Gift-giving is one of the great joys of the holiday season, and each year we compile a list of some of the year's best new gear, books, recordings, and other offerings from violinists for you to consider in your holiday gift-giving, gift-asking — and loading of the smartphone, computer or other device. We hope this allows you to consider a music-related gift.
We also would suggest that you consider supporting your local orchestra, ensemble or arts organization by purchasing tickets to online events they may offer, and/or by making a year-end donation.
The first section of this guide includes a list of gear, music and instruments that you can purchase from sponsors of Violinist.com. Supporting our sponsors helps support Violinist.com! You can also find those sponsors directly in our Business Directory.
The next section lists this year's top recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical performers. Many of the recordings are linked to Amazon.com. Note that if you follow these links and make a purchase from Amazon, a portion of that will go to support Violinist.com. (If you would like to give a donation to support Violinist.com, click here.)
Please feel free add your suggestions in the comments section. And yes, in this case, you are allowed to toot your own horn and recommend your own CD or book or product! You may also wish to refer to our gift-giving guides from previous years; I've listed links to those at the end of this blog.
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BUY GIFTS FROM OUR SPONSORS
Clara Schumann, Three Romances for Violin and Piano, Op. 22
Composed in 1853, when she was almost 34 years old, the Romances Op. 22 for violin and piano are among Clara Schumann’s most popular chamber music works. Bärenreiter's edition includes an Urtext violin part and a second part with historically informed annotations, edited by Jacqueline Ross. Schumann dedicated these works to the young violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim who was then 22 years old. She and Joachim remained good friends throughout her life.
Violin Music by Women
Violin Music by Women is a four-volume anthology full of delightful music to explore. Each volume targets a specific level of player - Beginner, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, and Advanced - so you are sure to find something for that special violinist in your life. And violists, there’s a three-volume anthology just for you. Available in print and digital formats at www.sleepypuppypress.com, with sound files to hear at www.violinmusicbywomen.com. 10% off all orders until Dec. 17 with the coupon code happyholidays! (include exclamation point in code)
Shar Holiday Grab Bag
Buying gifts for musicians can be tough, so we've put together these grab bags to simplify things! Each bag contains an assortment of hand-picked items, curated for each instrument. They can contain anything from strings to books to mutes, and more!
Bay Fine Strings Brand Outfits for Violin/Viola/Cello
10% discount on all Bay Fine Strings Brand Outfits for violin/viola/cello: Premiere, Golden Gate, Antique, Moderne, Replica, and Artist Series starting from $750 to $5995. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiry to purchase at discount.
Snark Rechargeable Tuner
Offered by Southwest Strings, Snark's Rechargeable Clip-On Chromatic Tuner delivers all the convenience and reliability you've come to expect, now in a USB-compatible and battery-free model.
Ignazio Peletti Model Violin (1/2, 3/4, 4/4 size)
The instrument features a lovely spruce top, with maple back and sides and a French-style bridge custom-carved and fitted by the LA Violin Shop's team of luthiers. The hand-varnished instrument draws a gorgeous tone — a great next step for the intermediate student in your life! Code "pelettisale" gets you 25% off our listed price!
Fiddlerman Pro Series Violin Bow
A great bow can make a huge difference. At a mere 54 grams, the Fiddlerman Pro Series bow delivers a lightweight playing experience to make off the string strokes a breeze. It draws out a powerful, clean sound thanks to it’s strong carbon fiber stick, and features a beautiful snakewood frog with mother of pearl inlays that make it look like a bow ten times its price. It’s currently on sale from Fiddlershop for only $509. Currently on sale through December 26th (15% off).
Perpetual Cadenza Violin String Set
Experience a new level in beauty of sound, with a set of Perpetual Cadenza violin strings. Released just last summer by Pirastro, these new strings are characterized by their warm and very deep sound, with a great wealth of colors and noticeably easy to play.
Yamaha YEV-104BL 4-String Electric Violin
This electric violin takes its design inspiration from the organic beauty of wood, the simplicity of clean lines, and the comfort of light weight, combined with innovative Yamaha sound. The design incorporates a simple ¼" input to match its clean and natural aesthetic. Use special code Welcome50 for $50 off and free shipping from Metzler Violin Shop.
Musafia Aeternum Violin Case
The Aeternum Series 5, new for 2021, is the latest refinement of the Aeternum concept, Dimitri Musafia's innovative re-interpretation of the classic violin case of the early 1700s. Curved load-bearing partitions add grace, strength, and further increase room for accessories. Kevlar®, stronger than steel by weight, is widely used as a structural reinforcement, making the case lighter. Use special code Welcome50 for $50 off and free shipping. Offered by Musafia, through Metzler Violin Shop.
Stylistic Duets for Violin and Cello
Eight duets for violin and cello, composed by Jeremy Cohen. The styles are very rhythmic, based on Brazilian choro, Argentine tango, Cuban habanera, swing-era jazz and more. Composer’s notes for each piece, score, and parts. Also included: optional viola part (to replace cello). 91 pages. Intermediate level.
Violin Superior strings by Jargar
Superior synthetic core violin strings by Jargar offer a top-notch choice for professional musicians playing everything from solo to orchestra to chamber music. With the highest standards in sound quality, performance and reliability, the warmth and color of these strings is a truly extraordinary blend resulting in a fantastic natural violin sound. The strings have a quick response, and soft notes have a fantastic clarity without using a lot of bow pressure.
Bow Hold Buddies
Things 4 Strings Bow Hold Buddies accessories are teacher designed, tested and approved. Universal-Fit, for beginning bow hands aged 3 - Adult. Made in USA.
ecoRosin is a new line of premium rosins, proudly innovated, designed and created in Australia by Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin. ecoRosin strives to leave a zero footprint on our planet whilst offering string players premium rosin recipes for colorful music making. ecoRosin uses natural, plant based ingredients and resins, including organic waxes and hemp. ecoRosin uses no animal products and is 100% Vegan.
One of the best violinists of our day performs some of the best music written for the instrument. In these works, Bach pushes the violin to do the job of an entire ensemble, or perhaps a church organ -- to use its four strings to create both melody and harmony, and to sing in multiple voices. Hadelich unfailingly makes sense of those many voices, enunciating them in clear and cohesive way. Click here to read our interview with Augustin about this album, which has been nominated for a 2022 Grammy.
It's a beautiful performance of two of the most beloved concertos in the violin repertoire. The album follows Shaham and The Knights’ Grammy-nominated debut recording of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, released in 2016. Read our interview with Gil Shaham and Knights conductor Eric Jacobsen about their ongoing friendship and collaboration. The album has been nominated for a 2022 Grammy.
In March 2020, violinist Elena Urioste and pianist Tom Poster - a married pair - decided to share a music video for every day spent in isolation. They called it The Jukebox. Little did they know it would turn into 88 days of musical adventures, with thousands of viewers tuning in and submitting requests throughout lockdown. It led to some eclectic performances, from Mozart to Led Zeppelin, and a medley of Come On Eileen/Toxic/Baby Shark. The Jukebox Album features a collection of Jukebox favorites as well as six new works written for the project by Mark Simpson, Clarice Assad, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Huw Watkins, Donald Grant, and Jessie Montgomery.
Here is the album based on violinist Jennifer Koh's online performance series, "Alone Together," created in response to the pandemic and the financial hardship it placed on so many artists and musicians. The album includes a collection of 40 works -- 20 composers, most of whom have salaried positions or other forms of institutional support to carry them through this challenging time, agreed to donate a new, 30-second micro-work for solo violin, while also each recommending a fellow freelance composer to write their own 30-second solo violin work on paid commission from the artist-driven nonprofit ARCO Collaborative. The album has been nominated for a 2022 Grammy.
Violinist Randall Goosby -- a longtime Itzhak Perlman protégé - pays tribute to music written by Black composers and inspired by Black American culture in his debut album. "I am so grateful for the opportunity to share this album during such a pivotal moment in history," Goosby said. "It has been a year of division and isolation for so many – I hope this music will inspire not only the kind of curiosity and creativity that brings people together, but also the reflection, understanding and compassion we so desperately need moving forward." The album contains music by Xavier Dubois Foley, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, George Gershwin, William Grant Still, Florence Price, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor arr. Maud Powell, and Antonín Dvorák. Click here to read our interview with Randall about this album and more.
In June 2020, Grammy award-winning violinist James Ehnes transformed his living room into a recording studio and began recording a six-part series called Recitals from Home, featuring the six Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach and the six Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe. This recording features the works by Ysaÿe, recorded in the early hours of the morning when all was quiet in the house. Ysaÿe composed each sonata with a particular violinist in mind, capturing their personality and characteristics of their playing.
Hilary Hahn pays tribute to the city of Paris in this album that contains Ernest Chausson’s Poème, Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.1 and the late Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s "Deux Sérénades." Read more about it in our interview with Hilary.
This album of popular short pieces provides a memento of the first French lockdown in 2020: Renaud Capuçon and pianist Guillaume Bellom performed on social media each day, raising the spirits of their fans. The collection includes music by Ennio Morricone, Charlie Chaplin, Carlos Gardel, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Schumann.
It's an extreme task - getting to know 12 Stradivari violins (notoriously finicky instruments) and recording with them, all during a period of just two weeks. But Dutch violinist Janine Jansen tackled it with gusto. The result is this recording, as well as a documentary film, called Falling for Stradivari, which captures her experience of discovering each instrument’s individual qualities and immense capabilities. All worth millions of dollars, some of the violins had not been played for many decades while others belonged to legendary virtuosi including Fritz Kreisler, Nathan Milstein, Ida Haendel, and Oscar Shumsky.
Francesca Dego pays homage to Niccolò Paganini with a recording of works inspired by the great violinist and played on Paganini’s violin, the legendary ‘il Cannone’ made by Guarneri del Gesù in 1743. The recording was made in November 2019 at Genoa Town Hall, where il Cannone is permanently housed and guarded by a six-person security detail. "Spending a few enchanted days recording with this priceless treasure was unforgettable," Dego said."
It's Grammy award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti's first album playing on a period set-up, including gut strings and a Baroque bow. The album features two concerti by Vivaldi (Concerto in D major RV211 and Eb major RV257) plus Geminiani’s arrangement of Corelli’s "La Folia," which Benedetti featured in her Benedetti Foundation educational Baroque Virtual Sessions last summer. "I have long dreamt of presenting a project which brings together a recording, live performance and our education work, and with 'Baroque' we are finally achieving this."
South Korean violinist Bomsori Kim's solo debut album with Deutsche Grammophon includes works written for or inspired by opera and ballet. Recorded in December 2020 at the National Forum of Music in Wroclaw and performed with the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic and its music director, Giancarlo Guerrero, the album captures the close bond Bomsori feels with Poland, its music, and musicians. Read more in our interview with Bomsori.
You may remember when violinist Vijay Gupta performed the beautiful piece by Reena Esmail, "When the Violin" in his appearance in 2020 on Gilharmonic on Violinist.com. Here is an entire album by the same name, featuring not only that piece but also Esa-Pekka Salonen’s "Lachen verlernt" and J.S. Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor. A 2018 MacArthur Fellow and Founder of Los Angeles’ Street Symphony, He dedicated the album, with its themes of solitude, loss and forgiveness, to "the thousands of people in reentry from incarceration from the 35 prisons across California."
Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt perform Beethoven's three Violin Sonatas Op. 30. Written in 1801 and 1802, they are relatively early works that nonetheless point towards the direction of Beethoven’s revolutionary Symphony No. 3, "Eroica," completed in 1803.
The twice-Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio — violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe, and pianist Marta Aznavoorian — offers engaging, rarely heard piano trios by 20th-century Chicago composers Leo Sowerby, winner of the Rome Prize and Pulitzer Prize for music, and Ernst Bacon, recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships and a Pulitzer Fellowship. Bacon’s Trio No. 2 for Violin, Cello and Piano (1987) receives its world-premiere recording. Bacon infuses the six-movement trio with American influences including marches, folksong-like melodies, and jazz rhythms. The album also includes Sowerby’s Trio for violin, violincello and pianoforte (1953).
The Beethoven Violin Concerto is considered one of the greatest violin concertos, and for this recording, violinist Vadim Gluzman chose to use lesser-heard cadenzas by 20th century Soviet/German composer Alfred Schnittke. These cadenzas, which quote from violin concertos across the centuries including Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Ysaye, Schoenberg, Berg, and Schnittke himself - link the work to the other piece on the recording: Schnittke's Concerto No. 3 for violin and chamber orchestra. Click here to read Violinist.com interview with Vadim about this recording.
It's the first recorded duo collaboration for sibling duo Sheku and Isata Kanneh. They present a program of Barber and Rachmaninoff, including each composer’s cello sonata and a selection of songs transcribed for cello and piano.
Boulder Bach Festival Music Director Zachary Carrettín decided to record Bach's Cello Suites 1-3 on viola as a direct response to Covid-19 lockdown, with the project coming together in just a few weeks. A specialist in multiple period instruments, Carrettín decided his 18th-century viola had the most detail to offer, "the finest brush," as he said. He used all wound gut strings, rather than his normal two wound and two pure-gut setup, to "maintain the identity of each string while also offering a blend when desired."
You might also consider giving a gift from our previous guides:
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