My Home is on the Mountain

About the Book: Discography: Violin

The music in MY HOME IS ON THE MOUNTAIN is focused on the violin. I needed to hear, and know, the music the characters knew, so concentrated on getting recordings from the earliest possible in existence to about 1930, and then expanded to learn as widely as I could the whole violin world. The list below is what I collected through the writing of the story, and my thoughts on them.

"The Auer Legacy" (six-disc collection of recordings made 1906-1937)

Auer, Leopold; Kathleen Parlow; Cecilia Hansen; Isolde Menges; Mischa Elman; Jascha Heifetz
(AAP, 1991 c1906, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1930, 1932) with named and unnamed piano accompanists
[A three-set series featuring the students of the legendary violin teacher Leopold Auer. The compilers' research was formidable, collecting recordings from private collections, sometimes the only known recordings in existence. Look at the dates of the original recordings! The sound is pretty good, considering what the engineers would have been dealing with. Also, note the number of women students Auer had, and how many went on to record.]
Zimbalist, Efrem; Frances Macmillen; Nathan Milstein; Toscha Seidel; Eddy Brown
CUI. GLINKA. SAINT-SAËNS. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV. Others. "The Auer Legacy: Volume Two"
(AAP, 1992 c1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1916, 1918, 1932, 1936, 1937) with named and unnamed piano accompanists
[The second of this three-set series of early recordings by students of the violin teacher Leopold Auer. Not every student went on to a glorious career. Here from this disc, Macmillen faded early, as did Auer's first American student, Eddy Brown.]
Dushkin, Samuel; May Harrison; David Hochstein; Alexander Petschinkoff; Mishel Piastro; Myron Polyakin; Max Rosen; Mischa Weisbord
(AAP, 1998 c1914, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1931) with named and unnamed piano accompanists
[The final of this three-set series of early recordings by students of Leopold Auer. This disc contains May Harrison's only known recording. Through the whole series, there is not one example of Bach. But see Powell, below.]


Accardo, Salvatore
PAGANINI. Works for violin and orchestra
(EMI, 1992 c1984) The Chamber Orchestra of Europe (cond. Tamponi)
[A bunch of Paganini's bite-size pieces, including variations, the showy and rather tedious Moto Perpetuo and a viola sonata (also played by Accardo). I was surprised to find that I didn't really enjoy Accardo, but that might not be his fault, as a little Paganini goes a long way.]
Aşkin, Cihat
KREUTZER. 42 Études
(Kalan, 2006)
[Aşkin is a leading violinist, active as a teacher and competition judge in Turkey and throughout Europe. His biography notes that he played all 24 caprices by Paganini before he was fifteen. Here he tackles all 42 of Kreutzer's exercises, which are considered the set of studies that gives the student a whole teaching course in these brief pieces.]
Bálint, Mária
PAGANINI. Violin concerto
(Hungarotron, 1990) Budapest Symphony Orchestra (cond. Lehel)
[Bálint was another woman soloist I was glad to add to my list. Very good playing here in a difficult concerto, because Paganini was all about the difficult.]
Barachovsky, Anton
BRAHMS. Violin sonatas
(Diem, 1998) with William Grant Nabor… (piano)
[I first thought these were played a little too slowly, but now I enjoy them. The two musicians don't overdo the thundery bits, but keep them dramatic.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
BACH. Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
(Avie, 2016)
[Barton Pine is one of the greatest living virtuosas, in my opinion, and my evidence is this and the following recordings. Barton Pine won the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition (first American and youngest competitor ever) and a few years ago had her dynamics published by the leading sheet music publisher, Carl Fischer. She has a YouTube "masterclass" series for violinists explaining her approach, based on her detailed understanding of Bach's manuscripts and the music of his time. How can you not love a violinist who plays an example and then admits she has to restrain herself from continuing because the music is just that much fun to play? These sonatas and partitas are the fruit of many years of studying and playing. Her album notes are wonderful. To quote just a short bit: "The Sonatas and Partitas are among the greatest human achievements and I have always viewed them with the deepest reverence. However, remembering Bach's essential humility prevents these masterpieces from becoming overwhelming in their significance. Instead, each time I play them, I feel as though I'm conversing with the very best of friends." I confess I teared up when I first read this.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
(Cedille, 2004)
[Playing a 1770 Gagliano violin (unmodernised, therefore baroque), Barton Pine is stunning. I have several recordings of von Biber's Passacaglia, but this one has you leaning forward, breath bated, heart pounding, as the variations come tearing out. She also gives us a Bach sonata (No. 1) and a Partita (No 2, with the Ciaconna/Chaconne she so deeply interprets) and she is demonstrably as utterly at home with the baroque violin as with the modern one. Of course. She can Do. No. Wrong.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
BEETHOVEN. CLEMENT. Violin Concertos
(Cedille, 2008) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Serebrier)
[I trekked down to the coast after work one evening to hear Barton Pine play with this orchestra (signed copy of disc!) and it was absolutely worth almost missing the last train back to London. She commands the stage.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
BRAHMS. JOACHIM. Violin Concertos
(Cedille, 2002) Chicago Symphony Orchestra (cond. Kalmar)
[A thought-provoking pairing of the giant of the 19th century (in my opinion) and his friend and the towering violinist of the same period (after Paganini). I had the great pleasure and honour of hearing Barton Pine play the Brahms (signed copy!) and it was this that made me a fan forever ♥. Joachim's concerto is not much played now, but he advised many other composers, so it is interesting to hear his own work.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
(Avie, 2019) Royal Scottish National Orchestra (cond. Abrams)
[Another interesting paring by Barton Pine. I like her attention to the local music you can hear in these composers. As usual, her playing is impeccable, subtle, and strong.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
ELGAR. BRUCH. Violin Concertos
(Avie, 2018) BBC Symphony Orchestra (cond. Litton)
[Could this be my favourite interpretation of the Elgar? Barton Pine chooses pairs of concertos from contemporaries and it is always illuminating.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
HANDEL. The Sonatas for Violin and Continuo
(Cedille Records, 1997) with David Schrader (harpsichord), John Mark Rozendaal (cello)
[All of these sonatas were once ascribed to Handel; now three are not, but Barton Pine rightly says they are so worth listening to that they should be included. I agree!]
Barton Pine, Rachel
(Cedille, 1998) with Wendy Warner (cello)
[Twentieth century duos for violin and cello. I like all of these, perhaps the Kodály a bit better than the others.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
(Cedille, 2013) Göttinger Symphonie Orchester (cond. Mueller)
[Schumann's concerto was suppressed for a long time, until another woman violinist, Yelly d'Aranyi, managed to record it, just ahead of Menuhin. Is it as unsuitable for human ears as the original judge, as the great violinist Joachim decreed? No, but it doesn't really grab me. The Mendelssohn, however, is one of the great, great concertos. Here also are Beethoven's two romances, so an incredibly Romantic period album.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
MOZART. Complete Violin Concertos
(Avie, 2014) Academy of St Martin in the Fields (cond. Marriner) with Matthew Lipman (viola)
[Barton Pine's beautiful playing on these make it my go-to. When I imagine Airey playing the 4th, I especially listen to Barton Pine, although the cadenzas, all composed by her, would differ from Airey's own. I love those violinists (too few) who have revived the important art of composing cadenzas: these show the player's understanding of and meditation on the themes. Also included, a lovely Sinfonia Concertante with the viola.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
(Cedille, 1998) with David Schrader (harpischord), John Mark Rozendaal (cello), Patrick Sinozich (piano), John Bruce Yeh (clarinet)
[Who couldn't love this? The Liszt, Berlioz, de Falla are all adapted, Berlioz by Parton Pine and her accompanist Sinozich. Super fun and you don't remember until afterwards that several of the pieces, especially the Ernst, are considered, well, devilishly difficult.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
SARASATE. Homage to Sarasate
(Dorian, 1994) with Samuel Sanders (piano)
[Barton Pine kicked off her professional career with this dynamite collection of Sarasate pieces. These are very attentive to Sarasate; this is an altogether great album.]
Barton Pine, Rachel
(Cedille, 2000) with Matthew Hagle (piano)
[I had been reading about Maud Powell as part of my research when I found this album. I was thrilled! I have some historical recordings by Powell (see below) but this is such a great modern salute, and the pieces from Powell's oeuvre are very well chosen and of course superbly played. This is a wonderful tribute by one great virtuosa to another.]
Bell, Joshua
SIBELIUS. GOLDMARK. Violin concertos
(Sony, 2000) Los Angeles Philharmonic (cond. Salonen)
[Sibelius is an obvious choice for a soloist who wants to show what he can do; the Goldmark is a less obvious choice, not because it is easier to play—quite the contrary—but because it is seen as a lesser work. Bell does a good job. I am not a mad fan of Bell's, as I think he peaked quickly and so did not keep working on himself. I have seen him twice live. The first time he was throwing himself around like a ribbon in a storm, and I thought much energy was being dissipated. The second time, he had stopped his "soul in thrall" antics and played very beautifully. I bought this particular disc for the Goldmark. Bell's vibrato is like many younger players: obtrusive enough to be a tremolo. His slow music is swoopy and dramatic, but that will be partly down to the conductor. It's a perfectly valid interpretation, and I find the final notes wonderfully controlled and just right. ]
Berg, Hans-Joachim
BENDA. Violin sonatas "with original ornamentation"
(Naxos, 2010) with Naoko Akutagawa (harpsichord)
[Benda is not high up on the well-known composer charts, but he music is nicely put together. I find his ornamentations, that is, the trills and in-fills, sometimes intriguingly strange. Berg's playing reminds me of an oboe.]
Bonucci, Rodolfo
(Euromusica, 1991) with Bruno Canino (harpsichord)
[I like the combination of violin and harpsichord. I think the two go better together than violin and piano, which is a percussion instrument, while the harpsichord is a plucked instrument. The violin came into its own during the heyday of the harpsichord, so they grew up together, so to speak. I bought the disc for Viotti's Duetto, a truly difficult work to play, as I toyed with it being one of the pieces played by Airey. It does sound like two violins playing, even though it is Bonucci alone.]
Braun, Matitiahu
(Musicians Showcase, 2007)
[Braun has been a violinist in several American orchestras and, to my eye, has issued this and another disc under what would be seen, in book publishing, as a self-publishing venture. His playing is fine.]
Breuniger, Albrecht
LIPINSKI. Violin Concertos 2, 3 & 4
(CPO, 2003) Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (cond. Rajski)
[Definitely romantic, definitely Polish and very romantically Polish, too. The second concerto is super military by intent, the others are much shorter, but still stirring. Lipinski was a virtuoso violinist; quite a trick, when one is a contemporary of Paganini. The playing by Breuniger, who effortlessly meets Lipinski's challenges, and of the orchestra, are both first rate.]
Brown, Iona
TELEMANN. Five Violin Concertos
(Philips, 2006) Academy of St Martin in the Fields (cond. Iona Brown herself) with Alan Cuckston (harpsichord)
[Telemann is always such a pleasure, and Brown's playing here is extremely good: clean, well-paced, and heart-lifting.]
Busch, Adolph
BEETHOVEN. Sonatas for violin and piano
(APR, 1995 c1931, 1933) with Rudolf Serkin (piano)
[Busch left Germany in horror and disgust after Hitler came to power, leaving his sterling career behind, but he remained an important player and contributed much to American music. Before he left Germany (and after), he played with his son-in-law Rudolf Serkin, and these recordings from 1931 and 1933 show what a wonderful connection they had. Indeed, one family member remarked that they seemed very much in love. A meeting of the souls? It certainly sounds it here.]
Busch, Adolph
BEETHOVEN. BUSONI. Violin concertos
(Instituto Discografico Italiano, 1999) New York Philharmonic (cond. Fritz Busch); Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (cond. Walter)
[The Beethoven was recorded in 1942. Busch's brother Fritz, a conductor, had a more secure post-Germany career than Adolph. Wonderful that they were recorded live together here in 1942. The Busoni dates from 1936.]
Busch, Adolph
BRAHMS. BACH. Violin sonatas
(Magic Talent, 1996 c1931, 1932) with Rudolf Serkin (piano)
[Recorded in 1931 and 1932, when Busch and Serkin were still in Germany. The Bach solo (Partita no. 2, the one almost always played in isolation back then, so that violinists could play the Chaconne, was recorded in 1929. The sound quality is as good as can be expected.]
Busch, Adolph
BRAHMS. MENDELSSOHN. Violin concerto, sextet, capriccio
(Music & Arts, 2001) French National Orchestra (cond. Kletzki); Busch Quartet
[Live recording from 1949. The Mendelssohn Sextet is his own quartet supplemented. The quality is pretty good, and Busch's playing is always interesting.]
Busch, Adolph
SCHUBERT. Fantasie for violin, piano trio
(Archipel Records, 2005) with Rudolf Serkin (piano) and Hermann Busch (cello)
[The Trio dates from 1935, the Fantasie in 1931. If you want to hear what a violinist recording at the time as the story is set, listen to Adolf Busch.]
Bustabo, Guila; Ricci, Ruggiero
(Symposium, 2005 c1960) with various accompanying pianists and orchestras)
[I picked up this disc to get the Bustabo recordings, as I wanted to have at least something by every woman violinist playing in the early 20th century. Bustabo was a prodigy who débuted in New York in 1931 as a young teenager. She began to tour in Europe in 1934, apparently married a German officer, and seems to have become a Nazi herself. Thus the career ended. The disc also holds early recordings by a young Ricci, who went on to an illustrious career; see below.]
Cappelletti, Andrea
TARTINI. Otto Piccole Sonate per violino solo
(Koch Schwann, 1993)
[Tartini was a violinist and was of the school that saw the violin as a "voice". His music is, compared to many of his contemporaries, simple and straightforward. Cappelletti does a wonderful job.]
Cappelletti, Andrea
PERGOLESI. ALBINONI. TORELLI. NARDINI. "Tribute to Stradivarius: Virtuoso Violin Concertos"
(Koch Schwann, 1998) European Community Chamber Orchestra (leader: Adelina Oprean)
[A concerto from each of the four composers, who were violinists and so could bring their knowledge of that instrument's capabilities (and limitations) to their compositions. Cappelletti's playing is splendid, as is that of the orchestra. A fine recording indeed. Also, is it just me, or are the two largo movements in the Torelli in rather a closer spitting distance of Barber's famous adagio for strings than is comfy? Given Barber's partner was Italian, a composer, and a music student, one wonders.]
Capuçon, Renaud
BEETHOVEN. KORNGOLD. Violin concertos
(Virgin, 2009) Rotterdam Philharmonic (cond. Nézet-Séguin)
[In my story, one character says that a virtuoso player makes music new, even the music that people have already heard a hundred times. I later had proof of this in my own life. I was listening to an online radio station and Beethoven's violin concerto came on. I truly had heard this hundreds of times, but I stopped everything and just listened, as if hearing it for the first time. In the aftermath, as I flew to order the disc, I knew that I had just experienced what I had written. My firm belief is that true masters give us music in this way for us to hear it for the first time, and this was personal proof. Capuçon showed me.]
Chang, Sarah
GOLDMARK. Violin concerto.
(EMI, 2000) Gürzenich-Orchester Kölner Philharmoniker (cond. Conlon)
[My goodness, this is definitely a full-blooded interpretation of my beloved Goldmark. Super-assured playing, strong vibrato. A singing final movement. The orchestra throws in an overture by Goldmark and it's nice.]
LALO. SAINT-SAËNS. Symphonie Espagnole, Violin concerto 3
(Denon, 1997) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. López-Cobos)
[Chee-Yun has a wonderfully confident and sure touch and is just right for these two emotional pieces.]
Clavier, Denis
HAHN. Violin concerto, sonata, nocturne
(Maguelone, 2016) Orchestra National de Lorraine (cond. Quattrocchi) with Dimitris Saroglou (piano)
[Hahn leaves me a little cold, although the second, slow movement of the concerto is appealing and the other pieces, with piano, have grown on me. Clavier's playing is just as it should be in these French-style pieces. Nothing dark, but meticulous.]
Conti, Diego
LOCATELLI. "L'arte del violino"
(Olga, 2006) Gli Archi di Firenze (direttore: Conti)
[There is an absolute mass of compositions by Locatelli, who flourished in the early 18th century. It was a time when the sure show-stopper was the playing of very, very high notes by the soloist while the rest of the players sat quietly. I don't think the bat-squeaks appeal much these days. They certainly don't appeal to me. However, once Locatelli has checked them off the list and got past the solos, his set of twelve concertos, each with five movements, with two capriccios per concerto, is an amazing edifice, and Locatelli's ringing the changes within this strict structure shows that constraints never inhibit the truly creative.]
Csaba, Péter, and Vilmos Szabadi
SPOHR. Duets for two violins op. 148, op. 150
(Hungaroton, 2002)
[The Spohr Society of Great Britain sponsored this and the following recordings, and that is commendable. These are extremely appealing performances of attractive music that should be more widely known.]
Csaba, Péter, and Vilmos Szabadi
SPOHR. Duets for two violins op. 9, op. 153
(Hungaroton, 2006)
[The other recording sponsored by the Spohr Society of Great Britain, and again, super to have. I read that these two discs are the first recordings of the Spohr duets. Really shocking. It shows how the cult of the super-star can completely overshadow other great composers of the time.]
Danczowska, Kaja
FRANCK. SZYMANOWSKI. Violin Sonata, Mythes & other pieces
(Deutsche Grammophon, 1981) with Krystian Zimerman (piano)
[A bit of cheek calling the pianist "with" when these pieces are very much duos, but hey, this is a violin-positive space. I think theirs is perhaps the most compelling version of the Franck sonata I've heard, and others concur.]
De Vito, Gioconda
BEETHOVEN. BACH. VIOTTI. HANDEL. VITALI. Violin Concertos, Sonatas, Ciaconna
(IDIS, 2004 c1948, 1951, 1953) Philharmonia Orchestra (conds. Bernard, Erede); Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra (cond. Gui), with Yehudi Menuhin, George Malcolm (harpsichord)
[De Vito is a much-submerged violinist who was known in Europe after WWII (she never played in North America), who recorded little, and who retired before her time. The Istituto Discografico Italiano did quite a bit of sleuthing to find all her extant recordings. This disc, the third volume, covers 1948-1953, with a previously unreleased Beethoven concerto, where not even the orchestra or conductor is known. And yet she was considered the leading woman violinist of post-war Europe!]
De Vito, Gioconda
BRAHMS. MENDELSSOHN. Violin Concertos, Sonatas, Ciaconna
(IDIS, 2007 c1952) Orchestra Sinfonica di Torno della RAI (cond. Furtwängler)
[Volume 5 of the complete set assiduously collected by the Istituto Discografico Italiano, here offering two live recordings from 1952, during De Vito's glorious reign in Europe. The older, live recording clearly cannot do justice to her sound, but we have to be grateful for what we have.]
De Vito, Gioconda
(Andromeda, 2011 c1954, 1956, 1957, 1959) Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (cond. Jochum); Tito Aprea, Tullio Macoggi, Antonio Beltrani (piano)
[A mixed gathering of recordings from the 1950s, which De Vito was very active, with another recording of the Brahms, her "set piece," as it were, and a mix of full and selections from various sonatas, including a stand-alone Ciaconna from Bach's Partita no. 2. The Leclair sonata is really nice.]
De Vito, Gioconda
(Archipei, 2004 c1953, 1954)Philharmonia Orcestra (cond. Schwartz); Orchestra Sinfonica di Torno della RAI (cond. Rossi)
[I found it very difficult to get the whole set of the Istituto Discografico Italiano releases, so I bought what I could find. De Vito recorded the Brahms several times, and it is a pleasure to hear them one after the other, to hear what she changes or where, as a consummate musician and professional, she has "nailed" something and kept it.]
Degand, Stéphanie-Marie
(Intrada, 2002)
[A set of solo violin pieces to introduce a new young violinist. I bought it for the von Biber. All of these pieces have their own challenges, and Degand very much shows off her skills. I am always happy to add another woman soloist to my collection. She is currently the artistic director of the ensemble La Diane Française and, what is cool, is also a conductor.]
Dubeau, Angèle
TELEMANN. Sonatas for Two Violins
(Analekta Fleur de Lys, 1995)
[Dubeau and Dubeau! How can you not like that! This must have been a fun record to make, and Dubeau's unsentimental and clean tones seem very right for Telemann. When I decide I want to hear Telemann violin, I very often play this most satisfying recording. And also, yay, a Canadian violinist!]
Dubeau, Angèle
TELEMANN. Twelve Fantasias for Solo Violin
(Analekta Fleur de Lys, 1995)
[Dubeau is well-known in Canada and not so much outside the country, but I think this might be her choice. She is active in musical education for the young, which I applaud. This set of Telemann's fantasias is so rewarding; I simply like the way she plays.]
"Duo Allegro" - Bowen, Virginia and Zoya Leybin
VIOTTI. BLUMENTHAL. Seven violin duos
(Bay Records, 2009)
[Duo Allegro themselves put out this charming album of Viotti's seldom-heard duets. The Blumenthal (who died in 1856) is a premier recording.]
Edinger, Christine
FRANCK. Violin Concerto and symphony
(Audite, 2000) Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken (cond. Frank)
[No, not that Franck, but Eduard Franck, who lived at the same time and who is far less well-known. Indeed, this disc is the premiere of his work, so a discovery! And one well worth making. I like the violin concerto a lot. Edinger is spot-on with her choices.]
Ehnes, James
(Onyx, 2000)
[Ehnes, a Canadian virtuoso (yay maple leaf!) plays six Stradivarius violins, three from the Guarneri family, and three rare violas, including a c1560 Gasparo de Salò, which is almost the pre-dawn of the modern stringed-instrument family. Ehnes plays the standard encore pieces, which were written to show off a virtuosic talent, and so Ehnes can show off these instruments. The packaging of this disc is very attractive, and there is a DVD where you can see these legendary instruments.]
Ehnes, James
TCHAIKOVSKY. Violin concerto and pieces
(Onyx, 2011) Sydney Symphony (cond. Ashkenazy) with Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
[A very thoughtful, moving Canzonetta. Ehnes has a lovely charcoal touch. Ashkenazy was the pianist on the first Chopin record I ever bought, so I am fond of him, and I also think he is a good conductor. I get both here!]
Eichhorn, Friedemann
RODE. Violin concertos 3, 4 & 6
(Naxos, 2009) Jena Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Pasquet)
[Rode was a famous violinist in his day, premiered Beethoven's violin concerto, and wrote many of his own, as well as exercises for students that are played to this day. Eichhorn composed his own cadenzas. Rode's music is really wonderful.]
Eichhorn, Friedemann
RODE. Violin concertos 7, 10 and 13
(Naxos, 2009) South West German Radio Kaiserslautern Orchestra (cond. Pasquet)
[Another top-notch recording of these incredibly appealing concertos. Great playing by Eichhorn and the orchestra. These recordings of Rode are, shockingly, premieres. It took until 2009!!]
Elman, Mischa
MASSENET. ARENSKY. SCHUMANN. CUI. DRIGO. SARASATE. Others. Virtuoso Violin Masterpieces
(Vanguard, 2004 c1959, 1960, 1966) with Joseph Seiger (piano)
[Recorded when he was about 70, these pieces by Elman showcase both the standard encores and show-stoppers that his generation regularly churned out on stage. Elman débuted in the USA in 1908, one of the wave of brilliant Russian violinists coming from Leopold Auer's classroom. The second disc of this set is a round-up of all pieces by Kreisler, an older generation of soloist, who composed under his own name and also passed off his own work as discovered compositions of older, half-forgotten composers, it seems by way of a joke.]
Ferschtman, Liza
RÖNTGEN. "The Violin Concertos"
(CPO, 2011) Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz (cond. Porcelijn)
[Julius Röntgen's violin concerto in A minor is one of my guilty pleasures! I find it absolutely delightful, and Ferschtman's playing is beautifully judged. Röntgen is not exactly a household name, but this is so pleasing that I find myself tiptoeing down from Mount Parnassus, away from Bach and Brahms, to have an enchanting time with the A minor concerto and the Ballad very often. These should be far better known! I love them. Listen to one-minute tasters, especially the finale.]
Fischer, Julia
BACH. Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
(Pentatone, 2005)
[Fischer plays, on this disc, a Guadagnini from 1750 and, from the photos, it seems to have been left a baroque violin. Her playing here is so assured and so perceptive.]
Fischer, Julia
BACH. Violin Concertos
(Decca, 2009) Academy of St Martin's in the Fields
[Includes the A minor (BWV 1043) and the E major (BWV 1042), plus the concerto for two violins and for oboe and violin. Fischer impressed from the start of her career, and in my opinion, as with all first-rank violinists, she gets better all the time, as she thinks and re-thinks. I have had the pleasure of seeing her play in person.]
Fischer, Julia
BRAHMS. Violin Concerto and Double Concerto
(Pentatone, 2007) Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Amsterdam (cond. Kreizberg) with Daniel Müller-Scott
[Fischer's playing is powerful and technically awesome. To play Brahms as well as she does means a deep, deep musical understanding.]
Fischer, Julia
BRUCH. DVOŘÁK. Violin Concertos
(Decca, 2013) Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich (cond. Zinman)
[What can I say? Superb. The Tonhalle-Orchester under Zinman is such an added bonus.]
Fischer, Julia
MOZART. Violin Concertos 3 & 4
(Pentatone, 2005) Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Amsterdam (cond. Kreizberg)
[I had to have her Mozart 4, of course, and everything else was just gravy. This disc also includes the Adagio for Violin and Orchestra and the Rondo for ditto. Fischer often writes her own cadenzas, something I admire.]
Fischer, Julia
TCHAIKOVSKY. Violin Concerto
(Pentatone, 2006) Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Amsterdam (cond. Kreizberg)
[Fischer not only plays the concerto, but also the original slow movement, which the composer renamed Souvenir d'un lieu cher, plus the Valse-Scherzo. I can't keep going on about how the Tchaikovsky is not my top fave, but when violinists of the rank of Fischer play it, I must listen.]
Fontanarosa, Patrice
(Forlane, 1989 c1980) Orchestre Symphonique de Radio-Tele-Luxembourg (cond. Soudant)
[A charming disk of well-known short violin pieces, played with a nice touch and tone. Disc includes Albinoni's Adagio in G minor for strings and organ, so a real pleaser all around.]
Francescatti, Zino
BRAHMS. BACH. BEN-HAIM. RAVEL. SAINT-SAËNS. Salzburger Festspiele 1958
(Orfeo D'Or, 2008 c1958) with Eugenio Bagnoli (piano)
[A collection of pieces Francescatti offered at the Salzburg Festival, one of the music meccas for Europe before and after WWII, and indeed up until the present day. His Bach is Partita no. 1, a nice change from the usual no. 2.]
Frank, Pamela
MOZART. Violin Concertos 1-5
(Arte Nova, 2000) Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich (cond. Zinman)
[Frank is an American violinist who recorded and played in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hers is an expressive style. She now teaches. Zinman, the conductor, wrote 4 of the 5 cadenzas.]
Gähler, Rudolf
BACH. Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
(Arte Nova, 1999)
[The question asked since the time when Bach's solo violin works were being discovered by a wide audience in the 1800s, and more so in the 1900s is what Bach imagined the violinist would do when presented with chords. A violinist can play one note easily, two notes pretty easily, and then it gets tough, because the strings form a curved surface, unlike the flat strings of a guitar or lute. Musicians have decided that Bach was suggesting sounds and it is up to the player to decide what cluster of notes to play first, then what to play second. A few stubborn souls point to the "springy" bow used in Germany in Bach's time, and that Bach wrote precisely what he wanted to be played: if a chord, then to be played as a chord, not an arpeggio (that is, the notes one or two at a time). I think this is correct, but the world has settled on a bow not ever found in Bach's time, and it is with this modern bow that we try to play Bach. We can't, and we don't. That Bach's suites for solo violin (and cello, BTW) still remain among the highest peaks of music is down to his music. If you want to know more, here is a good article on the Bach bow issue.]
Galoustov, David
(Lyrinx, 2001) with Julien Gernay (piano)
[Galoustov's début record, showing him in all the expected pieces. I particularly like his Souvenir d'un lieu cher, which features in my story in an orchestral version. He seems now to be both a soloist and a teacher.]
Gimpel, Bronislaw
BRUCH, DVORAK. GOLDMARK. KREISLER. Violin Concertos and pieces
(VoxBox, 1996 c1956, 1957) Southwest German Radio Orchestra (cond. Reinhardt); Pro Musica Orchestra (cond. Cremer)
[This appears to be the only Gimpel available on disc. The Bruch and Kreisler pieces were never released. Gimpel was never seen as a strong or technically great violinist and was not popular in the USA, but he remained a top favourite in Europe because of his, well, I can only say his soul. His interpretations have something in them that no other player gives us. BUT— in the Goldmark, and this is a huge BUT— someone (Gimpel?) has chopped out a whole chunk of the last movement. The full and proper score shows the soloist given what I will call two solos, the second being almost a cadenza of the first. Then the orchestra comes in, does its thing, and slows to a silence, and then something like organ chords come as if to to calm everything, and the soloist springs forth sweetly and melodically to the end. The "church organ" moment is gone here and we just alide to the final melodic part. I know most versions of Goldmark that are now commonly played are shorn of some solo passages, but really, this is a butchery. Schmid, below, plays this truncated third movement, and Kocsis, also below, does even worse. I guess these violinists wanted to feature the violin even more than it is (and Goldmark really favours the violin throughout), so they feel free to take a knife to Goldmark. Incredibly disrespectful.]
Gleusteen, Kai
FRANCK. DVOŘÁK. Grieg. Violin sonatas
(Crear, 2004) with Catherine Ordronneau (piano)
[When I choose a piece of music to be in the story, I want to hear it from all angles, so I buy recordings from all different players. This beautifully-produced CD is from Crear, in a remote part of Argyll in Scotland. It must have been wonderful to record in that clear sea light. Their Grieg is especially wonderful.]
Graffin, Philippe
FAURÉ. SAINT-SAËNS. LALO. GUIRAUD. CANTELOUBE. "Rare French Works for violin and orchestra"
(Helios, 2011 c2001) Ulster Orchestra (cond. Fischer)
[Graffin is such a luminous player. I really like his playing here in Lalo's fantasie norvégienne.]
Gringolts, Ilya
ARENSKY. TANEYEV. "The Romantic Violin Concerto"
(Hyperion, 2009) BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (cond. Volkov)
[I had not heard of either of these composers, but it was Gringolts, so I was in. Like both a lot. The Taneyev took me some time to warm to, but both are so darn Romantic and Russian and how in the end can anyone resist?]
Gringolts, Ilya
ERNST. Violin works
(Hyperion, 2008)
[Gringolts is a fearless player, having made his name with the Paganini caprices and tackling difficult and sometimes obscure music. Here, he covers some well-known and less well-known Ernst, all of it technically challenging, and yet he is showing the music, not his skill. I was lucky enough to see him live in recital. BTW, really lovely album cover.]
Gringolts, Ilya, with Alexander Bulov
(BIS, 1999) with Irina Ryumina (piano)
[An album that gives me endless pleasure. What a delight these two young violinists are in the studies by Wieniawski for two players! Great composers' study material is also always actual music. These two also give us an Alard duo (no. 3 from op. 27) that I listen to very, very often, and Moszkowski for two violins and piano. Gringolts was pretty much straight out of school (and winning prizes) and this album is just young joy from all three musicians.]
Grubert, Ilya
ERNST. "Music for Violin and Orchestra"
(Naxos, 2005) Russian Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Yablonsky)
[Some lesser known (to me) Ernst pieces, e.g. Rondo Papageno along with standards, and a concerto (Pathétique) also unknown to me. Good strong playing by all the Russians.]
Grumiaux, Arthur
BACH. Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
(Philips, 1993 c1961)
[I find myself going to Grumiaux for almost everything: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, because of his beautiful sound. Belgian born, French trained, he stood in a different channel to the flow of diamond-pure Russian-trained violinists. His technique is not second to them, but he emphasised the heart of the music rather than his own prowess.]
Grumiaux, Arthur
BEETHOVEN. VIOTTI. Violin Concertos
(Eloquence, 2005 c1966, 1970) New Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Galliera); Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (cond. Waart)
[Really nice to have Viotti's concerto No. 22. Grumiaux's Beethoven is all firm tenderness, and he gives it a spiritual structure, if I can call it that, which I think it needs.]
Grumiaux, Arthur
(Philips, 1994 c1960, 1972, 1974, 1976) Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (cond. Davis); New Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Krenz)
[In the 1990s, record companies realised they could get a second bite at profits by re-issuing their back catalogue as CDs. This one is like filling up a plum cake with 100% plums and no cake. All the major violin concertos here, with Grumiaux's mature interpretation on them. Beethoven's Romance No. 2 thrown in, because why not.]
Grumiaux, Arthur
BEETHOVEN. Violin Sonatas
(Brilliant, no date, c1956, 1957) with Clara Haskil (piano)
[The partnership of the legendary Clara Haskil with Grumiaux is like two heavens meeting. This complete set of the Beethoven violin sonatas is surely one of the greatest peaks of recorded music.]
Grumiaux, Arthur
MOZART. Violin Concertos
(Philips, 1993, c1962 1965, 1967) London Symphony Orchestra (cond. Davis); New Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Leppard); Arrigo Pellicia (viola)
[The complete violin concertos, plus the Adagio (K 261), Rondo in C (K 373), and Sinfonia Concertante (K 364), so almost all the sublime Mozart violin you can have in one place.]
Grumiaux, Arthur
TELEMANN. Twelve Fantasias for Solo Violin, Five Violin Concertos
(Eloquence, 2007 c1970, 1984) Academy of St Martin in the Fields (cond. Brown)
[I play Grumiaux's performance of Telemann's solo fantasias over and over again. They are my go-to. The concertos are also high on my list. Grumiaux just has that touch.]
Haendel, Ida
BACH. Partitas and Sonatas for Solo Violin
(Testament, 1996)
[Haendel, having been taught in the 1920s and 1930s, comes with a different sensibility to today's younger violinists, and I welcome the difference. Technically, Haendel was always brilliantly precise, but she was also acute in her colourings and emotions. She recorded this performance in her great second golden period.]
Haendel, Ida
BRUCH. BEETHOVEN. Violin Concertos
(Testament, 1996 c1948, 1951) Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Kubelik)
[These performances were originally recorded during what I consider the height of Haendel's first great period.]
Haendel, Ida
ELGAR. BACH. Violin Concertos
(Testament, 1996 c1978) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Boult)
[Evidently Haendel was a last-minute substitute; she was always overlooked and yet, when she played, people were blown away. This disc includes the Bach Chaconne from Partita No. 2, as a "stand-alone" and this was something she made her own throughout her career. Comparing earlier and later performances is to hear her shift it from serenity to resignation.]
Haendel, Ida
(Classica d'Oro, 2002 c1945) National Symphony Orchestra (cond. Sargent)
[Two of the great violin concertos under a superb conductor and with Haendel in her first of two great periods. The Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso is included.]
Haendel, Ida
(Supraphon, 2004 c1965, 1963) Prague Symphony Orchestra (cond. Smetáček); Alfréd (piano)
[I find myself choosing her version of Glazunov's concerto when I want to hear it, mostly for her, but also for the orchestra, who handle the "lumpen" passage adroitly. The Tartini is the famous "Devil's Trill" for violin and piano.]
Hahn, Hilary
PAGANINI. SPOHR. Violin Concertos
(Deutsche Grammophon, 2006) Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (cond. Oue)
[Hahn has chosen two composers who were contemporaries. The Paganini concerto (no. 1 in D major) is the violinist's showstopper, but the Spohr (no. 8 in A minor) is an interesting choice. Spohr keeps teetering on the brink of rediscovery.]
Hansen, Cecilia
MEDTNER. Violin Sonata
(APR, 1999 c1947) Nicolas Medtner (piano)
[This disc, of the complete solo piano recordings by Nicola Medtner of his own compositions, includes his Violin Sonata No. 1 in B major, op.21, with Cecilia Hansen. Hansen hailed from my hometown of Calgary, Alberta. She went to Russia to be trained by Leopold Auer (she was a contemporary of Heifetz) and began a solo career. Unfortunately, she suffered professionally, as did Haendel with her father, by having her mother as her manager and constant companion, which did nothing good for her career and indeed seems to have killed it dead. There are very few recordings of Hansen; I bought this disk in order to have the sonata. The recording, transferred from a 78, is pretty rough.]
Hanslip, Chloë
BAZZINI. Works for Violin and Piano
(Naxos, 2007) Caspar Frantz (piano)
[Hanslip began as a young star, with press photos showing a girl in pigtails. She recorded what might be considered lesser stars in the violin repertoire; since I wanted to hear more than the usual greats, I was delighted. Bazzini is mostly known now for his La Ronde des Lutins ("fairy dance" or "goblins dance," a virtuoso show-piece), and it was a treat to become acquainted with his other charming pieces.]
Hanslip, Chloë
GODARD. Violin Concerto, Concerto Romantique
(Naxos, 2007) Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Košice (cond. Trevor)
[Godard, now very obscure, is well worth a wider hearing, on the basic of the Concerto no. 2 for violin and orchestra. The Concerto Romantique, also for violin, is something I play often. Hanslip is assured, a pleasure to listen to.]
Hanslip, Chloë
HUBAY. Violin Concertos 1 and 2
(Naxos, 2008) Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (cond. Mogrelia)
[Nice to have both Hubay concertos together. Hubay was a Hungarian through and through and a violinist. He often played with Liszt. Later he became a teacher and taught, among others, Szigeti and Flesch. Hanslip seems to have a real understanding for the romantic violin repertoire, and this disc truly confirms it.]
Heifetz, Jascha
BACH. Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin
(IDIS, 2008 c1935, 1952)
[The first sonata was recorded in 1935, the rest in 1952. Did someone mess up the first sonata in 1952 and so they grabbed a version off an old shellac 78? The accompanying notes don't explain. Heifetz was regarded as technically perfect, but many felt he was a bit remote, even robotic. Isaac Stern, in his autobiography, says that since Heifetz stood alone on that peak of perfection, he himself would try another route, that of feeling. I think Heifetz, especially in early recordings, is full of emotion and thought. I mean for heaven's sake, he was a Russian, and I've never heard a Russian play music other than through his or her heart. Perhaps later on Heifetz played by rote, but I'm not hearing that in these Bach suites, not at all.]
Heifetz, Jascha
BACH. Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin
(IDIS, 2003 c1952)
[Yet another set of the 1952 recordings of the solo sonatas and partitas, but they have thrown in the 1935 recording of sonata no. 1. To bulk out the disc? For compare and contrast?]
Heifetz, Jascha
BACH. Sonatas, Partita
(EMI, 1992 c1925, 1934) with Arpád Sándor (piano)
[A bit of a mixed bag, with Sonatas 1 and 2, the nested minuets from Partita no. 3, and two parts from the English Suite, which is for solo piano, but he has arranged them for violin and piano, which, were I the pianist, would grate on me mightily. I have the English Suites for solo piano, as Cecilia plays them, and hearing a violin in them is just strange and so wrong.]
Heifetz, Jascha
(Naxos, 2000 c1934, 1939, 1947) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Barbirolli); RCA Victor Orchestra (cond. Steinberg); Philadelphia Orchestra (cond. Ormandy); Emanuel Feuerman (cello)
[Three recordings spanning what I would call Heifetz's great period, when he could play with anyone he wanted to and they all wanted to record with him. The Brahms double concerto for violin and cello does seem to me always dominated by the cello, and hard even for a master to get around that, but it's so beautiful. The Bruch is not the violin concerto but the Scottish Fantasy.]
Heifetz, Jascha
(Naxos, 1993 c1955, 1957) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Barbirolli); Chicago Symphony (cond. Reiner)
[Heifetz was in his middle 50s when he recorded these, and still very much in his power, although to me a certain stiffening is happening, when I compare the Brahms of 1955 with that of 1939. Not worse, but more sure of his established interpretation.]
Heifetz, Jascha
BRUCH. BEETHOVEN. SPOHR. Violin concertos, Romances
(Naxos, 2011 c1951, 1954) London Symphony Orchestra (cond. Sargent); RCA Victor Orchestra (conds. Solomon, Steinberg)
[Here's some fun: we get not just the famous Bruch concerto but the other, much neglected (listen and find out why), plus Beethoven's two Romances and a big plus, Spohr's concerto no. 8, a really nice piece, and one that should come back as a standard.]
Heifetz, Jascha
MOZART. MENDELSSOHN. Violin concertos
(EMI, 2006 c1934, 1947, 1949) London Philharmonic Orchestra (conds. Beecham, Barbirolli)
[The Mozart no. 4 was the reason for adding this album to my shelves, but I do love the Mendelssohn and I think Heifetz gives it a real shine.]
Heifetz, Jascha
SIBELIUS. Violin concerto
(Guild, 2015 c1934) Philadelphia Orchestra (cond. Stokowski)
The album is a collection of Sibelius pieces conducted by Stowkowski. Recommended for the Heifetz performance in the violin concerto. I think Stokowski conducts a little too slowly and heavily, but he's fine here. Sadly, the balance in the recording of the concerto is not top-notch.]
Heifetz, Jascha
(Naxos, 2006 c1935, 1937) London Philharmonic Orchestra (conds. Barbirolli, Beecham)
[An earlier recording of the Tchaikovsky, a fiery Wieniawski, as how could Heifetz know fear? and a really driving Sibelius. Heifetz's technical mastery wasn't finicky; he really powered through things when he needed to.]
Heifetz, Jascha
(Pearl, no date c1925,1926, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1937) London Symphony Orchestra (cond. Barbirolli); Emanuel Bay, Isidor Achron, Arpád Sándor (piano accompanists)
[A long list of composers' names means a lot of encore or show-stopper pieces. This one has all the favourites, including Bazzini's show-off La Ronde des Lutins (which, in my opinion, really could be dropped from everyone's repertoire) and Ravel's Tzigane, which is a bit of a floozy (Ravel lowered himself, frankly) but is insanely hard to play. Airey hears Debussy's La plus que lente, Mendelssohn's Auf flügeln and Sarasate's Zapateado on Cecilia's recordings.]
Hoelscher, Ulf, and Gunhild Hoelscher
SPOHR. Concertantes for two violins
(DeutchlandRadio, 2004) Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin (cond. Fröhlich)
[Nice to have this much Spohr. He was a new composer to me and I sought out more of his violin work as time went on.]
Holloway, John
BACH. Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin
(ECM, 2006)
[Holloway uses a baroque violin and bow, which he feels gives him greater expressive resources, and he says in the notes to the disc. He used a facsimile of Bach's handwritten score, which is famous for being fully written out, that is, Bach was specific in his notation and didn't just sketch in the general flow of the music and leave room, as was usually done, for the performer to add whatever he felt best. I find his playing fine, but I'm not swept away.]
Holloway, John
BIBER. The Mystery Sonatas
(Virgin Veritas, 2002 c1990) Tragicomedia (accompanists) with Davitt Moroney (chamber organ, harpsichord)
[I fell in love with von Biber's Passagalia when Rachel Barton-Pine played it (see above) and wanted to hear other versions, mostly to confirm that hers was my favourite (I am nothing but fair to other violinists). She still is. Not that Holloway is a poor second-best, but his interpretation isn't, to me, commanding. But the main joy of this disc is the complete Mystery, or Rosary, sonatas, very much composed as musical meditations on the five joyful, five sorrowful, and five glorious sacred mysteries that the rosary represents.]
Hu, Nai-Yuan
GOLDMARK. BRUCH. Violin Concerto
(Delos, 1995) Seattle Symphony (cond. Schwarz)
[Some interesting timings and a quick pace. This works particularly well in the first movement, which definitely ends emphatically—lots of drama! The slow movement is at a nice, slow pace, although it speeds up for (a little too much?) drama. Some odd notes; or deliberate? Final movement again emphatic, brisk, and yet lush. The second concerto here is not Bruch's widely played first, but his second. I don't think it's ever going to displace the first, but I am glad it is still being played.]
Irnberger, Thomas
GOLDMARK. Violin Concerto & Violin Sonata
(Gramola, 2013) Israel Chamber Orchestra (cond. Salomon) with Paul Kaspar (piano)
[The concerto is perhaps a little subdued for a Romantic-period concerto. The violin can be thin on the high notes; Goldmark's sudden soarings takes a lot of control. Still, a fine interpretation. Goldmark's violin sonata is not often heard, and should be, as there are many lovely, striking things in it.]
Jenson, Dylana
GOLDMARK. Violin Concerto
(GRSymphony, 2005) Grand Rapids Symphony (cond. Lockington)
[This is a live recording made at Carnegie Hall by the Grand Rapids Symphony. I went to a great deal of trouble to get it from the Symphony's business office, and it was worth it, as Jenson gives an absorbing reading. She mainly teaches, and I warmed to her because she believes that violinists today trap their violins in neck-towels and shoulder-braces and so on and that this is neither good for the sound nor for the dexterity of the left hand. I can't help but agree. The recording also includes Dvořák's Domov Muj overture, so a doubly nice album to own.]
Joachim, Joseph; Pablo de Sarasate; Eugène Ysaÿe
(Pearl, 1992)
[Like a great wine from over one hundred years ago, these ancient recordings provide only a fleeting, thin taste of how these masters must have sounded. I note that Joachim's vibrato is spare, if it is there at all, and I think it makes everything less warbly and more clear. His recordings were made in 1903. Ysaÿe is more swoopy, but appealingly romantic. Ysaÿe's recordings were made in 1912. Sarasate's recordings, mostly of his own compositions, were made in 1904. He absolutely flies through Bach's Preludio from Partita no. 3. Things tended to be played faster in ye olden days, but man...]
Josefowicz, Leila
(Avie, 2018) Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (cond. Dutoit)
[Josefowicz has had a career of two parts, the first was all promotion and dazzle, as the Prokofief definitely shows, and now a really thoughtful exploration of the major works with leading orchestras. This discography is the music I listened to while writing the book, but I have bought more Josefowicz since then, as I am very keen.]
Josefowicz, Leila
(Philips, 1997) Academy of St Martin in the Fields (cond. Marriner)
[The disc is titled Bohemian Rhapsodies and is meant to signify show-stoppers of the romantic period. And they certainly are with Josefowicz. Her career was just starting and my goodness she shows what is in her. And yet this is not all fireworks; the Chausson is beautifully understood.]
Kennedy, Nigel
(EMI, 2007 c1997) City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (cond. Rattle)
[Kennedy was a massive presence in the British and European music scene in the 1980s and 1990s. He had a punk/bad boy image and proved, in his career, truly a rebel, moving away from the establishment, into jazz, and moving to Poland. I heard him live playing Bach and jazz, and he was clearly passionate about both. His Elgar here is full of emotion, correctly, for Elgar was a romantic man through and through. The bonus treat is Vaughan-Williams' The Lark Ascending, which is one of the most beautiful violin pieces ever written (and written for a woman violinist, Marie Hall). I have heard a lark (a lark bunting) singing as she rose over the Canadian prairie, and I have heard larks high above the meadows in England. If I believed in a deity, I would truly find it in the lark's song, and in this music, pure praise to a beneficent Creator.]
Kennedy, Nigel
(EMI, 1988) English Chamber Orchestra (cond. Tate)
[Kennedy recorded all the major concertos in this heyday, before he bowed out of the scene. I am not perhaps a total fan of his approach. It's clear he loves this music. The Schubert Rondo in A is a lovely climb from slow to spirited. This is the Schubert in the concert scene.]
Kennedy, Nigel
(EMI, 1992 c1986, 1988) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Kamu); City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (cond. Rattle)
[Good, brisk versions of these, Kennedy showing off his virtuosity and sort of checking off the classic works. He's lush in the slow movement of Tchaikovsky.]
Keylin, Misha
VIEUXTEMPS. Violin Concertos 1 & 4
(Naxos, 2000) Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Burkh), Arnheim Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Yuasa)
[Vieuxtemps clearly did not care that you had to sell your soul in order to get the technical skill to play these. The orchestra merely wraps a cool towel around the audience's head between attacks. Great playing by Keylin.]
Kimura, Rie
(Resonus, 2015) with Robert Smith (viola da gamba) and Guillermo Brachetta (harpsichord)
[This trio, calling themselves Fantasticus do a pretty fantastic job on these sonatas. I bought for the Tartini, as I knew Mr Broeggen had taught his music to Airey, and the Veracini sonaatas were a plus.]
Klimov, Oleg; Larisa Abakian
BRUCH. BACH. Violin Concertos
(Prism, 1997) Philharmonia Symphony Orchestra (conds. Ivanenko, Tsatishvili)
[I bought this disc for the Bruch violin concerto with violinist Oleg Klimov, and spotted that the Bach double violin Concerto had, as one of its violinists, a woman, Larisa Abakian. Always nice to add another to my list.]
Kocsis, Albert
GOLDMARK. Violin concerto
(Hungarotron, 1990) Savaria Symphony Orchestra (cond. Petrò)
[This disc has Mária Bálint that I normally would have combined into one listing, but I had to rant and Ms Bálint did not deserve to be involved. I understand that composers get edited all the time, either because there is wiggle-room in the manuscript score vs the printed score, or because historians are interpreting, or because some devices in music fall out of favour and modern players quietly excise or adjust things. Then there is wholesale butchery, and here we have it. I had to keep checking to see if this was the Goldmark violin concerto that was being played or some grotesque parody. Who was responsible for the wholesale chopping out of essential parts of the score? Swapping bits around? Kocsis? Shame on him. Would this be done to Beethoven? Or is a poor defenceless second-rank composer fair game for the machete? If you want to hear Goldmark's work with the least chops and cuts, listen to Perlman or Milstein or Tsu, but never listen to this. Appalling.]
Kogan, Leonid
(Revelation, 1996 c1952, 1957) State Symphony Orchestra (conds. P. Kogan, Kondrashin); Grand Symphony Orchestra of State Radio Committee (cond. Gauk)
[Kogan is less well known than David Oistrakh, but he is an equal master, in my opinion, and has, to my ear, a more nuanced touch. But there's not much between them. Both were superlative Russian-tradition players.]
Korcia, Laurent
YSAŸE. Six Violin Sonatas for violon seul
(Lyrinx, 2005 c1995) with Benjamin Loeb (piano)
[Ysaÿe compositions are, contrary to his playing style, very "modern" and often difficult to listen to, in the way of 20th century compositions. Korcia does a good job. He was seen as a rising star when young, faded a bit, as young stars often do, and I note that, sadly, he has not recorded much.]
Kreisler, Fritz
BACH. MOZART. BEETHOVEN. MENDELSSOHN. BRAHMS. "The earlier concerto recordings (1915-1926)"
(Pearl, 1993 c1915, 1914, 1926) Landon Ronald and Orchestra (cond. Ronald); Berlin State Opera Orchestra (cond. Blech); London Symphony Orchestra (cond. Ronald); Efrem Zimbalist (violin and unnamed string quartet)
[I wanted this disc because of the Brahms, which I love, and the Mozart no. 4, which is in my story and I do feel these give me a good taste of early Kreisler. He was a revelation when he hit the world stage in the 1880s/1890s; his style was like nothing heard before. His almost inhuman constant vibrato made his notes rich. As Airey says, perhaps too rich. He was famously lax about practising, and thus a complete Viennese. And he naughtily passed off his own compositions as "in the style" of obscure composers, until caught in the 1930s.]
Kreisler, Fritz
BRAHMS. MOZART, SCHUMANN. "The complete concerto recordings Vol. 2"
(Naxos, 2000 c1924, 1927) Landon Ronald and Orchestra (cond. Ronald); Berlin State Opera Orchestra (cond. Blech); Michael Raucheisen (piano)
[Naxos' series of the complete recordings by Kreisler, concertos, solo pieces, and so on, runs to ten discs. For me, that was devotion to the violin too far; I have only two. I wanted this disc because of the Brahms, which I love, and the Mozart no. 4, which is the same recorded performance at the listing directly above. This is the curse of collecting collections: so many repeats! My Heifetz discs suffer the same problem of duplicates.]
Kreisler, Fritz
BRUCH. BRAHMS. "The complete concerto recordings Vol. 4"
(Naxos, 2001 c1924, 1936) London Philharmonic Orchestra (conds. Barbirolli, Goossens); Berlin State Opera Orchestra (cond. Blech); Michael Raucheisen (piano)
[A different recording of Brahms violin concerto, this from 1936, and the Bruch from a very busy recording year for Kreisler, 1924. Cecilia's family would have had all Kreisler records (what we would now call "78s") in their combined music collections.]
Kudenkampff, Kreisler, Fritz, Bronislow Huberman, Albert Spalding, Efrem Zimbalist, Erica Morini, Others
BRAHMS. SUK. GEMINIANI. BARTOK. RIES. Others. "20 Great Violinists"
(Living Era, 2006 c1923-1955) with named and unnamed piano accompanists
[Oh, how I laugh when I look at this disc, bought when I felt I should know perhaps a little more about the violin in the early 20th century, and thought this single disc would do. But not to be too hard on myself: this disc covers all the big names, and Oistrakh playing Bartók's Six Rumanian Dances gave me one of the pieces for a late scene in the book. All but two the violinists here are to be found elsewhere on this page, as I did finally realise I needed to have more than one single sampler.]
Kussmaul, Rainer
VIOTTI. Violin Concertos 19 & 22
(CPO, 1995) Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss (cond. Goritzki)
[In the course of my listening adventure, I came across Viotti, and at once enjoyed his music. He lived at the same time as Beethoven, but his music to me is more Mozartian, that is, no thundering. Nice playing by Kussmaul.]
Laursen, Kai
SVENDSEN. HOLM. GADE. GRAM. LANGGAARD. Violin concertos Vol. 2
(Danacord, 2010) South Jutland Symphony Orchestra (cond. Garaguly)
[All Danish! Danish composers, Danish musicians, and a really nice set of discs. I particularly like the Svendsen.]
Lautenbacher, Susanne
LOCATELLI. Violin Concertos 1-6 and 7-12
(CPO, 2003) Mainz Chamber Orchestra (cond. Kehr)
[After WWII, Lautenbacher recorded masses of music, and history has looked back and saw her as a workhorse, yet she was a student of Szerying. Locatelli's The Art of the Violin was not an obvious choice to record back then, and she remained the only one who did all the concertos until very recently. I first heard Locatelli from her bow, so I will always like these.]
Lin, Joseph
BUSONI. Violin sonatas
(Naxos, 2007) with Benjamin Loeb (piano)
[Busoni was a pianist as well as composer, so the piano parts here are not mere obligatory shadowing. He was rather overshadowed by the great composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but he has a lot to offer, and this is a very nice disc, and nicely played.]
Little, Tamsin
BRAHMS. SIBELIUS. Violin Concertos
(EMI, 1992) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Handley)
[Tamsin Little is a British treasure. Her services to the violin should be rewarded by a Damehood, IMHO. (added in 2023: I see she was given a CBE! Excellent!) This early recording shows a younger Little bringing so much nuance as well as power to both these difficult pieces. I saw her live; she spoke about, and then played, the Elgar violin sonata and forever changed the piece for me. Musician, educator, and splendid person.]
Manze, Andrew
HANDEL. Complete violin sonatas
(Harmonia Mundi, 2004) with Richard Egarr (piano)
[Manze wins all sorts of awards, but I am afraid I am not very excited by his playing. For instance, there's a gawdalmighty squeak in the G major that is absolutely unnecessary. I direct you to Barton Pine's version.]
Manze, Andrew
TARTINI. "The Devil's Trill and other works"
(Harmonia Mundi, 1997)
[Although Manze is not my favourite (see above) I was absolutely blown away by his version of Tartini's famous Devil's Trill sonata (Tartini said the Devil had come to him in a dream and played music that Tartini tried to recapture upon waking), which Manze plays in an entirely new and absolutely gripping way. I never had understood what the fuss was about, although I know it is gaspingly difficult to play. Manze plays without accompanist and adds what would have been supplied with some chords, and my goodness it works. The other pieces are equally hard to play, the Pastorale with the violin unconventionally strung.]
Martzy, Joanna
(Doremi, 2005 c1960) with Leon Pommers (piano)
[Martzy was a Romanian violinist who achieved some fame after WWII, but who did not tip over into the big time, and whose career was really at its final ebb when this recording was made of a live performance in Montreal. It is a shame.]
McAslan, Lorraine
YORK BOWEN. Violin concerto
(Dutton, 2006) BBC Concert Orchestra (cond. Handley)
[York Bowen was an English composer of the period around the turn of the 20th century. His violin concerto dates from 1913, although first performed in 1920 by soloist Marjorie Hayward. I find it nice to listen to, very much of its time, and none the worse for that. The disc includes his piano concerto, which is also nice.]
Menuhin, Yehudi
(EMI, 1996 c1930, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1943) with Marcel Gazelle, Hendrik Endt, Artur Balsam, Hubert Green, Ferguson Webster (piano accompanists)
[A bunch of composers' names tells you this is a round-up, and this round-up covers Menuhin's early years. He was playing as practically a toddler and was taken by his parents to Europe to study in the late 1920s. His first record was released in 1928 (he was 12), and these recordings followed through the next decade. At first I resisted them, because to me a child can only bring technical achievement and not thought, and from Menuhin's own autobiography, he reveals that he really didn't understand the inner working of music until a young man. Nevertheless, I now listen to these show-pieces with much more appreciation, because there was something there. Critics have said the instinctive magic heard in these early recordings was lost once he grew up. I'm not sure. He changed, yes, but given that he was never introspective, perhaps that magical core was protected and preserved.]
Menuhin, Yehudi
BEETHOVEN. Violin concerto, Romances 1 & 2
(EMI, 2002 c1960, 1962) Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (conds. Silvestri, Pritchard)
[I bought this disc for the romances, as the first features in my story, but I also wanted to hear what Menuhin makes of the concerto, as it is an odd one, rather diaphanous and needing a strong vision to make more than a series of repetitions.]
Menuhin, Yehudi
BRUCH. ELGAR. Violin concertos
(Naxos, 1999 c1931, 1932) London Symphony Orchestra (conds. Elgar, Ronald)
[Elgar himself conducted Menuhin in his concerto, and it remains an astonishing performance. The Bruch, recorded the previous year, is also good. There was a reason Menuhin was hailed as a wunderkind.]
Menuhin, Yehudi
MOZART. Violin concertos 1-5, Sinfonia Concertante
(EMI, 1990 c1961, 1962, 1963) Bath Festival Chamber Orchestra (cond. Menuhin); Rudolf Barshai (viola)
[The Bath Festival flourished after WWII and Menuhin was heavily involved, as artistic director, as soloist and as a conductor, thus attracting attention and an audience. Lovely to have his mature playing in the full set of violin concertos, with the Sinfonia Concertante rounding off the two-disc set.]
Menuhin, Yehudi
VIVALDI. Five violin concertos
(EMI, 1983) Polish Chamber Orchestra (cond. Maksymiuk)
[Late Menuhin in these pleasing violin concertos. Vivaldi does not, in my view, stretch any competent violinist, and Vivaldi's compositions were not regarded as worthy of virtuosos during the first half of the 20th century, although played occasionally as nice little pieces. The Four Seasons suddenly became all zeitgeisty in the 1970s and soon everyone was recording him, including the elderly Menuhin. As Vivaldi's music is delightful, and can be profound, this is a win.]
Milstein, Nathan
BACH. Sonaten & Partiten für Violine solo
(Deutsche Grammophon, 1985 c1975)
[Milstein recorded Bach's six sonatas and partitas in 1975, although he had already recorded them in the 1950s. By 1975 he was largely retired but he states that he wanted to preserve his later thoughts on these pieces. I would love to hear the virtuosas record these every time they felt they had further insights, even if that meant twenty times through their lives. See Tetzlaff, below.]
Milstein, Nathan
BEETHOVEN. BRAHMS. Violin concertos
(EMI, 2001 c1957, 1954) Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (cond. Steinberg)
[The disc notes say "This is playing of supreme accomplishment and you listen in wonder."  Yep. I note that the cadenzas for both concertos were by Milstein.]
Milstein, Nathan
GOLDMARK. LALO. Violin concerto, Symphonie Espagnole
(Testament, 1995 c1959, 1955) Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Blech)
[Milstein plays the Goldmark with a big chunk of the first movement removed. This music-ectomy was widely adopted by others and I do not approve. His version of Goldmark's slow movement is pretty fast, but I forgive him this and (sort of) for his cuts in the former movement for his lovely precision here on the high notes, that too many others squeak. Milstein is a superb technician, and his playing is, to me, Russian romantic par excellence.]
Milstein, Nathan
(Naxos, 2003 c1945, 1942, 1940) Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York (conds. Walter, Barbirolli); Chicago Symphony Orchestra (cond. Stock)
[Milstein was, as I say above, super-romantic and so these super-romantic concertos really suit him.]
Milstein, Nathan
TCHAIKOVSKY. GLAZUNOV. Violin concertos and pieces
(EMI, 2005 c1957, 1954) Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (conds. Steinberg, Irving)
[Two big Russian romantic concertos for Milstein to extract everything out of. He also plays Tchaikovsky's Souvenir d'un lieu cher, orchestrated by Glazunov, which features in my story. Glazunov's Meditation is also thrown in. A piece I very much like. Oddly, the disc set includes a DVD of Milstein playing Bach's Chaconne from Partita no. 2, Preludio from Partita no. 3 and a standard encore show-stopper, Nováček's perpetuum mobile, a piece I like far less.]
Milstein, Nathan
PAGANINI. VIVALDI. PERGOLESI. Others. "Sonatas and short pieces"
(OPK, 2004 c1936, 1937, 1938) with Leopold Mittman (piano)
[A Japanese re-issue of "singles" from the late 1930s. Most of these would have been, on stage, encores or fillers for Milstein to show off his immense talent.]
Morini, Erica
(Westminster, 2001 c1958) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Rodzinski)
[Classical takes on both these concertos. I have never been take crazy about the Tchaikovsky, but Morini's performance had me sitting up.]
Morini, Erica
WIENIAWKSI. MOZART. SARASATE. Others. Live & Studio Recordings 1921-1944. Vol. 1
(Doremi, 2000 c1927, 1928, 1931, 1944) NBC Symphony Orchestra (cond. Ormandy; Louis Kenter, Alice Morini, Charlton Keith, Michael Raucheisen, Max Lanner (piano accompanists)
[The Doremi label produced a series called Legendary Treasures and remastered many early recordings. These, from 1927, 1928 (Sarasate pieces), 1931 (Mozart), and 1944 (Wieniawski) cover Morini's early career. She was born in 1904, was a child prodigy, and played for the Austria-Hungarian Emperor in Vienna when she was six, and was touring Europe in her early teens. She moved to the USA in 1932 and continued her performing career as much as she could. Later, she spoke bitterly about the music world, which would not accept a woman violinist.]
Morini, Erica
TCHAIKOVSKY. MOZART. HANDEL. Others. Live & Studio Recordings 1921-1944. Vol. 2
(Doremi, 2001 c1927, 1928) New York Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Stravinsky); Michael Raucheisen, Ludwig Kenter, Sandor Vas, Alice Morini (piano accompanists)
[The Tchaikovsky violin concerto plus other pieces, all recorded in the 1920s save the concerto. The earlier pieces would have been recorded in Europe, as Morini did not move to the USA until 1932.]
Morini, Erica
BEETHOVEN. Live & Studio Recordings 1921-1944. Vol. 3
(Doremi,2004 c1927, 1944) New York Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Golschmann); N. Schwalb (piano)
[This final disc of Doremi's series contains the Beethoven violin concerto (recorded 1944) and Beethoven's sonata for violin and piano in F major Op. 24 (recorded 1927).]
Morini, Erica
SPOHR. BRUCH. TCHAIKOVSKY. 19th Century Violin Concertos
(Arbiter, 1997) Musica Aeterna Orchestra (cond. Waldman)
[An interesting choice to include Spohr, and all of these seem very much from the same approach to music—decidedly romantic.]
Morini, Erica
(Music & Arts, 2002 c1957, 1952) National Radio Orchestra (cond. Horenstein); Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra (cond. Szell)
[Two unreleased broadcast recordings. One detects one reason Morini was bitter about attitudes to women violinists: that these performances, work to her, were not released, must have been galling.]
Mráček, Jan
DVOŘÁK. Violin concerto, Romance, Mazurek, Four Romantic Pieces
(Onyx, 2009) Czech National Symphony Orchestra (cond. Judd); Lukášs Klánský (piano)
[I started getting a little obsessive about Dvořák's Romance, because of its role in the concert scene in the book, and so came across this, to my great pleasure. Mráček is a young soloist and his touch is very sure and not afraid to be tender, reminding me of Perlman.]
Mullova, Viktoria
BACH. Partitas for Solo Violin
(Philips, 1993)
[Most unusual to play only the Partitas and not the Sonatas, but I entirely approve. The Partitas are one thing, the Sonatas another, and just because they were composed in sonata-partita-sonata order does not mean they are one solid edifice. I think Bach spelled himself, following a sonata with dances in a partita, then back to a sonata, etc. Musically, the Partitas really speak when played together. And by Mullova? Commanding.]
Mullova, Viktoria
MOZART. Partitas for Solo Violin
(Philips, 2002) Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
[Mullova composed the cadenza for the 3rd. Her playing, coming from the Russian school of deep feeling married to technical brilliance, makes these wonderful. The photos that come with the disc emphasise her long, beautiful hands. I had not seen these photos (or her, yet, in concert) while writing this novel, but I felt vindicated when I saw her hands and thought of Airey.]
Mullova, Viktoria
SIBELIUS. TCHAIKOVSKY. Partitas for Solo Violin
(Philips, 2001 c1986) Boston Symphony Orchestra (cond. Ozawa)
[Mullova had been recognised for some years as a young virtuosa, before her defection from the Soviet Union. This recording was made three years after she fled to the West. Mullova speaks of the grim Soviet musical "factory", but there's no doubt that it gave excellent technical training. The spirit of this music is, of course, entirely Mullova.]
Mutter, Anne-Sophie
BRAHMS. SCHUMANN. Violin concerto, Fantasie
(Deutsche Grammophon, 1997) New York Philharmonic (cond. Masur)
[Mutter broke into global fame at a period when no major soloist was female, although of course some excellent and overlooked women were then touring. Her talent, she startling gowns, both drew attention. She acknowledges her fore-sisters, and many female violinists today salute her for paving the way. I have seen her in person, and I love the way she listens to the orchestra when she is not herself playing.]
Neftel, Michaela Paetsch
RAFF. Violin Concertos 1 & 2
(Tudor, 2005) Bamberger Symphony Orchestra (cond. Stadlmair)
[Great fun: romantic, Victorian, lots of meaty stuff for the violin to play, but I am not dismissing it: the playing is far more than good and all involved are committed to a proper interpretation.]
Neveu, Ginette
BRAHMS. Violin Concerto
(Disques Refrain, 1991 c1948) Orchestre National De France (cond. Desormiere)
[This recording came with no information at all. A very rough transfer from the original 78s, but Neveu's power and control come through.]
Neveu, Ginette
BRAHMS. SIBELIUS. Violin Concertos
(EMI, 1987 c1948, 1946) Philharmonia Orchestra (conds. Dobrowen; Süsskind)
[Another recording of the Brahms, supposedly a later version than below, but I think not. The Sibelius is from a little earlier, and my goodness, what drive.]
Neveu, Ginette
(Dutton, 2001 c1946) Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Dobrowen); Jean Neveu (piano)
[Neveu and her brother Jean died in a plane crash in 1949. These recording we re-engineered and re-released. The re-engineering is pretty good, and of course any recording of Neveu is precious.]
Nishizaki, Takato
SAINT-GEORGES. Violin concertos
(Naxos, 2000) Cologne Chamber Orchestra (cond. Müller-Brühl)
[A very nice set of Saint-George's violin concertos, played with spirit. Joseph Boulogne, le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was a swordsman, soldier, conductor and violin virtuoso as well as a composer. He was the son of a mixed marriage and identified as Black.]
Oistrakh, David
BACH. Violin Concertos, Orchestral suite
(Classikon/Deutsche Grammophon, 1987 c1961, 1962) Munich Bach Orchestra (cond. Richter); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Goossens)
[Three violin concertos, one for two violins, which features Oistrakh's son Igor on the second violin and the Orchestral Suite no. 4. There is no doubt that Oistrakh was one of the greatest violinists of his generaton, and some claim he was the greatest violinist of the 20th century.]
Oistrakh, David
(Deutsche Grammophon, 1995 c1951, 1962) Wiener Symphoniker (cond. Oistrakh himself); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Goossens); Staatskapelle Dresden (cond. Konwitschny)
[A mixed bag of concertos, including another copy of the Bach double violin concertos with Igor Oistrakh, Beethoven's two romances (one features in the story). When CDs began to be popular, every label sliced and diced its back catalogue, cheerfully serving up the same recordings in different grab bags.]
Oistrakh, David
BRAHMS. Violin Concertos 1-3
(EMI, 2001 c1972) Cleveland Orchestra (cond. Szell) with Vladimir Yampolsky (piano)
[Oistrakh's technical brilliance and his strong control makes the Brahms concerto seem easy, so nice to have the sonata no. 3 to show his control of colour and nuance.]
Oistrakh, David
MOZART. Violin Concertos 1-3
(EMI, 2001 c1972) Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Oistrakh himself)
[Early concertos, and perhaps early Romantic concertos and orchestral music (say, circa Schubert and Spohr), can do without a conductor, with the soloist doing double duty, as was the practice at the time, and Oistrakh seems to have been keen. This disc does not contain the Mozart featured in my story (no. 4), but no one turns down Oistrakh playing anything. Is he as good at Mozart as with, say, Brahms? Mmm, perhaps he's more meat-and-potatoes than quail, but it's still Oistrakh.]
Oistrakh, David
(EMI, 2004 c1957) with Vladimir Yampolsky (piano)
[Once you see that line-up of composers, you know you are looking at encores and show-stoppers. The Debussy is Clair de lune, transcribed for violin. One understands that every musician wants to play this superb piece, but honestly, it should be left to the piano. Poor Yampolsky!]
Oistrakh, David, and Igor Oistrakh
(Deutsche Grammophon, 2000 c1957, 1958, 1962) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Oistrakh); Gewandhausorchester (cond. Konwitschny); Hans Pischner (cembalo); Wladimir Yampolsky (piano)
[Being the son of one of the greatest violinists must have been tough. Igor, son of David, was clearly a good violinist, and these pieces are all great, but one totally understands why Igor decided that he'd like to be a conductor.]
Oistrakh, David, Mstislav Rostropovich (cello), Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
BEETHOVEN. BRAHMS. Triple Concerto, Double concerto.
(EMI, 1993 c1969, 1970) Berliner Philharmoniker (cond. Karajan), Cleveland Orchestra (cond. Szell)
[I am more partial to the Brahms double concerto for violin and cello than I am Beethoven's triple for violin, cello and piano, which I find irritating, but wow, what a line-up.]
Oistrakh, Igor
(Revelation, 1996) Grand Symphony Orchestra of Radio and television (cond. Rozhdestvensky)
[Igor's father was one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century, and Igor had a soloist career for a while, before moving to conducting. I had always assumed that he knew he would never be as great as his father, so why compete? And yet the Glazunov here has the most beautiful articulation and delicacy in the slow movement. I hope Igor was not trying to get out from under, but rather so strongly drawn to conducting that he chose to abandon his first talent. Further note: he received died, on 2 September 2021. A long and useful life spent in music.]
Oprean, Adelina
FIORILLO. VIOTTI. "Two Romantic Violin Concertos"
(Helios, 2000 c1986) European Union Chamber Orchestra (cond. Faerber)
[So great to have a concerto by Fiorillo! He lived at the time of Mozart and Beethoven; this period seemed to produce a good-to-great composer every two minutes. Viotti lived pretty much exactly the dates of Fiorillo's life. Oprean plays with the exact delicate precision needed.]
Osostowicz, Krysia
BRAHMS. The Three Violin Sonatas
(Helios, 2001 c1991) with Susan Tomes (piano)
[A truly great performance by these two players. Fresh, beautifully paced, with a continual feeling that they are talking to each other through music—as indeed they are. This and the Fauré below recommended by me!]
Osostowicz, Krysia
FAURÉ. Violin Sonatas
(Helios, 1999 c1987) with Susan Tomes (piano)
[Truly splendid. I really do think this is an outstanding recording. The playing is everything you could want. Cannot praise this too highly.]
Perlman, Itzhak
BACH. Sonatas and Partitas
(EMI, 2005 c1988)
[I confess that I avoided getting Perlman playing these because what I had by him were so thoroughly confident and controlled that I didn't want to hear Bach mastered. But I have slowly warmed to them.]
Perlman, Itzhak
DVOŘÁK. Violin concerto and Romance
(EMI, 1987 c1975) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Barenboim)
[As much as I love both these Dvořák pieces, they need a firm hand to keep them from being a little shapeless, especially the concerto. Perlman gives exactly the control and drive needed. The Romance is especially well done, with Barenboim doing his side of the shaping of tempo. My favourite version, and the one I "hear" in the final concert in the book.]
Perlman, Itzhak
KORNGOLD. GOLDMARK. SINDING. Violin concertos, Suite in A minor
(EMI, 2008 c1978, 1980, 1981) Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (cond. Previn)
[Korngold and Goldmark are seen as "lesser" concertos and so get put together. I am not a huge fan of Korngold. And I just don't see the point of the Sinding. It's...OK. The Goldmark, of course, I love; it's why it is in the story (or rather, having chosen it for the story, I played it a zillion times and grew to love it). Perlman plays the usual abbreviated version of the Goldmark.]
Perlman, Itzhak
PAGANINI. 24 Caprices for solo violin
(EMI, 2000 c1972)
[The reverse of "what do you give to a man who has everything." Perlman has so thoroughly recorded the violin I guess he felt he should fill the corners. I can't say these are fun to listen to, but one can hear how they must be brilliant training exercises. Perlman plays these a little more slowly than others do, sometimes I think too slowly. The no. 10, which features in my story, should I think be faster and more fiery.]
Perlman, Itzhak
(RCA, 2004 c1966, 1967) Boston Symphony Orchestra (cond. Salvatore)
[Perlman kicked off his career with these two recordings and from the first moment the word "assured" was used of him. Anyone who can play with his command has every reason to be assured. But even he can't rescue Tchaikovsky's first movement for me. Perlman is of the big confident American style of playing, which is as legitimate as the Romantic Russian style of playing, and a welcome change sometimes.]
Perlman, Itzhak
VIEUXTEMPS. RAVEL. SAINT-SAËNS. Violin concertos, pieces
(EMI, 1995 c1974, 1978, 1984, 1987) Orchestre de Paris (conds. Barenboim, Martinon)
[I like Perlman for recording Vieuxtemps, who is not counted among the glittering stars of the violin concerto line-up, but who is extremely agreeable to listen to. The record company rounds out the disk with Ravel's perennial Tzigane and Saint-Saëns equally perennial Havanaise .]
Perlman, Itzhak
(EMI, 2006) with Samuel Sanders (piano)
[A big double-decker of a chocolate box of not just the usual encore pieces soloists offer their adoring audiences, but some lesser-known pieces (e.g. by Paderewski, Heuberger) and including Londonderry Air.]
Perrone, Paolo
SCARLATTI. Violin Sonatas
(Brilliant, 2013) Capella Tiberina, with Alexandra Nigito (harpsichord)
[This was sheer self-indulgence. I couldn't justify it for the story, but I like Scarlatti and hey gosh, I had to listen as widely as I could to violin music, right? Right?]
Plantier, David
WESTHOFF. Sonatas pour Violon & Basse continue
(Harmonia Mundi, 2011) with Les Plaisirs du Parnasse
[Westhoff was a generation older than Johann Sebastian Bach and inspired Bach's own partitas and sonatas for solo violin. His music is definitely worthy of inspiring Bach, and played with real verve here.]
Podger, Rachel
TELEMANN. Fantasies for Violin Solo
(Channel Classics, 2002)
[Podger plays the baroque violin, and so it and the gut strings give a different sound from the Dubeau and Grumiaux elsewhere in this list. Podger is a driving force in baroque music and plays with baroque ensembles as well as in solo performances. She has a very dancing approach, in that she seems to have a lyrical spirit.]
Poppen, Christoph and Isabelle Faust
BACH. Violin concertos
(Musical Heritage, 1999) Bach-Collegium Stuttgart (cond. Rilling)
[Poppen plays two of the three, Faust the last. Lovely playing by both.]
Powell, Maud
BACH. GLUCK. BERIOT. BRUCH. SARASATE. ELGAR. Others. "The Complete Recordings 1904-1917, vol. 1"
(Naxos, 2001) with George Falkenstein (piano)
[Huge praise to Naxos for this well-engineered collection of very early recordings. Maud Powell was born in Illinois in 1867, was a prodigy, and finished her musical education in Germany. She began her professional career at 18. The notes that accompany this first disc says: "The intelligence, energy, and vigour in her playing reflected her American spirit and the brilliance, optimism and enthusiasm with which she lived." What a testament to a wonderful and important life!]
Powell, Maud
BACH. HANDEL. MOZART. BOCCHERINI. VIEUXTEMPS. SCHUBERT. Others. "The Complete Recordings 1904-1917, vol. 2"
(Naxos, 2001) with George Falkenstein (piano)
[Powell played with all the great European and American orchestras of her time. She championed classical music and was its ambassador. "With her incandescent mind and luminous bow," say the notes to this disc, "Powell inspired people across the nation to form orchestras, to host recital series, to engage in chamber music and to teach their youngsters to play musical instruments." I have always imagined Powell meeting with Thomas Howison and his sister Ruth and convincing them to fund a music conservatory.]
Powell, Maud
TENAGLIA. LECLAIR. HANDEL. MENDELSSOHN. SIBELIUS. PUCCINI. Others. "The Complete Recordings 1904-1917, vol. 3"
(Naxos, 2002) with George Falkenstein (piano)
[Naxos, with the Maud Powell Society (go and donate!), should be proud of this set of discs. That the United States had the intelligence to be swept up by Powell's "commanding bow and magnetic personality" (disc notes) into developing a new musical culture is something the nation can take pride in. Powell used recordings (and here they are!) to spread her message, and in 1917 played, in Carnegie Hall, a programme assembled from the public's votes on which of her recorded pieces she should play. For 1917? Mind-blowingly cool.]
Powell, Maud
BOCCHERINI. MOZART. SCHUBERT. DRDLA. WIENIAWSKI. Others. "The Complete Recordings 1904-1917, vol. 4"
(Naxos, 2004) with George Falkenstein (piano)
[Powell is quoted in the notes with the disc "I have ever sought artistic truth according to the light that has been given me. Whatever conviction carries with my work is because it has been developed and is myself." What a woman! Powell died in 1920, aged 52. A cruel loss, and then she began to be lost to memory. But this set of discs, and Rachel Barton-Pine's superb tribute (see above), are only some of the honours now quite rightly being showered upon Powell's memory and legacy. The revised two-volume biography of Maud Powell is now available on Amazon [2022]. (I am not connected with this, just recommending.)]
Rabin, Michael
PAGANINI. Caprices Op. 1
(EMI, 2001 c1958)
[Rabin was an American virtuoso who débuted in Carnegie Hall in 1950, and was seen as the new star in the sky. He died at 35, from an unnamed neurological disease. His timing on these Paganini pieces is, like most modern players of them, quite slow, sacrificing technical fireworks to bring out the nuances of these pieces, which have plenty to bring out.]
Ricci, Ruggiero
GOLDMARK. Violin concerto
(Vox Allegretto, 1994 c1970, 1977) Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg (cond. Froment)
[When I first heard Ricci's interpretation, I thought it too harsh, as I initially thought all his playing too harsh, but it has worked its way into my heart. Disc also includes The Rustic Wedding by another orchestra and conductor.]
Ricci, Ruggiero
(Belart, 1997 c1958, 1960) London Symphony Orchestra (cond. Gamba)
[Ricci does not seem like a natural player of Mendelssohn, that sweet composer, given his often harsh sound, but there's no denying that he has his own take on things. He suits the Bruch well, plus the fireworks of the Saint-Saëns. Not that Ricci cannot be delicate or nuanced, but he is a player who IMHO likes to dominate.]
Ricci, Ruggiero
WIENIAWSKI. GLAZUNOV. Violin pieces; concerto.
(Regis, 2006 c1980, 1975) Philharmonia Hungaria (cond. Peters)
[The Wienawski pieces and the Glazunov concerto were recorded late in Ricci's life, and I can detect here and there a weakening, but mostly I am blasted by a master's power. The music here really suits his style of playing.]
Rimonda, Guido
VIOTTI. BOCCHERINI. MOZART. Cello works, sinfonia
(Bongiovanni, 200?) Orchestra Camerata Ducale (cond. Guido Rimonda himself) with Franco Maggio Ormezowski (cello)
[This disc really focuses on the Viotti and Boccherini cello pieces, but I saw that it had Mozart's Sinfonia no. 1 and Six German dances, so picked it up. Nice playing by a Viotti expert.]
Rosand, Aaron
BRAHMS. JOACHIM. Violin sonatas, Hungarian Dances, Romance
(Musical Concepts, 1991, 1993) with Hugh Sung (piano)
[Brahms' three violin sonatas, beautifully played, plus 21 Hungarian dances transcribed for violin and piano (the great 19th century violinist Joseph Joachim, a friend of Brahms, did the transcriptions), plus Joachim's own Romance.]
Rosé, Arnold
(Arbiter, 2006 c1909-1936) solo, with quartet, orchestra
[Rosé was literally the first violin, of the Vienna Philharmonic, for half a century. He epitomised the older Viennese style, and listening to him is taking a journey to a distant culture.]
Rybar, Peter
GOLDMARK. SUK. Violin concerto, Fantasy.
(Doron, 1994) Vienna Symphony Orchestra (cond. Swoboda); Kol Israël Symphony Orchestra (cond. Rodan)
[On my unending pursuit of every recording of Goldmark that exists, I bought this. The accompanying notes relegate Goldmark to "the second or utilitarian class of Bruch, Glazounov and Dvorak, rather than the higher flight of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms." Yikes! The list often changes; I have read that Mendelssohn and Bruch are second-rankers with Dvořák, that Mozart's violin concertos are "youthful" and so on. I cannot claim Goldmark as the first among diamonds (to me, that is the Brahms), but I see no reason to dismiss works with many beauties and strengths. Given that Rybar is not in the first rank of violin soloists, the notes were a tad presumptuous.]
Sammons, Albert
DELIUS. RUBBRA. Violin sonatas
(Dutton, 2006 c1924, 1946) solo, with quartet, orchestra
[Sammons is not a well-known name now but in the first half of the 20th century he was Britain's leading violinist, and a champion of the British composer Delius. He had little formal training as a child and young man, being largely self-taught. He went on to become a soloist and the leader of a quartet.]
Schiff, Zina
BLOCH. Violin Concerto, Baal Shem, Suite Hébraïque
(Naxos, 2006) Royal National Scottish Orchestra (cond. Serebrier)
Beautifully clear and moving performance by the orchestra and a wonderful, powerful, tender, sensitive interpretation by Schiff. I find her Nigun from the Baal Shem suite to be pretty much the best I've heard. Absolutely Airey level—high praise from me! Hear the Nigun on YouTube.]
Schmid, Benjamin
GOLDMARK. BRAHMS. Violin concerto, double concerto
(Oehms, 2004) Witold Lutoslawski Philharmonic Wroclaw (cond. Raiskin) with Ramon jaffé (cello)
[The Goldmark was clearly why I bought this disc. Schmid, as with all modern violinists, has what to me is a heavy, intrusive vibrato, but that is the current style. The first movement is sweet, the slow movement a little gritty, yet incredibly delicate and almost too quiet, but it works, and the last movement, which is extremely challenging for the soloist, he handles with brio when needed and, again, sweetness where that should be. But  he uses the chopped version of the last movement that Gimpel uses also; did he copy it? The essential pause is gone. And such a shame, because otherwise this would have been one of my favourite versions. Even this is not as bad as Kocsis (see above).]
Schmid, Benjamin
REGER. Violin Concerto and Chaconne
(Ondine, 2012) Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Lintu)
[Very clean playing, keeping down the temptation to go full-on romantic. The Chaconne for solo violin is interesting, but perhaps will never command emotions.]
Schmitt, Hélène
ALBERTINI. Sonates our violon & basse continue
(Alpha, 2002) with Jörg-Andreas Bötticher (clavecin & orgue), Karl-Ernst Schröder (théorbe), David Sinclair (violone)
[Albertini (1644-1685) would have been unknown to most musicians at the time of my story, but this recording appealed to me and I listened to it as I revised the many drafts of the story, so I include it here. The disc includes sonatas for the other instruments, so everyone gets a turn in the limelight.]
Schmitt, Hélène
SCHMELZER. Violin Sonatas
(Alpha, 2007) with Jan Krigovsky (violone), Stephan Rath (theorbo), Jörg-Andreas Bötticher (claviorganum)
[Schmelzer was a late discovery by me, and indeed, his written music was only discovered recently, so I wasn't a laggard. I fell in love. The Ciaccona in A Major, which is really a sonata but sounds like a chaconne, spoke to my heart. To me, it is the theme song, not of Cecilia's and Airey's story in the book (that would be Dvořák's Romance, but of their entire lives. Hear it on YouTube.]
Schneider, Alexander, and Joseph Szigeti
(IDIS, 1994 c1957, 1951, 1949) with Mieczyslaw Horszowski (piano)
[This is a tribute record for the pianist, Horszowski, but I was on the look-out for violinists I lacked, so I bought it for the Schneider, who plays the Schubert Sonata in A minor. Szigeti plays the two Beethoven sonatas, no. 10, op. 96 and no 7, op. 30 no. 2, the latter of which is the Beethoven sonata featured in the story.]
Schneiderham, Wolfgang
BEETHOVEN. MOZART. Violin concertos
(Deutche Grammophon, 1997) Berliner Philharmoniker (conds. Jochum and Schneiderham himself)
[Schneiderham was born in Vienna, played in Vienna, was a soloist as well as a concertmaster in Vienna, and the notes that come with the disc glide silently over the fact that he was a Nazi. I did not know this when I bought the CD. He plays well with what strikes me as a completely Viennese approach.]
Serban-Ioanid, Constantin
BERLIOZ. Rêverie et caprice pour violon et orchestre
(Avie, 2018) Orchestre Philarmonique des Pays de la Loire (cond. Soustrot)
[I desperately wanted to include this delightful piece, one of the few things I like by Berlioz, into Airey's final concert, but no could do. However, I listened to it often while writing the story, and wanted to include it here as a treasured friend. This particular version is my favourite. How lucky I am to be able to share it with you! Rêverie et caprice by Berlioz (YouTube).]
Shaham, Hagai
BLOCH. BEN-HAÏM. Suites and pieces
(Hyperion, 2007 c2004, 2006) with Arnon Erez (piano)
[Bloch is best-known (at least to me) for his Baal Shem Suite and for other works based on Jewish music styles, and including many actual Chassidic melodies. Ben-Haïm also draws on the Jewish tradition. Bloch's Nigum from the Baal Shem Suite was a popular encore.]
Sitkovetsky, Dmitry
BRAHMS. Violin sonatas
(Novalis, pre-2008) with Bella Davidovitch (piano)
[I cannot lie: I bought this disc for the Hungarian Dances played by Radio-Symphony-Orchestra Stuttgart (cond. Prêtre), but later, when I was playing violin almost exclusively, I realised that I also had, on the second disc, Brahms' violin sonatas by Sitkovetsky. Win!]
Sitkovetsky, Dmitry
MOZART. Violin concertos 4 & 5
(Novalis, 1986) English Chamber Orchestra (cond. Sitkovetsky himself)
[As with some other violinists in this list, Sitkovetsky leads the orchestra, as soloists in Mozart's time would have done, indeed, as Mozart would have done. Very good performance.]
Staryk, Steven
(Centaur, 2005 c1963 1969)
[These 34 caprices, études, and studies give a fantastic selection of exercises that violin students were given from the late 18th century. It opened Kreutzer, Fiorillo and the others to me, and my further research made me understand how these short pieces really taught the player specific techniques, from double-stops to staccato. Staryk was a violin master praised by the virtuosi of his time (Szerying, Oistrakh and others) and yet hardly known to the public outside his native Canada, or in it. He was evidently a great concertmaster and teacher.]
Steinbacher, Arabella
DVOŘÁK. SZYMANOWSKI. Violin Concertos. Romance in F Minor
(Pentatone, 2009) Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin (cond. Janowski)
[This disc had one performance I particularly wanted, the Szymanowski and the Dvořák Romance, which is featured in the novel. The Dvořák Concerto is always one of my must-haves. And with Steinbacher, one of the analytical violinists I like so much (she really digs into the score) this single disc is a treasure.]
Steinhardt, Arnold
BACH. Partita No. 2
(Houghton Mifflin, 1966, 2006)
[Steinhardt was the first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, which was a major presence in the second half of the 20th century. I realised that I needed to know the violin from a player's point of view, if i was to be able to understand Airey, so got his book Violin Dreams, about his journey to and through music. The book came with a CD of Bach's Partita no. 2, one he recorded in 1966, one in 2006. I knew Bach, I had Bach's various organ works and Brandenburg and so on, but not any violin. I played this and played this disc, just to get into violin, but mostly in the background. I wasn't really listening so much as absorbing. And then one day I stopped what I was doing and listened to the Chaconne, which had alienated me a little, really listened, and was captured. Heard it, understood its greatness. I guess I had needed to make myself ready for it. Having heard, I got really serious about music. I studied. And it was Steinhardt who opened my ears. I owe him a lifetime of gratitude.]
Steinhardt, Arnold
SCHUBERT. "Complete Works for Violin & Piano"
(Newport, 2006) with Seymour Lipkin (piano)
[As I love Schubert (except the vocal works, because yes, I am a barbarian) I was thrilled to get this album. Steinhardt writes in his autobiography (see my Bibliography page) of choosing to make playing in a quartet his life's work, and thank goodness, because I think music played with others is, as Dr Neihoff says in the story, the highest calling, and the Guarneri Quartet was truly great. Here is just another way to make music with another musician, and this disc is proof of why Steinhardt was so respected as a violinist. Lovely colour and thought.]
Stern, Isaac
BACH. HANDEL. TARTINI. Sonatas for violin
(Sony, 1996) with Alexander Zakin (piano)
[Bach, both J.S. and C.P.E., but my main focus was Tartini's violin sonata in G minor, the Didone Abbandonata, which I also have by Morini and Oistrakh, but which I wanted to hear by an American. I toyed with having this as one of the pieces Airey plays, as I know she knows it, but decided against at the last minute for reasons.]
Stern, Isaac
BEETHOVEN. Violin concerto
(Sony, 1998 c1959) New York Philharmonic (cond. Bernstein)
[The disc is a collection of different Beethoven pieces conducted by Bernstein, and Stern is only one item. Having read Stern's autobiography, I am warm to him, and his playing has that muscular tenderness that all American virtuosi seem to have developed. One hears it also in Perlman. Male American violinists? That might be too sweeping a statement.]
Stern, Isaac
BRAHMS. Violin sonatas
(Sony, 1996 c1953, 1973) with Alexander Zakin (piano)
[The notes to this disc include a tribute by Yo-Yo Ma to Stern's dedication to music and to encouraging young musicians, such as Yo-Yo Ma himself. You can hear the passionate dedication here.]
Stern, Isaac
MENDELSSOHN. BEETHOVEN. Violin concerto, two romances
(CBS Records, 1981) Boston Symphony Orchestra (cond. Ozawa)
[Mendelssohn is not a technical challenge, but an emotional challenge: how to keep things limpid and yet not vapid. Mendelssohn was never a romantic composer, although Romantic in approach. We hear how Stern keeps everything fresh. The two Beethoven romances are a welcome addition to the disc.]
Stern, Isaac
(Sony, 1995 c1959, 1970) Philadelphia Orchestra (cond. Ormandy)
[A master plays. We listen.]
Stern, Isaac, Albert Spalding
DVOŘÁK. CHAUSSON. Violin concerto, Poeme
(IDIS, 1995 c1950, 1951) New York Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Mitropoulos)
[Another disc celebrating the work of the conductor, so two violinists here. Hard to get much from Albert Spaulding, which is why I snapped up this disc. But Stern playing Dvořák's concerto is the real draw. He keeps a firm hand on the reins.]
Strauss, Axel
RODE. 24 Caprices for Solo Violin
(Naxos, 2008)
[Rode was a well-known virtuoso of his time. His main teacher was Viotti. He travelled all over Europe, to Russia, and premiered Beethoven's violin concerto. Therefore his 24 teaching caprices "in the form of études" (1815) were in demand. Paganini's 24 caprices came out later and were technically harder, but I find Rode's much more pleasant to listen to. These and the Kreutzer exercises are seen as the core teaching materials even today. I contacted Strauss, as at the time he appeared to be about to record other sets of exercises, e.g, the Fiorello, but a quick search shows that he is recording other things, as well as teaching (in Montreal, fun fact, given when my story ends).]
Suk, Josef
(Supraphon, 2009, c1978, 1988) Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Neumann); Prague Symphony Orchestra (cond. Smetáček)
[All the pieces here are either called Romance or are by their nature. I am really fond of Berlioz's Rèverie et caprice, included here. Suk has a slow, gentle touch with it, and definitely gives us a romantic interpretation of all.]
Suk, Josef
(Supraphon, 2004 c1963, 1966, 1972) with
[Josef Suk was the son of Josef Suk the composer, who was Dvořák's son-in-law, so Czechs all, which is why I think these are particularly attractively played. Suk knows whereof he plays. His version of the third section of his father's Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano Op. 75, the Allegro appassionato is the piece Dr Neihoff teaches Airey and he (and she) plays it as Suk does because, to me, it is the best version I have heard.]
Szerying, Henryk
BACH. Sonatas & Partitas for Violin
(Deutsche Grammophon, 1996 c1967)
[Szeryng was a late starter, in career terms, not getting traction when he was young and playing in cafés (as did Kreisler) until discovered. I liked the fact that he played whatever violin music he could.]
Szerying, Henryk
BACH Suites and Concertos
(Philips, 1995 c1976, 1978) Academy of St Martin in the Field (cond. Marriner) with Maurice Hasson (violin), William Bennett (flute)
[Szeryng, once back on track with his concert career, showed why he was worth re-discovering.]
Szigeti, Joseph
BACH. 6 Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Alone
(Vanguard Classics, 2004 c1955, 1956)
[Recorded late in his life, when Szigeti had lost a fair bit of muscular control (and honestly, but as he has been revered, he was never a hugely strong player), these recordings are recommended by experts for Szigeti's deeply thoughtful interpretation. I admit to not being able to sit through them very often.]
Szigeti, Joseph
BEETHOVEN. MOZART. Violin concertos
(Naxos, 2001 c1934, 1932) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Beecham); British Symphony Orchestra (cond. Walter)
[The Mozart is the one I use in my story, and was played only three years after the story begins, so I wanted this, and to have Szigeti in his stronger, younger years. The Beethoven, well, that was a nice addendum.]
Szigeti, Joseph
MENDELSSOHN. BRAHMS. Violin concertos
(OPK, 2002 c1933, 1928) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Beecham); Halle Orchestra (cond. Harty)
[This disc was produced in Japan and the English on it is minimal, but the Brahms, I understand, is Szigeti's earliest concerto recording. The sound is rough; on Cecilia's Grafonola, it would have sounded much better.]
Szigeti, Joseph and Nathan Milstein
(OPK, 1994 c1945, 1947) New York Philharmonic (cond. Walter); Halle Orchestra (cond. Harty)
[A disc issued to feature the conductor, Bruno Walter, so an interesting side-by-side of two great masters, Szigeti on Beethoven (again), and Milstein on Mendelssohn.]
Tetzlaff, Christian
BACH. Sonatas & Paritas
(Virgin Classics, 2008 c1994)
[Christian Tetzlaff has had a really interesting career. He began impressively doing all the big-ticket pieces one would expect, and then has gone in for more shared limelight, that is, duets, chamber music, and I like the way his thinking has evolved. This was his first "take" on Bach's solo masterpieces, and if I had only these, I would be happy. But see below.]
Tetzlaff, Christian
BACH. Sonatas & Paritas
(Ondine, 2017)
[Tetzlaff comes to Bach again, and he says himself that he discarded many of the conventional ways of playing, becoming freer, less controlling and "virtuosic," but to me all this proves is what a master he is. I had a shock when I first listened. Some of the loudness variations seem a bit arbitrary, and there's the occasional ugliness that I cannot see is in any way justified, but he's lived with the manuscripts and i have not. Just saying that I prefer his earlier take on solo Bach.]
Tetzlaff, Christian
BRAHMS. Sonatas for piano and keyboard
(EMI, 2003) with Lars Vogt (piano)
[I knew the pianist from other recordings I had, so it prompted me to pick up this disc, my first Tetzlaff, and I thanked myself. These are live recordings from the Heimback Chamber Music Festival, and live recordings, with all the audience flaws, do have something special, perhaps the knowledge of a shared listening.]
Tetzlaff, Christian
DVOŘÁK. LALO. Violin concerto, Symphonie Espagnole
(Virgin Classics, 1994) Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Pešek)
[Early Tetzlaff, and a delightful Dvořák, as Dvořák (IMHO) should be. The Lalo, beyond the opening I will always dislike (what was Lalo thinking??), is the charming stuff beyond. I have had the pleasure of hearing Tetzlaff in concert.]
Tetzlaff, Christian
DVOŘÁK. SUK. Violin concerto, Romance, Fantasy
(Ondine, 2016) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Storgårds)
[Later Tetzlaff, and a revisit to Dvořák, clearly approaching the very hard violin part with new thoughts. Dvořák's Romance is in the story, and is a piece I love. Suk, Dvořák's student and son-in-law, wrote a few pieces only for violin, but he does them well. And so, of course, does Tetzlaff.]
Tetzlaff, Christian
HAYDN. MOZART. Violin concertos
(Virgin Classics, 1991) Northern Sinfonia (cond. Schiff)
[Early Tetzlaff again, and a choice that, in hindsight, showed us that Tetzlaff was going to be surprising, as Haydn is not someone you play when you want to strut your stuff; these require a different approach. He gives us also Mozart's Rondo in C major, nice. The CD set came also with Haydn's cello concertos played by Truls Mørk. Bonus!]
Tetzlaff, Christian
MOZART. Violin concertos 2 & 4
(Virgin Classics, 1996) Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie (cond. Tetzlaff himself)
[Another early indication that Tetzlaff was forging a path that would always be worth watching, as he directs and solos in two concertos (the no. 4 being in my story) plus the Rondo in C major, the Rondo in B flat major, and the Adagio in E major, so plenty of treats.]
Thibaud, Jacques
SAINT-SAËNS. FALLA. GRANADOS. VON PARADIES. MOZART. LALO. Others. "The complete solo recordings 1929-1936"
(APR, 1994) various orchestras and accompanists
[The Russian School, in the first half of the 20th century, had many representatives, from Heifetz to Milstein to Zimbalist; the French School had Thibault, and I think he thoroughly defends his corner. I love his insight, his calm intensity, his elegance that comes from power. His accompanist said of him: "He never forced an issue. There were no temperamental exaggerations. It was the loveliest quality imaginable—velvety, warm and pure."]
Tognetti, Richard
DVOŘÁK. Violin concerto
(BIS, 2010) Nordic Chamber Orchestra (cond. Lindberg)
[Tognetti is an Australian virtuoso whom I admire and seek out. His handling of the Dvořák is exceedingly clear and fine. This concerto, so spirited and beautiful, does need a firm guiding hand. The disc also includes Dvořák's Legends, a piece I really like.]
Toso, Piero
TARTINI. Violin Concertos
(Apex, 2003 c1971) I Solisti Veneti (cond. Scimone)
[A top favourite of mine, so much so that the concerto in B minor, D125, is exactly the one I have put in the final concert. Played exactly as here. Yes, I love it.]
Tretiakov, Viktor
(Brilliant, 1965-1990) various orchestras and accompanists
[I had never heard of Tretiakov when I picked up this ten-disc set. The attraction was some unknown composers, and the fact that I could get so many violin concertos in one box. He has the concerto not only by Tchaikovsky, but one by Boris Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich's concertos 1 and 2, and so on. Tretiakov was born just after WWII and seems to have been more famous in the Soviet Union and Russia than as a worldwide soloist.]
Tsu, Vera
KORNGOLD. GOLDMARK. Violin Concertos
(Naxos, 1995) Razumovsky Sinfonia (cond. Yu Long)
[I am not the only one who enjoys this recording of the Goldmark (I bought the disc for it), as I have seen many people comment warmly. I find Tsu's sensitive performance very moving. The Andante is I think the slowest ever recorded, and it works. It should not be brisk; yes, I know it is "andante" and here almost "largo," but I've heard it pretty close to "allegro ma non tanto," to which, I say "hello?"]
Udagawa, Hideko
RACHMANINOV. Romantic Novelties
(Signum Records, 2009) with Konstantin Lifshitz (piano)
[Rachmaninov did not write for the violin (save for two here, one edited), so the rest of the pieces here are transcriptions, mostly by Heifetz. A bit of a curiosity, but rather pleasant.]
Udagawa, Hideko
(Signum Records, 2010) Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Brabbins)
[A very generous and supportive orchestra accompanies Udagawa through these pieces. I had the opportunity to listen with pleasure to Udagawa in person in another concert. My copy of this DVD is signed.]
van Dael, Lucy
UCCELLINI. "La Hortensia Virtuosa"
(Aeolus, 2004) with Bob van Asperen (harpsichord & organ), Toyhiko Satoh (liuto-attiorbato), Jaap ter Linden (cello)
[Uccellini would have been known at the time of the story only by the most dedicated musical historians. He has risen to public knowledge and performance thanks to the recent surge in popularity of baroque music. He died in 1680, making him a very early master.]
Vengerov, Maxim
BRAHMS. Violin concerto and Sonata no. 3
(Teldec, 1999) Chicago Symphony Orchestra (cond. Barenboim)
[Brahms is one of the peaks of the violin repertoire, and not all can climb it successfully. Vengerov, one of the great living masters, is clearly at home up in the heights. The cadenza is his own.]
Vengerov, Maxim
BRUCH. MENDELSSOHN. Violin concertos
(Teldec, 1993) Gewandhausorchestrer Leipzig (cond. Masur)
[Vengerov is of the Russian school, so lots of feeling, which is right for these two concertos. I note his discs always mention the Stradivarius he is playing. I suspect it is a condition of the loan. Big companies own these violins now (in many cases). It is a strange world when Louis Vuitton/Moët Hennessy own violins. Time for players to let go of the mystique and to get newly made violins from modern masters.]
Vengerov, Maxim
(Teldec, 1995) Berliner Philharmoniker (cond. Abbado)
[Vengerov was really setting the world on fire in the 1990s. I do think Russian violinists play Tchaikovsky and Glazunov superbly. Perhaps these are what they play from their first little concerts at music school, or perhaps it's pride, or perhaps it's the Russian soul.]
Vengerov, Maxim
(EMI, 2001) Virtuosi (ensemble) with Vag Papian (piano)
[Yes, a line-up of the usual encores, which Vengerov, in the notes that come with the disc, says he enjoys playing. I would, too, if I could play this well. The Bazzini has never been on my favourites list, but to me he excels at it. Difficult, fast, but should be more than a show-off piece. The arrangements are good. But I will never like Schubert's Ava Maria not ever, in any shape or form or arrangement. And yet I love Schubert. Franz! Just No!]
Wenk-Wolff, Ragin
RÖNTGEN. CHAUSSON. HUBAY. "Romantic Concertos"
(Centaur, 2005) Dvořák Symphony Orchestra (cond. Bogunia), Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (cond. Burkh)
[Wenk-Wolff, who on this disc goes by the performing name "Ragin," gives a credible interpretation of Röntgen and the Hubay, and the Chausson is very romantic indeed. I wouldn't say this disc is a top fave, but it's by no means to be dismissed. Played by all with 100% brio.]
Wicks, Camilla
(Music and Arts, 2005 c1953, 1950) Philharmonica Symphony Orchestra (cond. Walter); Standard Symphony Orchestra (cond. Barnett)
[Wicks was a child prodigy, playing Mozart, Bruch and Paganini on stage before the age of ten. She toured and recorded up to her marriage in 1951, when she retired to raise five children, and sometimes to teach. Later in life she began playing and recording again in a lesser way. I find her playing wonderful and personally regret her life choices. This disc collects the last recordings she made, with a live radio audience and announcer.]
Wicks, Camilla
BRUSTAD. WALTON. Violin Concertos
(Simax, 2000) Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (conds. Blomstedt, Simonov)
[When she resumed her career after raising her children, Wicks championed Scandinavian composers. She herself was Norwegian by background.]
Wicks, Camilla
SIBELIUS, VALEN, BLOCH, SHOSTAKOVICH. Others. Violin Concertos and Pieces
(Biddulph, 2006 c1951) Oslo Radio Symphony (cond. Ehrling)
[Wicks played again the Sibelius concerto in her later years, so worth listening to compared with the one from the early 1950s. This disc includes the very much lesser known (with reason) Valen concerto and tracks from an unissued recording made in 1951.]
Widmann, Carolin
SCHUMANN. "The Violin Sonatas"
(ECM, 2008) with Dénes Várjon (piano)
[Very well performed set of these violin sonatas, considered and nuanced.]
Zack, Herwig
BACH. HINDEMITH. STAHMER. REGER. "Made in Germany works for solo violin"
(Avie, 2013)
[I am not a huge fan of Hindemith, but I wanted to hear the sort of music Airey would play throughout her career, so I got this. I like the Reger Chaconne, and of course there is J. S. Bach here, too. Zack is a university teacher in the USA and it would be nice to see him on stage at some point. Very clear and elegant playing.]
Zehetmair, Thomas
BACH. Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin
(Apex, 1999) Chicago Symphony Orchestra (cond. Barenboim)
Really interesting take on these masterworks. His tempi and volume changes are not as extreme as others (Tetzlaff's second recording and Mullova's, for instance), but I find them refreshing, like being on a slightly choppy lake. His roughness is appealing. But I don't like that he doesn't do all the repeats.]
Zehetmair, Thomas
BRAHMS. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
(The Sage/Avie, 2007) Northern Sinfonia (cond. Zehetmair)
[A sweet interpretation, especially the first movement. The orchestra is powerful but not muscular in the last movement. Zehetmair plays his own cadenza in the first movement, which I very much enjoyed. He plays a score that he had edited, and I am not 100% sure I like the changes, but they are small and don't fundamentally reduce the music.]
Zehetmair, Thomas
DVOŘÁK. Violin concerto and Romance
(Teldec, 1991) Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Inbal)
[The Romance always draws me, as I was thinking about how Airey would play it. The concerto is always a treat. Such brio! Shout-out for the brass in the Romance; it's not always drawn forward. Thumbs up, conductor Inbal.]
Zehetmair, Thomas
MOZART. Violin concertos
(Apex, 1991, 1992) Philharmonia Orchestra (cond. Zehetmair himself)
[Truly charming interpretations of these concertos. Zehetmair has composed all the cadenzas, plus fermata and initials, so a true "Mozartian" approach, and I think it is great. Music then was written for the soloist to add his own insights. Includes the disputed concerto in D major, K271a. By Mozart? Played by him? Studied by him?]
Znaider, Nikolaj
(RCA, 2005) Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Mehta)
[Znaider hit the scene in the late 1990s and his powerhouse career through the first two decades of this century was impressive. I see he is branching out into conducting and teaching. A lovely performer with a clean, clear tone.]
Znaider, Nikolaj
BRAHMS. Complete works for Violin and piano
(RCA, 2005) with Yefim Bronfman (piano)
[These violin-piano pieces are the three sonatas plus the scherzo from the Sonata "F-A-E". A young Znaider with the legendary pianist/accompanist Bronfman gives us the best of fresh and intelligent with feeling and seasoned wisdom. A favourite disc of mine. I was lucky enough to see Znaider live, playing the Brahms violin concerto.]
Znaider, Nikolaj
NIELSEN. BRUCH. Violin concertos
(EMI, 2000) London Philharmonic Orchestra (cond. Foster)
[Nielsen's violin concerto is a surprise, as it's seldom performed, but Znaider was born and raised in Copenhagen, so of course it all makes sense. The Bruch is very much in the same spirit as the Nielsen, so a nice combination.]
Znaider, Nikolaj
ELGAR. Violin concerto
(RCA, 2009) Staatskapelle Dresden (cond. Davis)
[The Elgar violin concerto and nothing else. This release was much covered in the UK papers when it came out, with much focus on the back-story of the slow movement (which is so moving and beautiful), but I don't see how any back-story is needed. Just listen to this great recording and let the emotions rip.]
Znaider, Nikolaj
PROKOFIEV. GLAZUNOV. TCHAIKOVSKY. Violin concertos, Meditation
(RCA, 2002) Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (cond. Jansons)
[All Russian, all great! The Prokofiev is a challenge, but Znaider rocks it. Fun stuff with Glazunov, then a nice interpretation of Tchaikovsky's little masterpiece.]
Znaider, Nikolaj
(RCA, 2003) with Daniel Gortler (piano)
[Most virtuosi eventually record their show-stopper encores, and Znaider recorded his, with piano, nice and early in his career. A young man swaggering his stuff? Yes, and bloody fine it is, too.]


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