So good we retired the number

August 29, 2007 at 04:50 AM · Here is another variation on the perennial Your Favorite Performance. I'll raise the bar a bit higher though.

As you may know, in sports, a player who is far and away superior to his peers may be honored by having his number retired.

My question is: Have you heard a performance that effectively retired the piece? No performance since comes close to meeting your expectations.

Please be very thoughtful and weigh your choices carefully.

Replies (24)

August 29, 2007 at 08:15 AM · I used to have a recording of Walter Trampler playing Schumann and Brahms violin sonatas on viola. It ruined them on violin for me, in a way. It was an LP on the BASF label, which was a European conglomerate. I don't think it's on CD anywhere, not even split up.

August 29, 2007 at 12:17 PM · Good lord! What a question.

Heifetz - The Elgar Violin Concerto (plus probably a few hundred other pieces, but especially the Elgar)

Gitlis - Bartok Concerto and Solo Sonata

Kogan - Caprice Basque (heard in person)

Milstein - Goldmark Violin Concerto

David Nadien - Kreisler arrangement of Tartini Variations on a Theme of Corelli

Ricci - Paganini Witches Dance (with Persinger, piano)

Paganini - playing his own music (I wish I had that set)

Give me an hour, and I'll think of a few more (but I won't bore you with them)

August 29, 2007 at 12:55 PM ·

August 29, 2007 at 01:04 PM · Kogan's Tchaikovsky Concerto and Frank Peter Zimmermann's Brahms Concerto

August 29, 2007 at 01:37 PM · Oistrakh's Tschaikowsky and Szeryng's Brahms

August 29, 2007 at 02:03 PM · I tend to avoid the major works when I am thinking of this category. There are some stellar performances of the Tchaikovsky but no retirements.

I think that Heifetz retired the Sindig Suite. He also retired his Gershwin transcriptions. Fritz Kreisler retired Meditation from Thais as well as his Slavonic Dance transcriptions (and for that matter many more of his transcriptions e.g. Elwyn's Invocation, Porter's Blue Skies etc.)

August 29, 2007 at 02:37 PM · Oistrakh's Tchaikovsky

August 29, 2007 at 02:52 PM · Stern/Rose/Istomin Archduke and Ghost Trios.

August 29, 2007 at 05:38 PM · I don't think any piece can be effectively retired. Every time I think I've heard the Best Performance of X, I later hear someone else play it -- differently, but just as effectively. I look at a performance as something that is supposed to be ephemeral. I'm glad we have recordings, but being there, in the moment of playing, is worth it every time even if the performance may be "inferior" to someone's CD recording.

August 29, 2007 at 07:04 PM · Carlos Kleiber Brahms 4 with the Vienna Phil. They play with a "fire under the butt" style which is atypical of the Vienna Phil.

August 29, 2007 at 07:00 PM · Schubert's 5th Symphony: Pablo Casals conducting the Marlboro (the place, not the cigarette) Festival Orchestra. Conducting an orchestra including many, many of the top young string players of his time Casals creats a magic in a recording that actually more than lives up to the memories of his orchestra members. I've heard nothing that comes close to the beauty these players created out of theier relationship with the master. Utterly sublime.

August 29, 2007 at 07:47 PM · Toscanini...NBC Symphony Orchestra...Respighi...

Pini di Roma, Feste Romane, and Fontane di Roma!

August 29, 2007 at 08:04 PM · no


August 30, 2007 at 03:49 PM · Midori playing the Sibelius with the Anchorage Symphony a few years ago. It was quite different. She was sort of wrapped around her violin and she looked like some sort of a magical forest creature. It seemed as though she was barely touching her bow to her violin and this incredible luminous sound just filled the hall. All the technical stuff seemed to me to be flawless and effortless. Of course, this is totally subjective but that one single performance was almost beyond belief.

August 30, 2007 at 04:30 PM · Michael, I think that's a great description of as good as it gets:) It's also why recordings and videos are really one dimensional. Talking about that kind of performance afterward with others who saw it, it has seemed peoples' impressions were mostly different, except they all agree it was great. In those cases something unusually subjective and powerful seems to be happening. There are a few people I want to see live, and this is exactly why, curiosity to see if they go into that realm.

August 30, 2007 at 04:49 PM · Well, I haven't been able to listen to anyone else's Sibelius since hearing Barnabas Kelemen in concert last January, so....

August 30, 2007 at 05:18 PM · Anne, you are absolutely right about the NBC Symphony/Toscanini Respighi. That performance is out of this world! I have it on video also.

To add to that:

NBC Symphony/Toscanini - any overture by Rossini

NBC Symphony/Toscanini - La Forza Del Destino overture Verdi

Chicago Symphony/Reiner Beethoven 'Eroica'

Heifetz - concertos by Elgar, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Mozart, Vieuxtemps, Sibelius, Beethoven, Wieniawski, Walton, Bruch, all concert showpieces etc.

Milstein - Goldmark, Bruch, and Glazunov concertos. Bach Sonatas and Partitas.

Perlman - Tartini/Kreisler Devil's Trill, Dvorak Romance, Wieniawski/Kreisler Caprice.

Rabin - Kreisler Caprice Viennois, Tambourin Chinois, Wienawski Concerto No. 1, Sarasate Gypsy Airs, Scriabin/Szigeti Etude in Thirds (and many more)..

August 30, 2007 at 05:45 PM · Heifitz' Sibelius and Brahms remain my favorites, no other recordings (not that I've heard that many) come close.

Shostakovich's 5th Symphony, performed by the USSR Symphony conducted by Maxim Shostakovich has remained unsurpassed both in recordings and the three times I've gotten to play it myself.

August 30, 2007 at 07:14 PM · In 1988, I saw a live performance of Kyung-Wha Chung and Kurt Sanderling in the Brahms Violin Concerto with the LA Philharmonic at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Now THAT performance was so amazing that I can't describe the amazing feelings that I've experienced. It was emotionally breathtaking and draining in a positive way!

August 30, 2007 at 10:41 PM · A perfect example: Gruenberg´s v.c.

Nobody dare to record it after Heifetz.

And do you know if somebody played it live ?

August 31, 2007 at 02:58 AM · If every numb er got retired what would be left to play? I think that Elman's Tchaikovsky is pure magic but no retirement because everyone still plays it. Likewise with Heifetz and Prokofieff No. 2.

Perhaps the question is better phrased what performances were so outstanding that violinists tend to avoid the piece today because they don't feel they measure up or can only play it as an homage to the performer?

Although I don't know it at all perhaps that is the case with carlos' nomination of Heifetz' performance of the Gruenberg concerto.

As I mentioned earlier I think that many of Kreisler's transacriptions and arrangement (but far from all) were effectively retired after Kreisler's stunning performances.

So again the rephrased question is: What pieces are so associated with a particular performer that other violinists tend to avoid the piece or play it as an homage to the performer associated with it.

For example Perlman plays the Sindig Suite (very well) while acknowledging Heifetz' primacy.

August 31, 2007 at 04:46 AM · Another vote for Heifetz' Sibelius, unparalleled. The mood of the concerto provides a perfect fit for Heifetz' virtuosic, steely style.

That's Sinding, not Sindig, BTW. Suite in A Minor, Op. 13. Heifetz owned that one too.

Can you retire conductors' faces and eyes? Watch Toscanini conducting Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations" (and the overture to La Forza) in the film of the same name. Ditto Nate's retirement of his Rossini and Verdi.

August 31, 2007 at 05:53 PM · How about the Miklos Rozsa violin concerto, written for and recorded by Heifitz.

It's brutally difficult, and I think everyone who attempts it pays homage to Heifitz.

September 1, 2007 at 07:16 AM · Not really in the spirit of your post, but I listened to Tjeerd Top playing Korngold's 2nd mvmt. from his violin concerto today, and it was absolutely absolutely awesome. Someone send me the music!

Tjeerd's Bartok was awesome as well--I thought of Maura.... (and Janine).

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Business Directory Business Directory Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine