Cesar Franck: Violin Sonata in A major best recording

October 20, 2007 at 12:18 AM · I am seeking recommendations for reference CD recordings of Cesar Franck's Violin Sonata in A major. Any input and discussion is appreciated.

Thank you

Replies (51)

October 20, 2007 at 01:00 AM · There are many many many wonderful recordings available. Kyung Wha Chung / Radu Lupu (on Decca) is beautiful.

October 20, 2007 at 05:49 AM · Greetings,

Menuhin on DVD. David Oistrakh. Heifetz.



October 20, 2007 at 11:52 AM · If you would like a "french flavor/colour" interpretation, Jacques Thibaud's recording is wonderful. Also great is Renaud Capucon with Lilya Zilberstein on EMI. Anne-Sophie Mutter on DG (Berlin Recital 1990) is great too.

There is a DVD of Christian Ferras with Pierre Barbizet on EMI as well.

October 20, 2007 at 12:27 PM · Hi,

So many great recordings of this piece. To add to the list already above, I also enjoy Grumiaux et Sebok's recording of this piece.


P.S. This is one work where I that recordings could have been possible in Ysaÿe's time, because I would have loved to have heard his take on this work.

October 20, 2007 at 01:07 PM · Can anyone tell me which is the best print version of the Franck sonata? I'm playing it for a New Years concert, and my accompanist printed my part from her sheet music CD...no fingerings. Which edition will give me the best suggestions?

October 20, 2007 at 01:11 PM · Francescatti/Casadesus is classic as well..

October 20, 2007 at 03:10 PM · My favorite recordings of it are Heifetz/Rubinstein, Heifetz/Smith and Friedman/Previn. The Heifetz/Smith is a live recording at his last public appearance, at Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in 1972. This was the year that I started teaching at the Eastman School of Music, where Brooks Smith was a fellow faculty member at the time. Naturally, I would ask Mr. Smith about Heifetz every time I saw him in the building! An interesting fact I learned is that, although the recording of this 1972 recital is by and large "live", Heifetz did re-record some spots after the concert, for splicing into the finished recording.

October 21, 2007 at 07:09 PM · I personally wore out my Heifetz-Rubenstein recording. Magnificent music making by two masters.

October 21, 2007 at 07:16 PM · I think the Thibaud-Cortot would be my all time favorite. (Their Faure A major is magnificent.)

October 21, 2007 at 09:54 PM · Thibaud + Cortot = Big Smiley Face!

I also like Oistrakh/Richter, and Ferras/Barbizet.

November 26, 2007 at 05:41 PM · I really like Mutter's recording with Orkis. Her colors are great!

November 26, 2007 at 06:39 PM · This is one of my very favorite pieces! Mutter's recording is excellent, but I love the one with Itzhak Perlman, accompanied by Martha Argerich. It's on the EMI label.


November 26, 2007 at 07:14 PM · A 10 CD box set of Kogan recordings includes the Franck sonata with full orchestra instead of piano. I've not heard too many other versions for comparison, but I like this one a lot.

November 26, 2007 at 07:22 PM · Mutter and Orkis live in Berlin, all the way, and Chee-Yun with Akira

November 26, 2007 at 08:49 PM · I present to you, the legendary Oistrakh + Richter live recording!

First Movement


Second Movement


Third Movement


Fourth Movement


November 26, 2007 at 08:53 PM · If you want a very unorthodox version of the Franck, the one with Ivry Gitlis and Martha Argerich on RCA is very amazing.

November 26, 2007 at 09:11 PM · 1.Ferras / Barbizet.

2.Francescatti / Casadesus.

3.Oistrach / Richter.

4.Martzy / Antonietti.

5.Heifetz / Rubinstein.

Does anybody know Taschner / Gieseking recording from Franck Sonata? Many colleagues speak me very well about that recording.

November 26, 2007 at 09:23 PM · As usual, it looks as if we have at least one vote for every major recording.

November 26, 2007 at 09:28 PM · I agree with Oliver Steiner's picks. Heifetz/Rubenstein is probably my favorite. The live recording is quite good. The Friedman/Previn on RCA is very good as well.

November 27, 2007 at 05:55 AM · Toscha Seidel (Biddulph recording).

November 27, 2007 at 08:38 AM · perlman + argerich, the live concert they did at Saragota.

November 27, 2007 at 09:11 AM · There used to be a wonderful sample, on Youtube, of Charles Libove and Nina Lugovoy playing the Franck. I liked it a lot. You can Google their recording.

November 30, 2007 at 05:17 AM · Try Elmar Oliveira/Jonathan Feldman.

I have it on a CBS LP and I'm not sure if it is available on cd, but it is worth looking for. As a bonus, you get a kick-a$$ recording of Saint-Saens sonata as well.

November 30, 2007 at 07:08 PM · Oistrack/Richter. Kyung Wa Chung is fantastic too.

November 30, 2007 at 07:48 PM · Alan, Toscha is my favorite violinist with jascha and fritzy, but that recording of franck sonata is pretty bad :) not all of his playing is consistent.


I CANT BELIEVE no one has mentioned the recording of Isaac Stern playing franck when he was younger. It's my favorite by far...go check it out!!!

January 22, 2009 at 09:08 PM ·

i recently attended a concert/recital of Sergey Khachatryan and also picked up his last CD with his sister, pianist Luisine Khachatryan. their version of the Franck Sonata in A was very moving and well done...i love it and have it on my ipod now...i def. look forward to listening to the others recommended here...

January 22, 2009 at 09:23 PM ·

Best recording I ever heard is Oistrakh-Lev Oborin.

January 22, 2009 at 10:19 PM ·

 young ferras

January 23, 2009 at 12:18 AM ·

David Nadien

August 6, 2009 at 07:41 PM ·

 I very much like the Thibaud-Cortot, but a prospective buyer of the CD should note that, even while allowing for its age the recorded sound is, well, bad. Additionally, T.'s intonation is off in numerous places. I would consider this a must-have recording if all were well presented, but as it is I would only recommend it to someone who already owns other versions mentioned here.

I don't think anyone thus far has mentioned the astonishingly fine Henryk Szeryng/Mindru Katz performance, coupled with an equally fine Brahms 3rd Sonata. Amazon (USA) offers mp3 downloads, but apparently also CD special order (you have to wait a number of weeks for shipment).

Taking nothing away from any aforementioned collaborations, Szerying's gorgeous sound and intonation as close to perfection as can be; satisfyingly french sounding, with full feeling yet apt detachment, make this version special. Katz is superb. So don't hesitate to add this recording to your collection.

August 7, 2009 at 04:39 AM ·

The best recording ever is Jacques Thibaud and Cortot's performance. You can't find better of it, trust me :)

August 8, 2009 at 08:37 PM ·

 Ferras with Barbizet (not the dvd but CD recording!), and Francescatti with Casadesus.

August 12, 2009 at 05:17 PM ·

Artistically, Thibaud/Cortot is my favourite. Occasional flubs don't matter when music is played with the insight and artistic sensitivity that Cortot and Thibaud bring to this work - and to other pieces they worked on together.

March 30, 2017 at 08:41 AM · Bringing up this old thread as I am going to play the Franck sonata at a recital in April. I have been listening to quite a number of the suggested recordings above and would like to add another one: Kaja Danczowska and Krystian Zimerman. I like Danczowskas tone and expression. In comparison I think Mutters vibrato on recording with Orkis is way too big - almost vulgar. Danczowska and Zimerman may be underplaying the majestic parts a bit compared to Oistrach/Richter but overall I think it is a great recording.

March 30, 2017 at 02:01 PM · I like Mutter's "Berlin Recital" recording the best. Is her vibrato quite wide in places? Yes it is. But this is late romantic literature. I think if you listen carefully for example to the third movement, which I have done many times, you will get a serious lesson in how to *vary* vibrato. Listen especially for the few short phrases that are played without vibrato at all. For Mutter, vibrato is an entire dimension of violin playing. Too many of the "old boys'" recordings (Stern, Grumiaux, even Heifetz) display the constant, "motorized" vibrato that was popular in their day. The best of the generation that followed, of which Mutter is certainly one, broke that mold.

Also noteworthy is the video performance by Aaron Rosand. That's some romantic violin playing. Check out some of his bowings, kind of counter intuitive for me but obviously they work for him.

March 30, 2017 at 03:16 PM · The best performance of the Franck Sonata I ever heard was live and (unfortunately) not recorded. It was in Orchestra Hall in Chicago in the late 1950's. The violinist was Jascha Heifetz (and I do not remember who the pianist was). But the sound of that performance is still ringing in my ears to this day. There are, of course, many wonderful performances by several great violinists, but to have heard Heifetz live, still in his prime, performing a piece tailor made for his approach, is something I will never forget.



March 30, 2017 at 05:15 PM · I have to second the Danczowska/Zimerman. It's paired with my favorite rendition of Szymanowski's Mythes. Both fantastic interpretations.

March 30, 2017 at 10:12 PM · Joseph Suk!

March 30, 2017 at 10:26 PM · Christian Ferras is the best at Franck. One of my very favorite sonatas.

March 30, 2017 at 10:34 PM · Undoubtably the best is Jacques Thibaud and Alfred Cortot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oDhcr7eSOI

March 30, 2017 at 10:40 PM · Another vote for Thibaud/Cortot here!

March 31, 2017 at 12:18 AM · Bruce -- I tried to listen to that, but the quality is so terrible! Is there a better recording?

Ferras snippets:



March 31, 2017 at 03:37 AM · Douglas,

Put out a few bucks and get a cd.

March 31, 2017 at 05:10 AM · Bruce dates himself. ;-)

Put out a few bucks and buy an iTunes track.

March 31, 2017 at 12:24 PM · I am with Bruce - I prefer CDs. My teenage kids have forced me to get a family subscription to Spotify which I use mainly when traveling or to scout which recordings to purcase on CD. A couple of times I have compared the same recording on CD and Spotify on my home stereo and the CD wins clearly. Perhaps iTunes is better. At work I stream from Naxos and that is OK for background listening in a somewhat noisy environment.

Getting back to the original subject I just listened to the Mutter recording again (streamed from Naxos) and while I can agree that she does vary her vibrato I still find it way too big in some places like the beginning of the first movement or the beginning of the last movement. Our taste is clearly different, Paul.

The Rosand videos are interesting. I like them better than the Mutter recording. And some interesting bowing choices indeed.

March 31, 2017 at 03:07 PM · Spotify Premium at the highest streaming quality is pretty good, but it won't be CD quality. I prefer CDs, too, but the convenience of a massive classical library has won me over. (Before I switched to streaming, I had 2000+ CDs, including an entire bookcase worth of violin music. I own that Thibaud/Cortot recording on CD, but to be frank, it has enough audio artifacts that streaming it makes no real difference in listening experience.)

March 31, 2017 at 07:20 PM · I recently went to our local HiFi shop to get some speakers for our new kitchen. This shop tries to sell you "oxygen free silver speaker cable" costing half a months salary per meter and then when you want to listen to different speakers they load up spotify!

Drifting off topic again here. Listened to the Ferras/Barbizet recording. Very nice! Thanks Douglas for bringing that one to my attention.

March 31, 2017 at 07:20 PM · I recently went to our local HiFi shop to get some speakers for our new kitchen. This shop tries to sell you "oxygen free silver speaker cable" costing half a months salary per meter and then when you want to listen to different speakers they load up spotify!

Drifting off topic again here. Listened to the Ferras/Barbizet recording. Very nice! Thanks Douglas for bringing that one to my attention.

March 31, 2017 at 07:51 PM · (Don't do streaming-haven't adapted to the technology to the point I don't know what Spotify is, and that being a relatively "technical" person. I transfer my CDs to high quality LAME MP3s with my computers via Exact Audio Extract. Have a good reason, though-I currently lack a proper audio system since a few moves ago, and only listen via headphones, until fortunes change. Am open to high quality MP3 downloads, but always of full albums. Streaming is generally limited to online access, which I don't appreciate, even living in a City where wifi is everywhere.)

(Again, I may be wrong, because I have very limited streaming knowledge, it being something that generally doesn't provide me with any interest.)

April 1, 2017 at 04:45 PM · Heifetz and Rubenstein

April 2, 2017 at 01:53 AM · No love of David Nadien (only Marina mentioned, and she's biased because she learned from him)? ;)

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