the genuine Scots songs could even make one forget that he made a few little cuts here and there. This performance was recorded just after the war in Hollywood, as Heifetz had moved to the West Coast after the collapse of his first marriage. The orchestra was presumably drawn from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with a few of the superb players who worked for the film studios. In charge on the podium was that great character Hans Wilhelm Steinberg (1899-1978), originally from Cologne. He helped to found what is now the Israel Philharmonic and after emigrating to the United States became ‘William’ - although during his spell with the Buffalo Philharmonic he happily referred to himself as Buffalo Bill.