New York Newsday and Newsday (c) 1995 Newsday Inc. All rts. reserv.

'IT WAS A KIND OF ICY FIRE' Newsday (ND) - Saturday December 12, 1987 By: Peter Goodman

TEXT: Isaac Stern and Jascha Heifetz used to get together over Ping-Pong or cards, maybe have a meal together. They'd talk about everything but the violin. That was Heifetz' kingdom.

"We never got philosophical on music or violin playing," Stern said yesterday from London, where he is on a concert tour. "That was his area, and his alone.  He was both patrician and absolutely meticulous about his own worth,

"He was not pompous about it, but he expected and demanded a certain respect and attention, and he got it. If he didn't, you knew about it."

For Stern, who grew from his own youthful virtuosity into a position as one of the most eminent musicians in the world, Heifetz was always someone special.  "There is no way of mentioning the history of violin-playing without his name being among the first four or five. There is nobody in music today who doesn't have the sound of Heifetz and the knowledge of what he's done.

"There's no one who does not have the effect of that kind of regal splendor, the patrician power that he had," Stern said. "It was a kind of icy fire, combined with an elegance uniquely his, in a style that was his and not copy-able."

"I was always in awe of his incredible playing ability, but because of its unique quality, the combination of what he was himself, I felt I could not really play that way," Stern continued. "I was very deliberately not trying to emulate him, except as an example of what an extraordinary person could do and what I could learn from that."

Personally, Stern said, Heifetz was "very private. He became rather reclusive in his later years. He was never a very gregarious person."

Heifetz was quite conscious of the awe in which he was held, Stern said. "Some people flaunt it; he didn't. He had his dignity, his privacy."

There was in Heifetz' playing "a silken sheen, a kind of turn of phrase,  an ebb and flow that many young people tried to emulate," Stern continued. "They didn't know that behind this ebb and flow was a psyche that had its own ebb and flow. They saw the tree, but they didn't realize there was his forest. If you copy a tree or bush here, it doesn't make the same forest.

"He was a complete forest within himself. He was an Olympian figure."