What are your favorite violin concertos?

May 27, 2018, 3:46 PM · Just curious to see what pops up! Also, could you explain a little bit why you like that particular concerto? It shows me your viewpoint on the music.

Replies (33)

May 27, 2018, 5:38 PM · Either Walton, Berg, or Shostakovich 1.

Just aesthetic reasons :)

May 28, 2018, 12:36 AM · Sibelius - my homeland hero ;)

This concerto just has a special place in my heart, it’s not really like other romantic concertos, I think. Something different.

I also like Beethoven’s, though only the first movement for some reason :|

May 28, 2018, 2:45 AM · The lesser known ones: Szymanowskis, Korngold, Bartok 1, etc...
May 28, 2018, 4:36 AM · In 2012 Lauri organized a "tournament" among violin concertos here on violinist.com. The tournamen was won by Beethoven. If you search [tournament round] in the search box (omit the square brackets) you will find the relevant blog posts.
May 28, 2018, 10:43 AM · Ooh, thanks Jean!
Edited: May 28, 2018, 1:27 PM · Korngold - my all time number one, for musical and sentimental reasons. The recording with Anne Sophie Mutter is breathtaking.

Bruch. I mean, who couldn't love Bruch? (At least if you're at a level when you did not have to practice it over and over again for months. And I'm securely far away from that.)

Mendelssohn - even if we hear it too often, especially in a too "always almost the same" manner.

Beethoven - as it seems, everybody finds something different in there...

Bach double concerto - because this list can't be without Bach. Bach is the quintessence of music, and life without music is just a pitiful error. So life can't be without a little bit of Bach, at least...

But, why always only the big names and oevres?
Portnoff Nr. 13 - for a basic simple little almost-beginners student level concerto it definitely has it's great moments! And it was extremely instructive but also lots of fun to learn and play it when I've been there a year ago...

Edited: May 28, 2018, 1:29 PM · What a mess Schmidt never wrote a violin concerto... I'm sure it would be in my list, too. Sorry Nina to hijack this thread, but this goes for my favorite unwritten violin concerto...
Edited: May 28, 2018, 1:40 PM · No, it's fine Nuuska! There was actually a thread about which composers didn't write concertos... I think it's still open!
EDIT: Nvm, it's closed.
http://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=1354
Edited: May 28, 2018, 3:43 PM · I remember a time when I was less familiar with violin concertos generally, and I was driving somewhere, and I turned on the radio, and a violin concerto was just beginning. I thought, well, okay, I'll give this a chance. I was rivited. I thought it was just absolutely spectacular in every way. Turned out it was the Sibelius performed by Julian Sitkovetsky. That's when I decided to listen to more VCs seriously.

I don't have a favorite time period. I like Bach and Mozart concertos just as much as Prokofiev and Korngold. One that I like less well is the Bruch G Minor, but I'll still listen to it and enjoy it if it comes on the radio in my study while I'm working.

Edited: May 28, 2018, 3:57 PM · Although there are many great concertos I don't really need to think that hard (if at all) to pick my favorite. Its Brahms all the way.

From the expansive unison opening theme (which gets harmonized differently each time it appears subsequently) to the soulful ritardando sixths at the very end of the third movement the concerto's greatest moments surpass the peaks of all others, in my opinion of course.

The second movement is the most standard but is still rife with moments of genius. The 20 measures or so leading up to and through the broken octaves at the recap give me chills just thinking about them.

If Brahms had written the third movement as a standalone piece and simply entitled it "Hungarian Rondo" or something like that it would stand as one of the great virtuoso showpieces ever all on its own.

Am I coming across as a Brahms fanboy yet? good.

I would put The Double concerto as my #2 favorite concerto that includes violin and both piano concertos would be in my list of top ten of concertos for any instrument. I can't go a week without listening to them.

May 28, 2018, 4:37 PM · Beethoven op. 61. It's everything all the other concertos wish they could be.
May 28, 2018, 4:53 PM · No love for the Barber? I especially like Hilary Hahn's version.
May 28, 2018, 9:40 PM · Sure!
Edited: May 28, 2018, 11:33 PM · I don't think anyone is disrespecting the Barber concerto by not naming it their absolute favorite violin concerto of all time. It's a cute piece that has some really nice moments.

If I took the time to really think about a more comprehensive list it might break my top 20, but I don't think I'd place it ahead of even lesser known pieces like Scottish Fantasy or the Schumann.

May 28, 2018, 10:55 PM · Nuuska, try young Kavakos’ recording of Korngold. Unequaled IMO.

Also, Tetzlaff’s Mendelssohn at Waldbühne, mindblowing.

Barber Concerto is certainly a great one, but not a masterpiece, just like Barber’s work in general I find.

Edited: May 29, 2018, 12:38 AM · In roughly chronological order
Vivaldi - Op3 no 11 and several from op4. Why? I can't think of any composer who could infuse repeated scales and arpeggios with such vitality and 'joie de vivre'
Mozart - Sinfonia Concertante (violin and viola).
Beethoven. Words fail me.....
Then more recently.......
Nielsen - not sure exactly why but it's been a favourite since I first encountered it
Britten - the understated 'big tune' in the first movement.... the indecisive ending.... and so much in between
Shostakovich 1 - that brooding first movement and the terrifying intensity of the Passacaglia and cadenza.
If forced to pick only one it would be Beethoven.
Edited: May 29, 2018, 4:32 AM · I cannot believe that no one has mentioned the Tchaikovsky!

The lush orchestral prelude; the entry of the soloist almost on tip-toes; the colors and melodic flow; the Tchaikovsky fanfare; the musicianship required of the soloist; the mysterious, muted second movement; the rousing finale.

May 29, 2018, 6:00 AM · @Dimitri In the 2012 v.com concerto tournament, tchaikovsky ranked pretty high and the result, voted by thousands of v.com members, was Beethoven > Sibelius > tchai or mendelssohn. The semifinals were Beethoven > Mendelssohn, and Sibelius > tchai. Note that if Laurie changed the semifinal matching, such that Beethoven vs Sibelius and Mendelssohn vs Tchai, then assuming that Beethoven still won, the second position could have been either mendelssohn or Tchaikovsky.
May 29, 2018, 7:24 AM · Good to know! Thanks.
May 29, 2018, 7:26 AM · Concerto No. 9 De Beriot
Concerto No 5 De Beriot
Mendelsohn
May 29, 2018, 9:06 AM · Christian Ferras playing Sibelius, the 2nd movement is amazing, "that isn't sweat..."

I'd like to mention Heifetz playing C. Sindings Suite in A minor, it's not a proper VC I guess but damn if it isn't one of my all time favorites:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ogxm5psQcxs

May 29, 2018, 12:37 PM · I agree with Mr. Musafia, my personal favorite is the Tchaikovsky, followed very, very closely by Mendelssohn (e minor), Sibelius, and Saint-Saens No. 3, and Beethoven.
May 29, 2018, 1:23 PM · Maybe it's because we heard the Tchaikovsky a little too much.
Edited: May 29, 2018, 1:41 PM · I actually hate the Tchaikovsky concerto and would not mind never hearing it again as long as I live. (And I'm 35, so it's not like we're only talking about a few years.) The third movement irritates me for some reason.

My favorite keeps going back and forth between Brahms and Sibelius. I tend to prefer concertos where the soloist and orchestra are integrated rather than fighting one another.

Other favorites include Prokofiev No. 1, Khachaturian, and Barber.

That said, no violin concerto is even within my top five string concertos! (In order: Dvorak cello, Walton viola, Brahms double, Elgar cello, Schumann cello. I guess one of them includes a violin soloist.)

Edited: May 29, 2018, 2:01 PM · My greatest love is Beethoven, followed closely by Mendelssohn, then Tchaikovsky and Brahms, then Sibelius. I don’t really like Bruch but I recognise that it’s a very important concerto in the repertoire.

Our tastes can be extremely, extremely, extremely diverse. I remember someone mentioning Butterfly lovers (is that you, Paul?) in another thread. Sorry to be a whistle blower :)))

May 30, 2018, 9:37 AM · Schumann!
Edited: May 30, 2018, 11:06 AM · Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Major
Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major
Mozart’s Violin Concerto in E flat Major
Mozart’s Violin Concerto 4 in D Major
(Mozart’s Violin Concertos are very musical. They cheer me up every time. I can listen to them all day)

Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy (Especially Heifetz’s recording (available on YouTube). I love the recording because Heifetz uses a lot of ‘slides’ throughout the first movement, and that makes it sound absolutely beautiful)


Beethoven’s Violin Concerto 5 in D Major (Largo and Rondo) (I find Largo very beautiful, and Rondo very cheerful)

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major

Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major (Adagio Assai) (This 2nd movement got to be the most beautiful thing I’ve heard in my life. I listen to it every night while in my bed, with lights off. (Do check out Martha Argerich’s recording on YouTube. Absolutely beautiful)

May 30, 2018, 12:40 PM · Yeah I like Butterfly Lovers Concerto although it's very sentimental. I can't listen to it over and over the way I can other concertos like the Sibelius or the Brahms.
May 30, 2018, 5:49 PM · In addition to the usual suspects already mentioned, two that seem to me to be getting a lot of more recent recordings are Britten and Bartók No.2 (rarely not accompanied by No. 1, which I enjoy, but not as much as No. 2). I never really cared for the Bartók No. 2 until recently (tastes evolve!!!). Two recent recordings, by two of my favorite violinists, Christian Tetzlaff and Renaud Capuçon, show the extremes in artistic interpretation of the piece. Both of course are played very well, and have their own merits. Tetzlaff's performance pushes it more towards bombastic, where Capuçon's is down-right gorgeous, to the point of it now being my favorite of all the recordings of it I have. Still haven't settled on a favorite of the Britten, but of all the recordings of it I have, leaning towards Shaham's.
May 31, 2018, 12:44 PM · Frank Song - The Schumann violin concerto is AMAZING! That's way up there with Mendelssohn and Sibelius now, for me.
I forgot to add Scottish Fantasy by Bruch as well - I actually prefer this over his two other violin concertos.
May 31, 2018, 2:18 PM · The first movement of Schumann is, to this day, one of my favorite pieces to get out and rip through when I have some time to myself.

I had Kremer's Sibelius/Schumann recording when I was younger and over time I found myself listening to Schumann more than Sibelius. I think I was a dark kid.

I never studied Schumann with a teacher but after re-discovering it through Kuhlenkampff's recording (which I absolutely adore) I finally downloaded the score from imslp. Although I learned all three movements over time the first is the one I can't put down (its the only one I've ever performed). There's something incredibly exhilarating about losing yourself in those notes.

That movement takes you to places that no other piece that I've found can reach.

May 31, 2018, 2:52 PM · At this time, and in no significant order: Shostakovitch 1, Elgar, Korngold, Bach Double Violin, and Bach Am. I first heard the Korngold last year (Hilary Hahn, on a video) and liked it immediately, for some reason. It seems to have received some grudging and snooty comment in its time, but it's easy on the ear and warm hearted, with some lovely melodies. What's not to like?
Edited: May 31, 2018, 4:53 PM · Unless I missed it, no one mentioned the Goldmark Violin Concerto. It is a beautiful piece. If you never heard it, try to listen to Milstein's recording of it -- especially the second movement. (Josh Bell also has a very good recording of it.)

Other favorites concertos are the: Saint-Saens Nos. 3 (Francescatti and Milstein have fabulous recordings of those); Bruch's Scottish Fantasy and the Korngold (Heifetz owns those; James Ehnes' recording of the Scottish Fantasy is terrific as is Perlman's and Kyung-Wa Chung's); Bruch's G Minor; the Elgar Violin Concerto (Menuhin's and/or Hilary Hahn's recording are terrific); the Butterfly Lover's Violin Concerto (Gil Shaham recorded it and it is beautiful); the Robert Schumann Violin Concerto (Szeryng's recording is great); Lalo Symphony Espanole (Stern and Francescattii have great recordings of these); Prokofiev 1-2; Bartok, Sibelius. Mendelssohn E Minor, Mozart's 1-5, Haydn Violin Concertos. Brahms, Beethoven, Dvorak and Glazonov (Milstein's recordings of those two are incredible). I also like the Barber (listen to Stern's and Shaham's recordings). Vieutemps No. 4 & 5; Bernstein's Serenede is also a great concerto. R. Strauss; Kachaturian (Oistrach and Szeryng have great recordings of that concerto).


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