Mendelssohn recording?

June 13, 2007 at 04:18 AM · What is your favorite recording of the Mendelssohn violin concerto?

Replies (55)

June 13, 2007 at 04:52 AM · my favorite? probably milstein or perlman.

my suggestion? listen to as many different ones as you possibly can.

June 13, 2007 at 12:40 PM · Simple - you want the best Mendelssohn VC - it is the Campoli-Boult version on Beulah (very difficult to find as it is NLA).

Part of a review I wrote:-

Do not look down on Alfredo Campoli (1906-1990) if you think his talents were mainly vested in the light orchestra in the Dorchester Hotel in UK. Taught first by his father (a professor in the St. Cecilia Conservatoire), he developed a fine reputation as a "singing violinist". He made his debut at age 5 and by 10, was already giving recitals. All the 4 leading conductors in UK (Beecham, Boult, Barbirolli and Sargent) in his time adored him and worked extensively with him.

The sound of the Elgar is in mono and is a touch poor compared to the Mendelssohn (which is in stereo). His Elgar is a fine interpretation but probably does not displace Sammons/Wood (on Dutton) and Menuhin/Elgar (EMI) as classic recordings of this piece. The Mendelssohn is a superior performance in sound as well as playing (compared to his earlier disc on Dutton). In fact, his Mendelssohn on this Beulah CD is my favourite performance of this elfin-like concerto.

Many versions are in my extensive library of the Mendelssohn concerto. They are from Jascha Heifetz, Aaron Rosand, Itzhak Perlman, Sarah Chang, Michael Rabin, Gil Shaham, Maxim Vengerov, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Yehudi Menuhin, Ruggiero Ricci, etc. But they all pale beside Campoli (who with his lovely sweet singing tone) makes the Mendelssohn a performance of a life-time. The first movement is lyrical and yet the technique is secure. Portamento is tastefully applied to the second subject, whilst there are no great fluctuations in the 1st. movement tempo, which could undermine its delicate structure.

The 2nd. movement flows lyrically at a flowing pace (and not the great drama that some violinists make it out to be) - a true "song without words". The 3rd. movement is reminds us of the fairy-like music that Mendelssohn composed in the Overture to The Midsummer's Night Dream. Campoli's spiccato semiquavers are a delight and when he reaches the high E at the end, I just feel such exhilaration every time I hear the ending.

This CD is what I term "Beg, Borrow and STEAL!!!" However, Beulah has stopped production and the label is no more in circulation. However, if one surfs the net thoroughly, someone could get lucky and find it. Snap it up without hesitation!!!!

June 13, 2007 at 02:24 PM · the perlman and szeryng recordings stood out to me as favorites, i liked midori and mutter alot too - others worth having are kogan and rabin - i got a chung dvd off ebay and its awesome, I dont think it has ever been for sale in the us but if you keep your eye on ebay you can get it, it is up on youtube if you want to see it

the milstein and heifetz dvds are worth having also (they are up on you tube too) and theres a bunch more stuff up on you tube - janine jansen and a few others if im not mistaken

havent heard campoli yet everyone has been saying his is really good for a long time

June 13, 2007 at 01:59 PM · It's hard to find my favour...

That's why I try to listen to as many violinists as I can, listen to them almost 24/7 until I'm tired of this pieces and stop listening...

June 13, 2007 at 02:09 PM · My favorite Mendelssohn Concerto is the Oistrakh from 1948--it's miked a little closely but it is a crystalline performance and is Oistrakh at his level best.

If you want a less antique recording I'm also fond of the Szeryng recording which I think dates from the 80's.

June 13, 2007 at 03:26 PM · As is normal with these questions, you will get a vote for almost every good violinist who has ever recorded it. The real question for the people who have answered is whether there is a recording that is so awful it should be avoided at all costs. If not, just pick one and enjoy it!

June 13, 2007 at 03:57 PM · Actually I share the point of view that listening to recordings can be more harmful than sane... But in the case of Mendelssohn (IMO together w/ "Strangers in z Night" the MOST "butchered" piece of music ever...!) I would make an exception: Milstein/Abbado/VPO or Francescatti/Cleveland(BTW a VERY elegant manner to avoid problems w/ the conductor...Letting him home!LOL) are fantastic recordings that IMO make justice to the piece.About actual violinists I don't know much, but I remember the young(the later recording I don't like so much) Zukerman playing it like a God...But absolutely nothing (Am I entitled to one own opinion / year without flamewar?)compares to the 2nd mvt by "Mr.H"...It's so beautiful I can't listen to it often

June 13, 2007 at 04:41 PM · From: Skowronski: Classical Recordings

To: Claudio Mahle (et al)

RE: LET'S 'BUTCHER' Mendelssohn Concerto

Dear Mr. Mahle:

Please refer/read Mr. Skowronski's (a fellow contributor/member) Master Class article from STRINGS magazine, March 2007 issue. The item revolves about the 'abuse' that the E Minor has been subjected to over oh so many years. Interesting fare, might we add!

More convenient, if you wish,..try the following: ~~ ENTER, then CLICK "Press & Reviews' to locate the article.

OR, simply Google Skowronski.

A penny for your thoughts.........?!


Skowronski: Classical Recordings

New CD:

June 13, 2007 at 05:22 PM · Dear Mr Skowronski, my thoughts are not worth a penny...And the article is great! But I disagree in one point: When I play (But NEVER the Mendelssohn,I prefer easier "songs"...LOL) I'm rather in the "slow side", BUT my opinion is that if you can "sing" and let the music flow("Trademark" of Milstein/Francescatti and a somehow neglected "art" nowadays...)in a fast tempo, should!

June 14, 2007 at 01:07 PM · Hi Joel, The Oistrakh-Ormandy was my 1st version (LP) I had listened to. I also bought the Naxos re-issue but find that it yields to Campoli-Boult. Regards - Lee

June 14, 2007 at 01:20 PM · Hi,

I would suggest listening to all the recordings suggested by Joel. Lee's favourite I have not heard but will take his word that it is a very fine reading. I might add to that list the early version by Zukerman which I remember I used to like as a kid when I had the LP.

All that said, perhaps one thing to look for is what all great versions have in common rather than different. Can help to shape an interpretation according to what the music seems to suggest in general.


June 14, 2007 at 02:52 PM · I like Issac Stern's mendelssohn...

June 14, 2007 at 11:16 PM · Greetings,

one verison i don@t think is mentioned here is the Grumiuax on DVD. That is utterly charming to me.



June 14, 2007 at 11:43 PM · they are all great. listen to them all.

June 15, 2007 at 12:10 AM · Joel-

The Ormandy and Philly Orch. I agree with you with Stern's sound, but there something attractive to it - it's hard to explain. He is not for all tastes. I love how he carves a phrase. I would think much of the excess sound would filter out in the hall a la Heifetz. Milstein's might be my favorite...

June 15, 2007 at 01:01 AM · Campoli/Boult...thank you, Cheng Hooi Lee, for mentioning that.

June 15, 2007 at 02:46 AM · Actually there are four Stern commercial recordings. One is from the early 50s. I've never heard it but would guess it to be the best of them. I think that was with Ormandy. The one from the late 50s (also Ormandy) has been very popular, even though I don't see that it's anything great (it's OK, though). There is one with Mehta and the Israel philharmonic from the late 60s. It's a somewhat less good version of the one from 1958. Then there is the one with Ozawa. That's one of the two versions of this work I would discourage anyone from getting (thought I think it is out of print.) The other one I can't stand is by Salerno-Sonnenberg.

There are lots of good ones. If I had to pick one, I'd go with Mistein. The violin playing in the 1946 version is the best of them, but I like the Steinberg and Barzin ones a tad more becuase one can appreciate his tone more fully. The technical side of the last version is not as good as the others.


June 16, 2007 at 09:17 AM · Nigel Kennedy (Nigel Kennedy's greatest hits, EMI) - Just love it :)

But there is just an allegro molto appassionato... What a pity!

July 23, 2007 at 12:55 AM · Kogan's version on Testament Label. Kogan's art surpasses Heifetz's in phrasing, intonation and cleanliness of the tone.

July 23, 2007 at 02:47 AM · Kyung Wha Chung - Dutoit - she really gets under the skin with the appassionato. Fiery and celestial at the right moments.

July 23, 2007 at 07:20 AM · Does anyone want the Campoli-Boult (MP3 or AAC) files from me? Please send me your e-mail address to Please specify MP3 or AAC. Thanks.

July 23, 2007 at 03:17 PM · zimmerman...

with berlin radio symphony orchestra. in 1985

brilliant !

July 23, 2007 at 07:02 PM · I'm a fan of Hilary's, but good luck replicating the tempo. It's quite brisk, especially in the 3rd mvt.

July 23, 2007 at 07:17 PM · Buri wrote:


one verison i don@t think is mentioned here is the Grumiuax on DVD. That is utterly charming to me."

I was about to say that too. Inspiring.

July 30, 2007 at 04:47 AM · how about the concerto for 6 hands


August 9, 2007 at 03:01 AM · Heifetz's is so bland. I don't recommend that recording

I enjoy the Milstein version very much

August 9, 2007 at 03:38 AM · Yeah, the Milstien recording of this is beautiful, though he does take the first movement very fast.

August 9, 2007 at 10:18 AM · Probably Milstein´s recording is my favourite, but I want to mention two more amazing recordings; one of them has Christian Ferras like the soloist (it´s on DVD) and it´s wonderful (great sound, with his characteristical fast vibrato and expressive portamentos). The other recordings presents one of the most oustanding female soloists, and nowadays sadly forgotten, Johanna Martzy. Sweet, but energetic performance, with that characteristical sound belonging to Hubay´s pupils. Enjoy them!!!

August 9, 2007 at 12:23 PM · There is a lovely Oistrakh from the 40's with Kondrashin conducting. Also a nice Bell recording from early in his career.

August 9, 2007 at 12:26 PM · Have you heard Midori's recent recording on SONY with the Berlin Phil and Mariss Jansons? It's quite spectacular! When I got to perform in a masterclass for Midori in a Mozart Concerto, there was another very gifted student Nicholas Wohns who did the Mendelssohn e minor. When she worked with him and demonstrated her artistry in this concerto, it was truly magic! Since then, I've always been fond of her Mendelssohn.

September 25, 2007 at 12:52 AM · Which of the recordings mentioned so far would be most helpful to someone starting to learn to play the piece? My daughter is getting started on this piece. A little over her head and she could use all the help she can get.


September 25, 2007 at 01:05 AM · Nicola Benedetti's recording is the best. In fact I sold all my other recordings of everything else.

I have no desire to listen to anything else.

September 25, 2007 at 01:56 AM · I hear ya Pieter!

September 25, 2007 at 03:07 AM · I've listened to a lot of recordings but I keep going back to Oistrakh

September 26, 2007 at 02:34 AM · ^Which Oistrakh Recording and what CD is it on?

September 26, 2007 at 01:19 PM · I believe the Oistrakh is from 1948 and I last saw it on Melodiya I think--not sure. I have it on black disc.

September 26, 2007 at 02:52 PM · I like Yehudi Menuhin's EMI recording with Wilhelm Furtwangler in 1952. His sound is pure magic and truly unique, as it is Kreisler's. There are indeed many great violinists with dazzling techniques and great sounds (Heifetz, etc.), but, magic, magic, magic . . . I believe Menuhin and Kreisler were certainly at the very top of this list, specially Menuhin in his young years.

September 26, 2007 at 10:51 PM · Greetings,

I agree. The other recording I have similar feelings about is Elman at his best. He made a recording with the Vinna Phil. It`s not exactly high tec and its wayward as heck to put it politely. But the botrtom line is it is a sheer joy to lsiten to. There aren`t that many discs around you can honestly say that.



September 27, 2007 at 01:37 AM · Where does one buy classical CD's these days? I couldn't find any of the above mentioed, Benedetti, Oistrak, Menuhin, Elman. Thank you.


September 27, 2007 at 01:59 AM · Ihnsouk, I like The selection is pretty vast, and the service is good.

September 27, 2007 at 02:08 AM · Anne, Thank you. I used to go to tower records.


October 9, 2007 at 02:01 AM · Brilliant Classics David Oistrakh Historic Russian Archives 10 CD set has the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto on CD #1. Recorded Oct. 25, 1949 with the State Symphony Orchestra of USSR, Kyrill Kondrashin conducting.

January 15, 2008 at 03:44 AM · I really liked the oistrakh mendelssohn clip in art of violin... Anyone recommend a specific not to rare Oistrakh Mendelssohn recording?

January 15, 2008 at 11:48 AM · zukerman is the best with bernstein.. sarah chang too :)

February 25, 2008 at 03:20 AM · The part with Kreisler playing the Art of Violin DVD was by far my favorite segment of the mendelssohn concerto.... Anyone have more information on that recording, or have actually heard the whole thing?

February 25, 2008 at 03:22 AM · Greetings,

there is no extant film of Kreilse rplaying the Mendelssohn, or anything else for that matter. It is not difficult to track down reocrdings of him in this work.



November 10, 2008 at 11:13 PM ·

There's a live recording by Christian Ferras coming out these days on the DOREMI label, worth listening to!! It is coupled with a few other live performances of concertos by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Martinon, all published for the first time.

November 10, 2008 at 11:23 PM ·

 My favorites are Heifetz' and Hilary Hahn's; I like both for different reasons. The Heifetz recording is technically magnificent, while Hahn's really spurs emotion (at least in my opinion)!

November 10, 2008 at 11:29 PM ·

Sarah Chang!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Also very nice videos of her and Mendelshon on youtube !!!


November 10, 2008 at 11:46 PM ·

IMO, Campoli with Sir Adrian Boult (1958). Extraordinary.

November 10, 2008 at 11:55 PM ·

Hello Kevin,

I really enjoy Arthur Grumiaux, Christian Ferras, Hilary Hahn, and Viktoria Mullova's recordings. Grumiaux and Ferras gave their own "old school" interpretation of it while Hahn and Mullova's recordings are really clean. I have about 30 or so recordings of the Mendelssohn and I think it all depends on what you are looking for in the recording. If you are just looking for a good general recording you can never no wrong with Itzhak Perlman.

Hope this helps,

Gerome Stewart

November 18, 2008 at 07:07 PM ·

I have Milstein / Abbado / VPO and it's excellent.. I just (last night) acquired David Nadien / Wolfgang Schanzer / Chappaqua Chamber Orchestra and wow.

This morning I've been going back between Milstein and Nadien... both are wonderful.

November 18, 2008 at 07:15 PM · Actually, one of my favorite recordings of all time is Joshua bell's later one. His earlier one wasn't as well thought out; even he said so. He had like one week to get it ready with the Bruch and record it, so he just recorded the notes on a whim. However, his recording from the Mendelssohn/Beethoven CD with Sir Roger Norrington and the Camerata Salzburg is a jewel. He has such a sparkling, sweet, yet powerful tone, and it has the most succulent phrasing (yes, I said succulent). I would really check it out-it is my favorite recording of the Mendelssohn and Beethoven. On another note, another great recording is Viktoria Mullova's. She plays with a violin strung with gut strings, and an A-430. She also plays with a period trained orchestra. Her Beethoven concerto is there as well. Such a wonderful recording, but it suits different tastes; if you like period instruments buy it. Just my 0.02 cents. I would like to know what people think of these two recordings so please reply :).

November 19, 2008 at 04:49 PM ·

My favorite (and I haven't listened to enough versions yet) is the old Grumiaux video on EMI Classics! It's got soul, charm, and deftness.


November 19, 2008 at 05:42 PM ·

I listened to the Ferras live recording that just came out: amazing, probably one of the top5 with Heifetz-Beecham, Milstein-Walter, Menuhin-Furtwängler and Oistrakh-Ormandy!!!

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