Best (or nearly so) recording of Mozart Violin Concertos

February 15, 2007 at 03:23 AM · What recording(s) would you recommend for the Mozart Violin Concertos? Following the recent thread on Mozart#3 being too easy, I found that I didn't have a CD in my collection.

Used the search tool but have only come across the announcement of many released or about to be recorded Mozart, but no recommendations between the many available as such.

Replies (63)

February 15, 2007 at 03:59 AM · i have the Arthur Grumiaux with london symphony orchestra, sir colin davis, from philips.

February 15, 2007 at 04:36 AM · Perlman Vienna, Levine conducting...

best of all time.

February 15, 2007 at 04:43 AM · Kavakos released a really great version recently. I also enjoy Tetzlaff's recording, though I'm listening more to Kavakos now.

February 15, 2007 at 06:02 AM · szeryng all the way!

February 15, 2007 at 06:29 AM · Has anyone heard of Emmy Verhey?? I picked up the complete recordings by her when I was in Spain because it was only 9 euros....sad thing is it lacked program notes. I just wanted the complete recordings and thought I'd give it a shot, but I don't know much about her.

February 15, 2007 at 07:04 AM · I would of course recommend (like I usually do) the Jascha Heifetz recordings of the Mozart 4th & 5th Concerti.

After Mozart played the D Major Concerto (K.218) in public, he wrote that everyone praised his beautiful tone and that the piece "went like oil." In Heifetz' hands the Concerto goes, one might say, rather more like nectar :)

I would also recommend Milstein, and Szeryng's beautiful recordings of Mozart.

February 15, 2007 at 07:11 AM · Oh yeah!, and also his cadenzas are so cool. I love Heifetz...

February 15, 2007 at 07:35 AM · Yes Vince, the Heifetz cadenzas for the D Major Concerto are excellent. They are super hard though. I performed them with the concerto once. I remember I once played the 4th VC for an elderly violinist who was once concertmaster of a few major US orchestras, and he stopped me during the cadenza and was somehow under the impression I had written the cadenzas, and preceded to try to get me to change some of the notes in the Heifetz cadenza. It made for quite a good laugh later, I kind of played along with the whole thing and pretended I had indeed written this marvelous cadenza :)

February 15, 2007 at 08:18 AM · For comparison you may listen to some movements from Julia Fischer's Mozart concerto recordings including some of her own cadenzas here:

KV207 3rd mov.

KV219 1st mov.

KV216 2nd mov.

KV218 3rd mov.

FMF

February 15, 2007 at 08:29 AM · James Ehnes's set of all 5 is really great. David Fulton sponsored the whole thing, and Ehnes hand picked the all star ensemble. I think it's a wonderful "modern" playing of Mozart. It's one of my favourite.

I also love Frank Peter Zimmerman's G-.

February 15, 2007 at 11:18 AM · Thanks for all your responses. I have now quite a list!

Am going to see what is available in the music shops here before going online.

Julia sounds very good Frank-M; I am looking forward to seeing her play live in May.

February 15, 2007 at 01:24 PM · Best I don't know... but there are some versions I keep coming back to...

Another one not mentioned so far that is excellent, and perhaps closer to true Mozart playing in spirit is Zehetmair's version.

Cheers!

February 15, 2007 at 04:05 PM · The Ehnes set is the one I keep coming back to - great sound, great orchestra, great liner notes. A nice crisp blend of classicism and romanticism. Heifetz is also amazing, as is Fischer and Grumiaux. Perlman has always been a bit too heavy for me - it might be because I prefer chamber orchestras for performances of Mozart, though. Haven't heard the new Mutter yet. Vengerov is releasing a complete Mozart set; I've heard samples, they seem intriguing. And I bet Kavakos would be stunning, too.

But everybody likes their Mozart differently. Experiment with sound samples online to get a feel what each artist brings to their performance. Good luck in your endeavor.

February 15, 2007 at 04:30 PM · Ehnes is my favorite and his cadenzas are a model in the writing...great recording!!!

February 15, 2007 at 07:33 PM · Ehnes, Menuhin, Shumsky, Szeryng, Fischer, and Grumiaux are the ones i like best. You can't go wrong with any of them.

I remember hearing Cho Liang Lin play a live concert of the A major and i enjoyed it very much but i'm not sure if he made a studio recording of that piece.

Julian Rachlin also has a beautifully played G major on his recording of the Brahms concerto from a couple of years ago.

February 15, 2007 at 07:37 PM · Perlman has a sweetness in his violin playing that reminds of the old guys but in a modern Vienna Phil context... Good stuff... I don't even think it's heavy at all. Maybe you're thinking of S&Ps and Paganini where he does get right-hand heavy.

V

February 15, 2007 at 08:39 PM · I like many of the recordings mentioned already, but one of my favorites is Menuhin's 1935 version made with his teacher Enescu conducting.

If you are looking to bolster a CD collection, get "Masters of the Strings", a 10 CD set that features many of the great players.

February 15, 2007 at 09:15 PM · oscar shumsky!

February 15, 2007 at 09:22 PM · I rather enjoy Oistrakh's recordings. They're surprisingly light and classical. Zukerman also plays quite nicely. For an interesting approach, listen to Andrew Manze's version with the English Consort.

February 15, 2007 at 09:29 PM · Shumsky was incredible when he was young. I think his Mozart was recorded later on...He was one of the most underrated players for sure.

February 15, 2007 at 09:43 PM · Oistrakh's recording of #5 with Kondrashin is gorgeous.

February 15, 2007 at 10:11 PM · Oscar S. is a genius and one of the greatest teachers to ever have taught at Juilliard.

::bows down:: Man, these guys are so my heroes, I wish I were alive back then to kiss their feet. (ewww)

V

February 15, 2007 at 10:44 PM · Greetings,

basiclaly you are spoilt for choice. of the dead dudes:

Szigeti

Oistrakh

Menuhin

Heifetz

Milstein

Szeryng

Grumiaux etal.

are all fantastic which is why we all still argue over them in such a rlentlessly violent manner. Then there is the whole new generation of not nearly dead yet player swho are just stunning which certainly includes Ehnes, Fischer, Repin and a handful of others.

The only one i everr found somehat odd which I also think is worth veyr careful study is the one by Kremer with Harnoncourt. Both players have a very clear cocnept in mind whihc is worlds removed from the kind of solid directness of many otehr performers.

The only thing you can do is buy them all one by one. Based on what criteia?

Try a) Alernate oldest, youngest, next oldest, next youngest.

b) Prettiest, ugliest, prettiest

c) CD jacket color- rainbows etc.

d) Smelliest feet first (Vince`s approach)

The world is your oyster.

Les sthan helpful,

Buri

February 15, 2007 at 10:56 PM · Having heard all of Mr. Bivati's recordings mentioned above I would also add I agree with George. Andrew Manze's version with the English Consort (#'s 3,4, & 5) is incredibly refreshing; he has clearly found much genuinely new to say in these works. Astonishing, really.

Would add to the list Kreisler's #4 with Sargent and Thibaud's wacky 3,4 and 5.

February 15, 2007 at 11:02 PM · Oh, I'll skip on Menuhin... he went barefoot toward the end of his life.

Yeah, Kremer... he's "interesting".

V

February 15, 2007 at 11:59 PM · How did I know Vince doesn't like Gideon Kremer...

February 16, 2007 at 12:33 AM · Parmeeta:

I think the Grumiaux rcordings (there are two cycles, one mono, one stereo)probably get the critical consensus as the best. That said, there are plenty of others.

Many people like Stern, who seems to have a good reputation as a classical era performer. I'm not one of them. I'm partial to Francescatti's, though he did not play the first one and his recording of #3 and #4 suffers from Walter's slow tempi. I remember an Oistrakh #4 I liked...a long time ago. Haven't heard it since.

Heifetz played only the 4th and 5th concertos, with the 5th being the first concerto he ever recorded, in, I think 1934. The critical verdict, however, is very mixed on Heifetz, with the being some scathing remarks, particularly by Virgil Thompson. If you want something that is considered "mainstream" look elsewhere. If you like Heifetz, you'll probably like these.

Kevin

February 16, 2007 at 01:07 AM · Virgil Thompson's famous comment about Heifetz ("silk underwear music") has been discussed elsewhere on violinist.com. In my opinion Virgil Thompson was a perceptive music critic and a good composer; his cello concerto is simply beautiful - far more than many other often played cello concertos - and should be played much more. I think it has been recorded only once (with Luigi Silva). If you've never heard it, do yourself a favor and try to find an old copy.

Thompson missed the mark on Heifetz, however. I think he had no understanding of the Heifetz aesthetic or Heifetz's rightful place in the history of violin playing. Heifetz's Mozart may not be to everyone's taste and may not be "authentic" (whatever that means), but it is elegant, heartfelt, and almost every measure seems filled with absolutely beautiful nuances and subtelties that can capture your attention stick in your memory for a lifetime. In short, it may not be the preferred way to play Mozart, but it works. His classic recordings of the 4th and 5th Mozart concertos can melt your heart.

Sandy

February 16, 2007 at 01:08 AM · "silk underwear music"?! Heifetz? What?

Oh my goodness...please tell us the story behind that one, Sander. I'm getting all sorts of frightening images in my head now.

February 16, 2007 at 01:20 AM · Hi, Maura: Virgil Thompson was known as much for being a music critic as he was a composer. He hated Heifetz, and wrote a very well-publicized review in which he used the phrase "silk underwear music" to describe the Heifetz style. I don't recall where the essay is reprinted, but I'm sure you can find it with a diligent Internet or library search. Lots of people agreed with (and still agree with) Thompson. I don't. At the same time, his Cello Concerto is one of my favorites. Go figure.

Sandy

HOLD IT! HOLD IT! I found it(or at least the crucial parts of it):

http://blogs.ocregister.com/mangan/archives/2006/05/from_the_archives_silk_underwe_1.html

February 16, 2007 at 01:22 AM · Sander:

Yes, I think the two of us talked about this before. I kind of agree with Thompson, to some extent, on Heifetz and Mozart. But he is pretty harsh.

Kevin

February 16, 2007 at 01:33 AM · Kevin: Hi. Yes, indeed, it is a conversation we've had before, but a very interesting one, and the various sides of it and the issues and insights it raises are, I think, significant.

Cheers, Sandy

February 16, 2007 at 01:37 AM · LOL, thanks for the link--wow, I miss the golden age of critics. :)

February 16, 2007 at 06:33 AM · You guys completely missed my two favorites! Try Pamela Frank for a wonderful, witty, and energetic approach - also happens to be one of the best bargains out there. Try Fabio Biondi for a totally wacked-out and awesome "H.I.P." recording... he makes Manze sound downright conservative!

Kavakos is very enjoyable, but I always miss hearing the fun of the Frank recording. Zimmerman is just too accomplished and "correct" for me. Heifetz... not for Mozart, thank you. Mehuhin... some genuine beauty, but I don't think it all comes together. How lucky we are to be able to be so picky with our Mozart!

February 16, 2007 at 06:46 AM · Zimmermann of course! :)

Seriously, his Mozart 2 is unbelievable. Well, the others are great too, but that's my favorite of all of his Mozarts.

February 16, 2007 at 07:00 AM · OK,

I am getting a core list that is very long. Thanks again for all the input.

I am wondering, would it have been easier to ask which recording/s to avoid, or would that list have been even longer:)?

February 17, 2007 at 05:52 PM · grumiaux, ehnes, zimmerman, szeryng, mintz

i wanna hear repin

check out the kremer dvd

there are videos on you tube of janine jansen for mozart 5

there is a video of hahn and francescatti playing mozart 4

there is a snip of mozart 4 in oistrakh artist of the people

there is also a video of erica morini playing mozart 5

February 17, 2007 at 06:01 PM · The best versions of 3 and 5 I heard is on the last Q.E. video if somebody will bootleg it to you. The best version of 5 I ever heard live was some guy with I think literally no vowels in his name touring with some orchestra I think from Vienna. The word "noble" comes to mind. It reeked of noble. It made me want to go become a British knight or something.

February 17, 2007 at 06:36 PM · I agree with Jesse. Pam's recordings with Mr. Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra are very good. She seems to blow the cobwebs off of these concerti and plays with her usual abandon and verve. The Zinman cadenzas are refreshing too. DZ (as we like to call him) may be one of the best "accompanying" conductors out there - the orchestra backs her up beautifully.

February 18, 2007 at 01:01 AM · Pam's all the way!!

February 18, 2007 at 01:25 AM · I second (the 5th person to do so) the Ehnes recording. Pristine.

One cannot go wrong with Grumieux.

February 18, 2007 at 07:58 AM · I second Ehnes' Mozart..6th person to do so ;)..I loved it.

Kremer's Mozart is really interesting and I like Manze's Mozart for its freshness..

June 28, 2007 at 01:12 PM · http://youtube.com/watch?v=czWtdxVuZzU

This is my favorite rendition of mozart 5 I.

June 28, 2007 at 05:25 PM · Kreisler's recording of No. 4 is probably the most perfect recording of any violin concerto ever.

June 28, 2007 at 06:26 PM · Grumiaux, Szeryng and Goldberg may have been the outstanding Mozart interpreters of the 20th century. I would go with them. Menuhin's recordings are also very good although his cadenzas are not the usual ones.

June 28, 2007 at 07:13 PM · hahn plays mozart 3 is on you tube now

http://youtube.com/watch?v=SH2ts_KVmRw

June 28, 2007 at 07:37 PM · The way the pope slides into the frame I thought I was hallucinating. Had to toss my head to clear it out and be sure (really).

June 28, 2007 at 09:44 PM · D Oistrakh's VC 1 to 5 with the BPO on EMI and the K 364 with Igor on violin are very good too. In fact, the K364, is one of the very best out there.

June 29, 2007 at 07:35 AM · Thank you for all the info on my thread of a few months ago. And also for the youtube links!

When the Royal Festival Hall in London was inaugurated in the beginning of June, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring at the very beginning was interrupted by a cell phone going off, long enough for the conductor to pause and look up...

and it was reportedly playing Mozart No. 5!

August 9, 2007 at 03:01 AM · I don't like the Heifetz versions- not the right sound and temperament. I enjoy the Andrew Manze recording on SACD.

August 9, 2007 at 04:24 AM · I agree with the vote of Frank Peter Zimmerman... absolutely fantastic playing. Another favorite that I can't believe hasn't been mentioned yet is Anne Sophie Mutter's recording of the Mozart concerti when she was younger.

August 9, 2007 at 01:56 PM · 1st Concerto - Grumiaux.

2nd Concerto - Grumiaux, Suk, Kavakos.

3rd Concerto - Goldberg, Grumiaux, Stern, Ferras.

4th Concerto - Goldberg, Francescatti, Grumiaux, Szigeti.

5th Concerto - Oistrakh, Heifetz, Grumiaux, Szeryng.

7th Concerto - Grumiaux.

Symphonia Concertante - Stern/Primrose, Spalding/Primrose, Perlman/Zukerman (there´s an interesting performance from this work in video by Szeryng and Katims, but I,ve only seen the 3rd movement by the web)

August 9, 2007 at 03:29 PM · For a general complete cycle of the Mozart Concertos, I like Anne-Sophie Mutter's (newer version on DG, Pamela Frank, and Cho-Liang Lin (on Sony/CBS).

Of the past generation, I love Erica Morini's recordings of the 5th Concerto (on CD with Pablo Casals conducting) and (DVD). If you watch or listen very carefully, she does a "killer" down bow staccatto on a G string passage. Aside from her total commitment to the music, her slurred down bow staccatos have always made an impact on me.

For the 4th Concerto, I have a special affinity for the german violinist David Garrett (a former pupil of Perlman & Ida Haendel). His interpretaiton is very clean, stylish and beautiful. I also love Zino Francescatti's DVD performance too.

August 9, 2007 at 08:17 PM · Grumiaux and Perlman for all of Mozart's concertos. Though I normally love Heifetz' playing, I prefer others on Mozart..

For me the most wonderful Mozart recordings are Kogan's - numbers 3 and 5. They're stupendous!

David Lillis

August 9, 2007 at 10:13 PM · I love Heifetz's Mozart(and other works) as always.

followed by Milstein,Kreisler and menuhin.

August 10, 2007 at 11:52 AM · Actually Grumiaux recorded the Mozart violin concertos twice (for Philips).

- the concertos # 1 -5 with the London Symphony orchestra/Colin Davis (1961 - 1964).

- the concertos 1 - 5 plus KV 271i with the Vienna Symphony orchestra/Bernhard Paumgartner and Rudolf Moralt (1953 - 1955).

As a matter of fact (for what it's worth), for musical reasons I prefer the 'older' set. It was reissued on CD a couple of years ago.

Ronald

November 21, 2007 at 06:27 PM · My favorite is the Szeryng set. His is the most perfect technique and interpretation for both Mozart and Bach with which I'm familiar. His complete violin sonatas with Ingrid Haebler is also superb. To have found a pianist to match him couldn't have been easy. She reminds me of the purity of Casadesus or Dinu Lipatti. My second choice would be the recording of Jack Benny's dreams of April 5-7,1934. In it the conductor is the ghost of Gustav Mahler with the Vienna Philharmonic of 1899 and the ghost of Joseph Joachim is out in the audience shouting 'bravo' at the end of the Concerto #3.

It isn't easy to obtain this recording, however; but try E-Bay.

November 21, 2007 at 06:51 PM · Check out the sound sample of the recording at this site of concerto number three, it is absolutely perfect.

http://www.suyoenkim.com/

November 21, 2007 at 07:16 PM · Kremer forever !!!

his recording with Harnoncourt and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

November 24, 2007 at 03:46 PM · Don't know about 'best', (which is best - pink or purple?) but if you want a pure, beautiful Mozart, the recordings Anna-Sophie Mutter made with Von Karajan and Berlin at age 14 are quite astounding. I like the fact that the player and the composer were only 4 years apart in age. (Mozart wrote them at about age 18 or 19).

November 24, 2007 at 04:05 PM · There is a version I heard on the radio that I thought was superb, sorry I can't ID it beyond the fact that Pinkie Zuckerman played and conducted. It reminded me very much of the old and wonderful Oistrakh version I grew up with.

November 26, 2007 at 10:14 AM · Grumiaux and Szeryng! Szigeti too although no.1 and 2 are missing...

Liviu

January 6, 2008 at 02:13 AM · Which recording of Mozart 4 would be best to listen to an audition? There are two basic ways of playing it, one light like oistrakh the others more romantic like grumiaux and perlman... which should I play more like?

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