Whats the best recording of sibelius concerto?

October 31, 2007 at 01:18 AM · What is is the best recording of sibelius concerto?

Replies (100)

October 31, 2007 at 04:49 AM · Here's a link to a previous thread with a thousand and one different nominations: LINK to THREAD

My personal favorites are:

Camilla Wicks

Sarah Chang

Christian Ferras

(heifetz and oistrakh are great as well)

October 31, 2007 at 05:42 AM · Not to be trite...but the best recording is the one that really moves YOU.

October 31, 2007 at 06:45 AM · Um Heifetz...

October 31, 2007 at 07:12 AM · Bearing in mind Preston's remark, Dylana Jenson owns this. Maud Powell premiered it in the U.S. (without a chin rest). Don't know if she recorded any of this, but I enjoy her playing a whole lot.

October 31, 2007 at 07:12 AM · I like Dylana. I'd like to meet her.

October 31, 2007 at 12:31 PM · There was a great recording from the 50's by Menuhin. I don't know the availability.

October 31, 2007 at 12:49 PM · I think the word "best" maybe subjective so I will say my "favorite" sibelius recordings are:

1) Dylana Jenson -- she has a herculian intensity combined with emotional depth and sensitivity in this very difficult work. (I have a DVD and CD of her performances). On the DVD, there is a segement showing her rehearsing with her with Ormandy and it's hair-raising!!!

2) Lisa Batishiavili (new CD coupled with the Magnus Lindberg Concerto). This is very very special. She's able to paint a nordic picture for the listener from the icy cold to the magnificent landscape of Finland. Very individual and special recording. She also won silver medal at the sibelius competition. Definitely worth checking out!

Others favorites: Leila Josefowicz, Ida Haendel, Ivry Gitlis, Gil Shaham.

October 31, 2007 at 01:17 PM · Preston,

You are right. It has to really move you. And the one that moves me the most is the one by Christian Ferras, especially the slow movement. It is exquisite!! He has such a lovely vibrato!!

October 31, 2007 at 02:12 PM · Also forgot to mention Viktoria Mullova. Very interesting recording. Many say it's ice-cold but I say she's extraordinary!

October 31, 2007 at 03:45 PM · To date, I must say that I really liked Julia Fischer version... very clean and beautiful.

But I also like Midori's

October 31, 2007 at 04:08 PM · Of the older recordings, I've always favored Heifetz/Hendl. Of the newer recordings, I like Lin's and Shaham's.

October 31, 2007 at 05:11 PM · Heifetz (duh)



Ferras (little heavy on the slides)

Miriam Fried

Gil Shaham

October 31, 2007 at 06:13 PM · Ginette Neveu. It never fails to send shivers down my spine.

October 31, 2007 at 06:10 PM · Is it true that there are is one passage in the concerto that only Neveu played perfect?

Even Heifetz didn´t play it correct

October 31, 2007 at 06:53 PM · I'd say Ida Haendel is a pretty good bet. (I’ve mentioned this before on a previous thread, but anyways….) Sibelius heard a radio broadcast of her performing his concerto & he sent her a telegram saying something along the lines of how her performance was exactly how he wanted it.

October 31, 2007 at 07:07 PM · Anything but Heifetz

October 31, 2007 at 07:34 PM · And if you can listen to Leonidas Kavacos playing it life go!!!

October 31, 2007 at 08:20 PM · I personally like Oistrakh's version. Also Shlomo Mintz, but that recording has its rough spots.

October 31, 2007 at 08:18 PM · Christian Ferras. Theres is a video on youtube that shows him crying during the 2nd movement it made me cry..... and Im 14 if you dont know that from my Juilliard bullitein.

Ilove the sibelius concerto no matter who plays it except for Heifetz... Im sorry i think Heifetz is great in general but to me it was horrible(im gonna get butchered for that comment)

October 31, 2007 at 08:51 PM · About old recordings, my favourite are:

- Neveu, Philharmonia Orchestra, W.Susskind.

- Heifetz, New York Philharmonic, D.Mitropoulos (live concert)

- Taschner, Kölner Rundfunk.Sinfonieorchester, H.Sandberg.

- Stern, Philadelphia Orchestra, E.Ormandy.

- Francescatti, New York Philharmonic, L.Bernstein.

- Perlman, Boston Symphony Orchestra, E.Leinsdorf.

- Ferras, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, H. von Karajan.

About relatively modern recordings, I remember one fantastic recording by K.Wha-Chung. I like too Shaham, Cho Liang-Lin and Kremer recordings.

Does anybody know an old recording by Efrem Zimbalist? I´ve heard many colleagues praised him because of his mastery on Sibelius´ Concerto.

November 9, 2007 at 05:10 PM · I remember hearing a recording by Cho Lang Lin, and thinking he did some really beautiful things with it.

November 9, 2007 at 05:13 PM · shlomo mintz

November 9, 2007 at 05:25 PM · Zukerman's is gorgeous (out of print though)

Leila Josefowicz, who already played like a 50-year-old Russian master at age 17

Mullova - like a brilliant white light - I think Sibelius (who likened his work to a drink of cold, clear water) would have appreciated her approach

Seriously though, this is like those threads asking about the best recording of the Mendelssohn concerto or Franck sonata -- there are SO MANY terrific recordings out there, you might as well give up on the idea of owning just one (or four).

November 9, 2007 at 08:27 PM · with Bruce's idea in mind, I would say the question should be: what are your top Five recordings of the Sibelius:

Heifetz NY PHIL LIVE: pure electricity

Oistrakh a TRUE musician

Neveu for her historical FIRST recordings of the piece

Kavakos so that we can see the development of the piece

Mullova pure playing

November 9, 2007 at 06:33 PM · Watch Shlomo Mintz play the third movement of the Sibelius concerto on You Tube -


November 9, 2007 at 10:44 PM · Watch at Mintz picchettato (down bowing staccato): it is simply perfect!

November 10, 2007 at 10:33 AM · It's always hard to say who has given the best inrerpretation of a piece. I know a lot of people who love Christian Ferras but personally he drives me up the wall! If i had to choose just one recording it would be Vadim Repin, coupled with the Tchaikovsky. I'm a little surprised that no-one else chose this recording but there you go!

Hope you find a recording that you love.

November 13, 2007 at 10:50 PM · I 2nd Kavakos. I haven't heard others often enough to comment, but his playing is always tasteful, and hearing the original version of the concerto which is also included, is interesting.

November 13, 2007 at 10:52 PM · Rosand's is excellent.

December 20, 2007 at 04:43 PM · Thank for all of your sugestions

January 7, 2008 at 06:01 AM · I have a recording by Shlomo Mintz and it's good. I havent heard any other ones though.

January 7, 2008 at 07:57 AM · Five come to mind: D Jenson, D. Jenson, D. Jenson, D. Jenson, D. Jenson.

January 7, 2008 at 08:11 AM · I think the first recording of the piece was by Hefetz(w.Barbirolli or Beecham, can't remember), not Neveu.

Has anyone listened to Silvia Marcovici with the Gothenburg S.O under Järvi (father)? It was listed in Fanfare a few years ago..

February 2, 2009 at 07:19 PM ·

My teacher would definately say David Oistrack's recording!...She says at points he makes the violin scream, and then he'll make it whisper, so anyone listening will be like, "How do you DO that?"  I'm still exploring, but I love his a lot.  Hope you'll find your favorite...looks like you have many to choose from:)

February 2, 2009 at 07:51 PM ·

Which Oistrakh? He recorded it at least 4 times.

February 2, 2009 at 09:40 PM ·

I like Hilary Hahn's but that's the only recording I have.



February 2, 2009 at 10:30 PM ·

Id say Leonidas kavakos

February 2, 2009 at 10:59 PM ·

I have a  large collection of CDs, DVDs and vinyl recordings of the Sibelius. None of them can be considered the "best" recording, because they are all wonderfully different and fascinating in their own way. My own personal favourite is Christian Ferras's, even though I recognise that much of this performance has an almost hysterically quick vibrato and really schmaltzy slow movement. But there is a really engaging and heartfelt approach which for me surpasses the others.

Vengerov's is also very compelling (the DVD recording with Barenboim conducting) but in an entirely different way. His is more dynamically contrasted (as with most Vengerov interpretations). It's also more accurate (most notes in tune etc), but that is not really what I am looking for.

As with all these quests for a definitive performance..there isn't one. The wonderful thing about the violin is just how much variation in styles there is. Something to be celebrated rather than honed down to one perceived "best" performance.



February 2, 2009 at 11:11 PM ·


Mr Vengerov tells an interesting story about his work with Baremboim. Apparently the maestro heard the young Vengerov win some competition or other and book him o do the recording a yera or two down the road.   Such is the timetabelling of the greats.  Anyway,  Mr Vengerov duly turne dup and played and Baremboim ripped him to pieces.  I don`t recall the wording verbatim but it wa ssomethign like `I thought you were going to be something else (an artist)but you have taken compeltley the wrong road.`  Mr Venegerov siad that he returned to his htel that night and lay awake just thinking about the score.  Apparently he had some kind of revelation about that music and the notion of art in general. The next day he returned for another shot with the master who was both pleased and relieved.

It takes a sincere person to publish such a harsh story against yourself.  I tip my hat at Mr Vengerov for doing so.



February 3, 2009 at 12:13 AM ·

So many wonderful performances of this great, great concerto. It's hard to pick one favorite. Maybe it's just one of those unique pieces that brings out the best in any violinist who can tackle it.

Don't forget Tossy Spivakovsky. In his prime, the Sibelius was a specialty of his. I have his recording, and I actually heard him play it in person (long, long time ago). The Francescatti recording don't seem to get no respect, but I like it a lot.

Great violin concertos like the Sibelius (and the Elgar and the Goldmark and the Nielsen and the Walton and the...) seem to come to life just when you think they're a thing of the past.


February 3, 2009 at 12:35 AM ·

Oistrakh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Such a nice unforced and natural sound!  His sibelius is paradise!


February 3, 2009 at 04:53 AM ·

I would like to add Pekka Kuusisto with Helsinki Philharmonic conducted by Leif Segerstam on Ondine label. It takes awhile to get going, but once it gets in the groove it becomes fantastic all the way. The second movement has special insight and the last movement really dances.

February 3, 2009 at 01:51 PM ·

Three more IMO important recordings:

Julian Sitkovetsky

Yuval Yaron


February 3, 2009 at 10:35 PM ·

Cho-Liang Lin with Esa-Pekka Salonen.  The orchestra is the best, and the violin playing is unsurpassed.  What I listen for are the crescendos in Sibelius's music; they are easily bungled by second-rate orchestras/conductors.  Salonen is absolutely the best conductor of Sibelius I have heard.  

The above is an opinion, of course.

August 9, 2009 at 02:07 PM · Hilary hahn for me hers is the best interpretation

August 10, 2009 at 05:06 AM ·

I like Hilary Hahn.  Her recording has a feeling of tautness, tension and resolution.  I feel that she has found the essence of the piece.

After reading this thread, I see that I have to listen to some more recordings of the piece with different soloists.

August 10, 2009 at 09:37 AM ·

oistrakh definitely.. and Maxim Vengerov is really good as well

August 10, 2009 at 02:35 PM ·

Heifetz's earlier recording, with Sir Thomas Beecham and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.


Heifetz's later recording, with Walter Hendl and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


August 10, 2009 at 06:23 PM ·

David Oistrakh with Sixten Ehrling and the Stockholm Festival Orchestra is my all-time favorite.

Gil Shaham with the Philharmonia Orchestra produced a very different recording, but it also contains many merits.

August 11, 2009 at 03:43 AM ·

 Joshua Bell with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic. His economy of vibrato, that wintery intensity, the rightness of everything in my mind - it has spoiled me for any other recording I listen to, with the exception of David O. 

August 11, 2009 at 10:46 AM ·

Christian Ferras. The second movement was heartwrenching.

August 11, 2009 at 05:58 PM ·

 Christian Ferras's video recording!!!! He plays as if it was a matter of life and death. For years I couldn't listen to other recordings of Sibelius but his so that's the dangerous side. I was completely addicted to his performance.

August 11, 2009 at 11:50 PM ·

 I also find Christian Ferras to be THE favorite violinist of mine when it comes to Sibelius Concerto. All three recordings with Karajan (LP, I find the CD version dulled the tone), Szell and Mehta, respectively are fabulous. And his tone seems to be just perfect for the piece.

August 12, 2009 at 02:30 PM ·

What about Music Minus One ? 

August 12, 2009 at 03:48 PM ·

Though this was mentioned earlier on as an excellent interpretation, I wish to add that  Camilla Wicks' playing of the Sibelius concerto received the composer's imprimatur.

August 12, 2009 at 05:13 PM ·

I go with Oistrahk (sp?) and Ferras.  I do like Maxim & Hilary too, but David's and Christian's has something more to it.

August 12, 2009 at 05:26 PM ·

I have always absolutely HATED the Sibelius Concerto regardless of who played it. Ginette Neveu changed that. She is the only violinist who has let the work truly speak to me. I was just listening to it again yesterday - yesterday (11 August) would have been Neveu's 90th birthday if she hadn't died in a plane crash 60 years ago. Neveu is the only one who has been able to convince me of the musical value of the Beethoven, Brahms, and Sibelius concertos. I have greater respect for Neveu than any violinist I have ever heard, live or on recording.

August 12, 2009 at 09:27 PM ·

Cho-Liang Lin's recording all the way!

August 14, 2009 at 06:04 AM ·



August 18, 2009 at 03:36 PM ·

I'd say, Cho Liang Lin - this one is simply amazing, Itzhak Perlman (Andre Previn with Pittsburgh) and of course, David Oistrakh's recording

December 21, 2009 at 04:38 AM ·

There is only one: Ginette Neveu


And another one that nobody know: Georg Kunlenkampff, with Furtwängler as conductor. In my opinion, it is one of the best recording ever:


December 21, 2009 at 05:35 AM ·


>There is only one: Ginette Neveu

Now you`ve lost me. I thought other people had recorded this.



December 21, 2009 at 10:09 AM ·

What Igor said is that there is only one Ginette Neveu, and that is undoubted.

December 21, 2009 at 11:26 AM ·


actually I am a big fan of Ginette Neveu but not so much from her studio recording.  Over the years commentaors such as Ricci have noted that while she was awe inspiring live she was slightly disappointing relatively speaking on disk.  Compare her recording of the Brahms made in the studio with the live version.  The differnece is vast.  On stage she just explodes.

But although she deserves to be rankes among the greats for what litlte we can hear of her making the claimthat her verison is superior to all the others is , in my opinion  just a tad nose thumbing not only to all the other artists who play the cocnerto miraculously but also to the taste of those who for perhaps perfectly objective and reasonable causes would much rather listen to someone else play the piece.



December 21, 2009 at 02:58 PM ·

Oistrakh, the 1950's version!!! Never never heard such beautiful/powerful sound and emotion. Available on youtube it's just an audio. The video of him playing it is in the 1960's

For me, this is the sumum of Sibelius! Sounds like heaven...



December 21, 2009 at 04:27 PM ·

 I was going to say that we've had this discussion before, and then I looked at the dates and see that yup, this is round 3 on this thread. And hey, there's my response from another time, so I guess I won't repeat myself. 

Okay, I'll repeat myself, b/c this recording is still such a clear winner in my mind (for my tastes). Josh and Essa-Pekka and the L.A. Philharmonic.

December 21, 2009 at 04:31 PM ·

 >Now you`ve lost me. I thought other people had recorded this.

Buri, you finally caught on. It's been one grand hoax, designed solely to confuse you. Hope you realize what an exhausting endeavor it was. (Ever see The Truman Show? Yeah. Like that.)

December 24, 2009 at 02:02 PM ·

I like the Shlomo Mintz recording. You can find it on CD or look for the video of it on YouTube.

December 24, 2009 at 11:12 PM · Hilary Hahn I loved how she played the concerto when she was a teenager(the video is on youtube) and I love how she plays it now that she has recorded it!!!!!

December 25, 2009 at 01:28 AM ·

Although Heifetz is as good a benchmark as any, Ivry Gitlis really smoked through it for Vox back in the 60s.  Mediocre orchestra work behind him, but still dazzling.

June 22, 2010 at 04:19 AM ·

Hilary Hahn, of course!!!

June 23, 2010 at 11:54 AM ·

I agree with Stephen Brivati: Ginette Neveu still towers them all: over 40 years I have collected most of the best recordings of the Sibelius. That particular recording was a uge hit in 1946 with Walter Susskind and his new Philharmonia Orchestra and their very first recording. Neveu owned the original score of the last version written by Sibelius, a gift from her teacher Carl Flesh. She is the only one so far, even in 2010 who plays all the octaves at the end as they were written with the lower A clearly audible and a wide glissandi to the upper octave. All the other violinists, including Heifetz, do an open A. Anne-Sophie Mutter who plays that concerto extremely well made similar comments about the recording of Neveu. But I would add that Heifetz first recording is very impressive and one of the best, even if I do not agree with his tempi. So was Heifetz but the lyrics parts are so beautiful... In that particular field, Neveu is more mystical and the complete work is impregnated with that particular mood. Neveu has an intensity not matched by others all through the entire piece. This is even more evident in the last movement:. So energic and extremely difficult to maintain that level of playing until the end, at the right tempo, Allegro ma non tanto... A polar bear polonaise.

In the Art of the violin Monsaingeon's DVD, Hilary Han's comment resume it all in very simple words: "Her eyes (Neveu) were just glooming at the conductor...she was very intense."

June 26, 2010 at 06:19 AM ·

without a doubt it is yi-jia susanne hou. here's a link for your approval.


April 23, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Anne/Sophie Mutter!..in Sibelius as played today

by many she has NO competition!! Please listen

carefully...she makes REAL music aside being "just"

great violinist. Opening alone paints coolness

of Finlandia and greatness of Sibelius.

April 26, 2012 at 05:40 AM · Most definitely Igor Oistrakh for me. One of the rarest recordings ever, but his sound is so fragile, so delicate, and so helpless that it almost feels like as if you're alone in a snowing field and you're about to get swallowed up.

I've listened to his father's, Neveu, both my teachers', Bell's, Perlman, Zimbalist, Hahn, Batiashvili, Fischer, Chang, Chung, Suwanai, Kavakos... hell, I think I have most of the released ones. But Igor trumps every single one of them. Sibelius is cold, so cold that you're about to get swallowed up with no one around you (for me, anyway). Igor is the only person who manages to depict it.

The CD was a collection of live performances with Kremer's Mendelssohn (another best imho), Oistrakh Sr's Tchaik, Mutter's Bruch and Igor's Sibelius. If there was a fire and I got to save one CD, I'd save that one.

December 18, 2012 at 03:54 AM · Sorry,Heifetz is not the obvious choice for this concerto. In the 2 studio and the 2 concert performances (perhaps the live 1930's radio broadcast with Leopold Stokowski being the best of the four) Heifetz is incredibly precise but cold. For me, the 1966 live performance by Oistrakh (available on youtube) truly conveys the fire and ice of this concerto--really hot-blooded playing.

December 20, 2012 at 06:34 AM · I agree with Ida Haendel also if you haven't seen the video of Christian Ferras on youtube I think his version is spectacular.

December 20, 2012 at 06:54 AM · the 3rd movement by Philippe Hirshhorn is definitely the best. It is so boyish young and full of fire!

December 20, 2012 at 09:30 AM · Christian Ferras, Hilary Hahn, Cho-Liang Lin!

October 20, 2015 at 02:58 PM · Reviving this very old thread because, #1, I never get tired of hearing what others' favorite recording of the Sibelius is, and why, and #2 because multiple people mentioned that Leonidas Kavakos is very much a winner to see performing it live. Small world - I just noticed a few days ago that Kavakos is going to be performing the Sibelius with the San Francisco Symphony on Nov 13-15 (2015). Yay, and I have a ticket! I'd thought he was a relative newcomer, but nope, with several people mentioning him here, back when this thread was created, in 2007, sounds like he's well-seasoned.

Anyone else going to hear a Sibelius VC this season? 2015 marks the composer's 150th birthday.

And I'll go ahead and add my opinion of best recording (and does a YouTube performance count?): Joshua Bell with Esa-Pekka Salonen (sp?) conducting. Can't believe no one else has mentioned his performance! (Except that sometimes mentioning him stirs controversy.) I'm putting his there, right below David Oistrakh's. Similar interpretative choices. Just mesmerizing in every way. (I should mention that Bell's was my first recording of the Sibelius, before I even really knew about its power, and maybe we always prefer the recording/style we cut our musical teeth on.)

October 20, 2015 at 05:07 PM · Try listening to Szeryng.

October 20, 2015 at 05:20 PM · The first time I ever heard the Sibelius VC was when I was driving my car somewhere (this was quite a while ago) and it was on the radio. The violinist was Sitkovestsky. I thought both concerto and performance were outstanding. Since then I have heard many good recordings of the same piece, but I will always remember that experience.

October 20, 2015 at 08:09 PM · Heifetz with Chicago Symphony.Just got it on vinyl on the Living Stereo label.Ravishing playing and technically the recording is superb.It was $54.00 but an absolute gem.I am looking for Ida Haendel on vinyl after reading these replies...

October 20, 2015 at 08:20 PM · That's the one, hands down. Hilary Hahn might have every note even more perfectly in place, but no one else makes my hairs stand on end or my blood rush like the great H.

Kavakos recorded the original version as well. It's an interesting curiosity, but too long and diffuse - as though Sibelius wanted throw everything in but the kitchen sink.

October 20, 2015 at 08:54 PM · Here's another really good one to check out. I agree with the YouTube comments re that conductor.


October 20, 2015 at 11:59 PM · You can get the Heifetz recording together with the Glazunov and the Prokofiev all on hybrid SACD for $13, that sounds like a pretty good bargain. The Sibelius is the one with CSO/Hendl.

October 21, 2015 at 01:26 AM · I'll be attending Ms. Hahn's appearance at Carnegie Hall-though I have her recording, nothing beats a live performance. Also saw Mr. Zimmermann perform a very personal and incredible rendition earlier this year at Lincoln Center.

While we all have favorites, I am wary of selecrung "the best" recording ever, because it's so subjective. As far as "classics" go, I did always enjoy Oistrakh's versions, though my approach is that all these great violinists are worth listening to and collecting/listening to all their performances-it's better to enjoy many great favorites than finding the one "reference" recording for any particular work, in my view, as no one will play it the same way.

October 21, 2015 at 12:19 PM · I have that CD Paul and its excellent.Thanks for mentioning that one.

October 21, 2015 at 02:54 PM · I have the VINYL for the Heifetz Sibelius and many other recordings of Heifetz, Oistrakh, Grumiaux, Rosand, etc. etc. Just bragging! ;-)

Actually my Vinyl Heifetz/Sibelius was a replacement for an earlier one I had played so much as a kid that I wore it out. The 2nd one was a new pressing on a softer vinyl and wasn't quite as good. But still, hearing that on decent equipment brings much more depth and range of color than what you hear on the YouTube sound file.

October 21, 2015 at 09:03 PM · Okay, no one hit me, but I just don't like Heifetz's interpretation. It sounds too... Heifetz. Very crystalline and polished but just not... Finnish enough. Or Scandinavian. What is it that Oistrakh captures that Heifetz doesn't?

Probably a very stupid question. They're two different masters with two different interpretations. But I just like my Sibelius to be slow and brooding and... who knows what?

But I'm very much enjoying others' comments! And I pooh-poohed the Heifetz recording I'd heard at the time this thread first came about. That was eight years ago; I was still very green in my VC listening interpretations. I think it's time to check Mr. Heifetz out again.

October 21, 2015 at 09:58 PM · >Kavakos recorded the original version as well. It's an interesting curiosity, but too long and diffuse - as though Sibelius wanted throw everything in but the kitchen sink.

I am tempted to hunt down a recording of the original now - I think it would be fascinating to listen to, after having emotionally memorized the [not original] original.

October 21, 2015 at 11:18 PM · The best? No, only the favorites.. Guila Bustabo tops all including my long-time favorite Christian Ferras (3 different recordings of Ferras I am aware of).. The Bustabo's was on a 2-CD set by 'A Classical Record' label, which is long out of print. However there is another issue by 'Greendoor' on a single CD, which is still available from HMV Japan.

October 22, 2015 at 01:26 PM · Terez, for some reason I want to go easy on you - unlike the clashes I had with Sam re Heifetz and the Bruch Scottish Fantasy in this thread:

Scottish Fantasy Recordings

Violinists: Recordings and Performances: Bruch's Scottish Fantasy was one of his most beautiful pieces for violin, and there are so many recordings out there to purchase.

From Aaron L

Posted September 7, 2013 at 03:35 AM

Which recording, if any, of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy would you consider the definitive recording?

I bring this up not to open old wounds but to make a point about how and why Heifetz had - and continues through recordings to have - the impact that he does on so many listeners and top violinists, and why a casual dismissal by an amateur can set many a pro's teeth on edge.

There can be no final authority on Art and taste. It would have been more felicitous for the OP to have asked "What is your favorite recording of the Sibelius" rather than what is the BEST" But it might be interesting to know that Heifetz took his work very seriously. When it came to the Sibelius, he made a journey to Finland to meet with the composer and absorb the atmosphere. And Sibelius in turn liked Heifetz' rendition very much.

The problem with ANY recording is that it sets an interpretation in stone in a way that most performers are not happy about. Perlman has commented on some of his early records, saying "It's alright but I wouldn't play it that way today." And in retirement, Heifetz himself occasionally hearing some of his recordings on the radio would comment "too fast". Listening to his Sibelius for the first time in a long while, I felt that way too, in the first 2 movements. And yet, emotionally, it still blows me a way like none other that I've heard.

As to Heifetz sounding too "Heifetz-y", yes, I get that, and it's true. He had a very strong musical personality, with a very recognizable sound and palette of nuances, etc. But you know what? The same can be said of all major players, each in their own way. The question that the listener answers - consciously or unconsciously - is what kind of a fit it is between the performer's style and the music. For other examples, Oistrakh also sounds "Oistrakh-y"; Grumiaux sounds "Grumiaux -y". Oistrakh for me is a particularly good fit for a range of pieces that have more than a tinge of sadness, such as the Chausson Poeme, the Prokoffiev 1st, the Shostakovich, etc. But I feel the same mournfulness coming through in his Mozart, where I miss the Mozart sparkle. For me, Grumiaux, with his supple sculpturesque qualities is about as good as it gets for Mozart, Schubert, the Beethoven concerto etc. He's also amazing in the Viextemps #4. But in some other Romantic rep. his natural reserve makes me miss the warmth, flair and tasteful flamboyance of Aaron Rosand. That's what makes a horse race. But everyone is "something-y" and the Sibelius, as the composer, himself, felt, is well-served by Heifetz' individuality.

So in the end, which is my favorite interpretation? Why, my own, of course! Sounds terrible? But think about it for a moment. That's how every performer feels or should feel, if they have a strong point of view. If I didn't like the way I interpreted something, I'd change it. And however subtly, there is always an evolution going on here and there in my interpretations.

October 22, 2015 at 02:23 PM · "But everyone is something-y."

Even me!

Unfortunately the "something" is ... unmentionable.

There are so many violinists and recordings that it's just really unlikely that Heifetz's recording is going to be your favorite all the time for every piece. For me, what makes Heifetz one of the all-time greats is that regardless of what piece you are working on, when you listen to Heifetz you're going to witness a compelling portrayal of the musical content, likely learn a few useful things, and enjoy a technically superior performance, even if his particular interpretation is not what you ultimately prefer.

EDIT to respond to Christina's post right below mine, some performers are intrinsically exhausting to watch (such as pianist Lang Lang). With those I sometimes try to just watch the pianist or the orchestra or even close my eyes.

October 22, 2015 at 02:30 PM · Just saw Ray Chen play it with our local band a few weeks ago.... it was great but I kinda got the feeling of non-stop intensity from beginning to end. A friend who was in the 2nd row said he was absolutely exhausted just from watching it.

I mentioned earlier in this thread (years ago) that Ida Haendel had gotten the seal of approval from Sibelius himself for her performance of his concerto. Just last week Strad Magazine posted this Youtube video of her playing it with the Montreal Symphony in 1981 in their Facebook feed.

October 22, 2015 at 04:34 PM · Well put, Paul!

October 22, 2015 at 04:42 PM · Raphael, I loved reading your response, and thank you for going easy on me. : )

Life has taken me away from V.com of late, and it's such a joy to return and have intelligent conversations about music and musicians and composers. (Coincidentally - or probably not - I recently wrote about Sibelius and his violin concerto over at The Classical Girl and was a bit stymied that it hadn't gotten a lot of reads. No wonder I returned here, to find predictably great conversation on the subject!)

Thanks, everyone, for commenting on what is a very old post. Enjoying all these responses. (Too bad the thread will archive in approximately 5 posts, though!)

October 22, 2015 at 04:46 PM · OK, I refrained yesterday, but today I feel like I've been given a license to say, thanks to the man with long resume, so here we go: NO to Heifetz - more emphatic in Sibelius than in the case of Bruch.

As to the original version, I know two performances and both you can listen to in entirety online. So whoever wants, find out yourself.



This is being added in reply to the last two posts below by that wonderful gentleman; I knew with 100 replies this thread would close. And talk about blocking the chance to reply for others by hogging the last two. But also I knew I could add comments by editing this post of mine. So someone opines differently from yours then it is trolling. And wouldn't a resume be for the people who need to be hired, find a job, or sell something? Enough said.

October 22, 2015 at 07:21 PM · NO and NO to the man with no resume and no credentials, but a list of ad hominum barbs - for all the reasons I gave on the other thread. After all, what did Sibelius, himself know when he approved Heifetz' rendition of his own concerto?

October 22, 2015 at 07:23 PM · Oh, and Terez, my pleasure! There are ways to properly express different viewpoints and ways to troll. Don't want to end on a negative note. Everyone else - enjoy one of the great concertos in various renditions!

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