Bruch Violin Concerto?

November 22, 2008 at 05:40 PM ·

Can anyone tell me what the best edition of the Bruch's first violin concerto is? I'm about to start learning it. Also, what's your favorite recording of it? Thanks

Replies (54)

November 23, 2008 at 03:58 PM ·

I think that Anne Sofie Mutter's interpretation is very very beautiful and sensitive.

November 23, 2008 at 04:20 PM ·

The International Edition is a fine edition for this concerto-you can easily change some of Francescatti's markings.

I am a huge fan of Gil Shaham's recording.  In my opinion, he is one of the very special violinists that interprets every note and marking on the page, but not to such an extreme that it is unbearable to listen to.  His playing is very beautiful, articulate, and intimate.  I believe that the Bruch showcases his talents off the best out of any other concerto, besides perhaps the Tchaikovsky.  His CD is sublime, but his live performance on Youtube with the Israel Philharmonic is just as good, if not better.

November 23, 2008 at 05:43 PM ·

I agree with Brian. Shaham's has a pure interpretation, but I have to say Janine Jansen takes the concerto to a different level. Listen to the previews on iTunes. You get the beautiful Bruch, as well as an amazing, pure interpretation of the Mendelssohn which no one matches.

November 23, 2008 at 06:35 PM ·

Perlman has always been one of my favorites for this piece


I'm not familiar with Janine Jansen's recording, but I saw her perform the Bruch 1 live with the Philly Orchestra and I was very put off by her aggressiveness and harshness. Maybe her on-stage personality is different than in the recording studio though.

November 23, 2008 at 07:09 PM ·

Hmmm.. Interersting. There are videos of live performances of her on youtube. Not of the Bruch but of the Mendelssohn and some others.

Here's a video of the recording of the Bruch and Mendelssohn:

And the very recent recording of the Tchaikovsky:

It's a very neat six part series.

November 23, 2008 at 10:04 PM ·

I LOVE Kyung Wha Chung's version, it must be from the '70's or something with Andre Preven and the London Symphony Orchestra.


November 24, 2008 at 03:17 AM ·

Mr. Ciampoli, I see the same thing in Leila Josefowicz nowadays.  She was such a gorgeous girl and such a wonderful performer when she was young.  Check out her Vieuxtemps 5 and her La Campanella.  Beautiful to look at and listen to.


However, her Bruch concerto now is unbearable for me.  She is way too aggressive and her facial expressions make me cringe. She is still brilliant, though, and I do respect her for her playing ability.


November 24, 2008 at 02:01 PM ·

Milstein's recording is one of my favorites- I love how he changes the last scale in the last cadenza of the first movement with fingered octaves!  Amazing!


Also I grew up with Pinky's recording which really suits his style of play.

Gil's is also wonderful too.

November 24, 2008 at 10:32 PM ·


I sugegst you get the Henle edition. All of FrancescattI@s editing is centered around the finegrings he used and not only did he have big hands,  but his fingerings are all deepply personal.  Of course this latter element is presnet in all verisons by great artists but sometimes they have at leats tried to compomise.  Francescati was very honest. This is what I do!;)



December 2, 2008 at 10:07 PM ·

Wow thanks everyone this is really useful :) I've always been a huge fan of Gil Shaham so no surprise he is now my favorite artist for this piece.

This is my favorite recording of it (or at least the finale) that I've found so far.

January 6, 2009 at 06:47 AM ·

Kyung Wha Chung/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Rudolf Kempe on Decca 

Tibor Varga/Festival Orchestra/Jean-Marie Auberson on Claves

Michele Auclair/Austrian Symphony Orchestra/Wilhelm Loibner on Remington


January 6, 2009 at 09:07 AM ·

I grew up listening to my own teacher play this, and his playing is in my head whenever I hear another violinist play it.  The artist whose style most resembles my teacher's is Heifetz, although, of course, Heifetz was vastly better.  I thin my violin teacher was of the generation most strongly influenced by Heifetz's style.  They were nearly contemporaries.  I love the unabashedly vivid chords at the beginning of the third movement.

Before I read this discussion, I had never heard Gil Shaham play this concerto.  Thanks for posting the links to his youtube recording.  Now I love Shaham's version, too.




January 6, 2009 at 05:16 PM ·

Evan, thanks for posting the clip - I enjoyed it very much.

I think Perlman's version (with Haitink and Concertgebouw) was pretty decent as well, although some people have disagreed. :P

January 6, 2009 at 06:04 PM ·

I think Gil Shaham is often underappreciated. When we talk of great players, his name might not come up. It invariably comes up, though, when we talk about great interpretations of a piece. I specifically recall this happening with the Barber, Tchaikovsky, and now Bruch. I think his tone is just wonderful.

January 6, 2009 at 07:20 PM ·

Why dont you look for the complete works for violin and orchestra with James Ehnes and the Montreal symphony in a box -set... you will discover, apart from the famous g minor concerto, about the other concerti and on the same occasion, you will hear an oustanding performance of Bruch's Scottish Fantasia, original version, UNCUT!!! Beautiful playing... I love the original version and the cuts appear to me unjustified musically speaking...

January 8, 2009 at 07:46 AM ·

I think it helps to listen to a lot of different recordings again and again and then make your pick. I've got pretty much all the above-mentioned recordings (with the exception of Varga and Auclair Sam mentioned) plus Heifetz, Oistrakh, Midori, Mintz, Gitlis, Bell and Zukerman,  etc. I can't pick my favourite these days because my taste keeps changing. And really, if you love the piece or if you are working on it as I have been for a while, you will likely to want to have a few in your collection which is quite heavenly.

Enjoy. It's such a beautiful piece. 

January 8, 2009 at 08:03 PM ·

Yixi, if you don't mind listening on youtube you may experience Tibor Varga's Bruch in its entirety. Just type in his name when you go to youtube. And check all of his stuff while you are there. He is amazing. You can still get both Varga and Auclair brand-new on CD if you choose to .

January 16, 2009 at 10:20 PM ·


January 17, 2009 at 06:46 AM ·

Guila Bustabos live recording from 1943 under Mengelberg.There is high voltage playing in the outer movements and extreme tenderness in the slow movement. The reording is available!Very interesting and individual is Fritz Kreislers recording and the most polished one is Milstein!

January 17, 2009 at 08:43 AM ·

cho liang lin

January 18, 2009 at 12:56 AM ·

It would be Heifetz for me but I am surprised no one mentioned Erick Freidman's recording. It is one of the most individual and striking interpretation that I've heard.

January 18, 2009 at 04:41 AM ·

I also prefer Heifetz interpretation, but in youtube you cand find a nice one of Shaham and another of Tibor Varga.

January 18, 2009 at 05:29 PM ·

January 21, 2009 at 05:09 PM ·

Old: Milstein w/ Barbirolli.

New: Chung, Shaham.

Best? The Milstein! Hands down. It is perfect.


January 24, 2009 at 12:31 AM ·

 I personally love the Perlman recording from the (I think, 80's)   but...I am a die hard fan.  


Gil Shaham's is good as well though,

January 28, 2009 at 01:14 PM ·

 Kyung Wha Chung is really the best. Go search in Youtube.

January 28, 2009 at 01:42 PM ·

Oh, that link to Gil Shaham's performance was wonderful! Thanks for posting it, Evan. I'm a huge fan of his as well.

I can't believe no one's brought up Salvatore Accardo's recordings. This CD (*see Amazon link below) has been a real gem for me, b/c it gives you all three of the VCs, plus "Scottish Fantasy" and my absolute favorite, "Serenade for Violin and Orchestra." Accardo's playing is clean and nuanced - reminds me of Gil Shaham's playing, in fact. 




January 28, 2009 at 10:45 PM ·

>Kyung Wha Chung is really the best.

Confusion of personal preference with reality,  of which the latter might be understood in terms of recognizing there are many great extant recordings of the Bruch which occupy the same microcosm of excellence as a direct function of the human race`s innate abilty to facilitate a small number of individuals in having a direct and open channel with the divinity to create a world in a grain of sand.

And I didn`t even mention frozen thingummyjigs from the botty....

January 29, 2009 at 04:28 AM ·

To me, what separates Chung's (with Kempe, not Tennstedt, and on LP or Decca Legend CD, not the two earlier transfers which are inferior) from other versions is the second movement.  First, her playing feels as natural as breathing. And it is full of fantasy, soaring spirit and ultimately magic. Of course, the outer movements are fantastic as well.

January 29, 2009 at 09:34 PM ·

For me it's Christian Ferras / Walter Suesskind / Philarmonia on EMI, even Gitlis would envy the range of different vibratos and sound shades used...

January 30, 2009 at 02:28 AM ·

My violin teacher recommended Maxim Vengerov's recording with Kurt Masur and the gewandhausorchester.  He also recommended Stern's recording very highly, but I couldn't find it.

I personally like Pinchas Zukerman's interpretation of it a lot, but I can't find it anywhere.

He told me not to listen to Itzhak Perlman's recording, because that one is apparently "too" good.



As for editions, I've found that the IMC edition is quite similar to the Henle urtext edition, except for the fingerings, which can be easily edited.


January 30, 2009 at 06:59 AM ·

Buri, can you say that again?

February 12, 2009 at 08:31 PM ·

Cho-Liang "Jimmy" Lin, which I think was released in the 80s on CBS Masterworks.  Can't remember the orchestra or conductor, but the disc is fabulous.  The Mendelssohn is on the same CD I think.

February 19, 2009 at 12:12 AM ·

Personally, my favorite recording is by Jascha Heifetz. He does an amazing job, as he always did. There are some other good ones like Josh Bell and Itzahk Perlman, but Jascha's recording is my favorite =)

February 19, 2009 at 04:15 AM ·


the things is,  they are all great in their own way.

However,  there is one version I am currenlty addicted to which I will just describe a little.  That is the one by Menuhin that is available on DVD.   The first movement is very hard to enjoy.  Its fraught with horrible losses of bow control and left hand tehcnique and the result seems to be a less than salutary interpretation.   Then ,  as was his wont,   somehow in the second movement his magical powers just unfold into one of the most compelling performances of violin music in existence .  Encouraged by this I suppose,  the last movemnt is utterly demonic. Incidentally, if you wnat to study Drew`s legendary crescent bowing,  Menuhin demonstartes this on numerous occasions. I sometimes use this DVD to egt the cocnept across to my students. Its easier than oepning my violin case...



February 19, 2009 at 09:29 PM ·

>Confusion of personal preference with reality,  of which the latter might be understood in terms of recognizing there are many great extant recordings of the Bruch which occupy the same microcosm of excellence as a direct function of the human race`s innate abilty to facilitate a small number of individuals in having a direct and open channel with the divinity to create a world in a grain of sand.

I almost thought I got this, and the realization triggered a pain deep within me, a sort of existential angst. But then I belched and realized it had just been gas.

And I realized I still don't get it. And that's kinda cool. So it will be this month's koan.

February 19, 2009 at 10:37 PM ·


there`s nothing like a koan,

to make you moan.



February 20, 2009 at 10:36 PM ·

The Bruch concerto is an amazing piece!  You will enjoy learning and playing it immensely! I think you have the recording part of the question covered, so I will suggest a sheet music edition.  I use the Galamian edition, it is great!  I also use the Galamian Bach Partitas and Sonatas. 

February 21, 2009 at 04:30 PM ·

Anne Akiko Meyers! 

There are MANY great recordings of this piece, and hers is one of them.  It's out of print but you can find it on Amazon.  Also contains a gorgeous performance of the Barber (and an awesome pic of her with 90's hair).

May 6, 2009 at 04:33 PM ·

My personal favorite is Milstein. Christian Ferras and Heifetz are up there though. Does anyone know if Szeryng ever recorded the Bruch. I've looked around to see if he did, but never found a recording. That piece seems to fit his style. I'm sure he performed it.

July 24, 2011 at 09:46 AM ·

As I also just started the Bruch I just read through this topic - amazing how many wonderful versions there are.  It made me wonder if this was the most recorded violin concerto ever?  I think it has two winning traits - truly amazing music that is fun to play and at the easier end of the concerto spectrum.

I also noted Buri's comment on the sheet music.  I have Zino's too - I love his romantic interpretation of romantic music (seems to fit ;) ) and I have large hands and think I can manage his stretches.  But is there another reason to use a different score - like 'authenticity".  Zino was born in 1903 and started performing at age 10 - Bruch died in 1920 so it is at least theoretically possible that the composer heard the pefromer play his music but I suppose that never happened.  Also, does anyone know of a recording of Zino playing this?

July 24, 2011 at 09:51 AM ·

self reply - there's one on you tube!

July 24, 2011 at 05:39 PM ·

You can get a free copy to download at

This includes my edited version, an urtext, and a piano score.

July 24, 2011 at 06:21 PM ·

Fantastic - thank you very much Bruce.  Now it will be easy for me to see if Zino made annotation changes for his particular playing style.  Do you by any cance have a favorite performer/performance?   I have the Gil Shahan version which I adore but would like a more assertive one to contrast:

July 28, 2011 at 03:28 PM ·

Update - I just downloaded the one by Christian Ferras. This is by far the most expressive second movement I've heard yet. You can feel his pain... (of which he had his share)....

July 28, 2011 at 06:30 PM ·

Live performance of my teacher Erick Friedman playing Bruch.  I hope you like it!


July 28, 2011 at 09:33 PM ·

Its absolutely gorgeous - I love his assertive style in the first and third movements in partiuclar - what technique and musicianship, I don't have a good enough ear to say if this is the best, its just up there with the best (I do prefer it to his mentor ;) ).  I also love the second movement -but for me - and I am sure this is highly personal - no one, even Mr. Friedman captures the heart wrenching melancholy better than Christian Ferras. 

Perhaps its as they say of the blues, to play them you have to have lived them.  Ferras suffered from depression all his life and eventually killed himself (I hate that term 'committed suicide' - still sounds like a criminal violation).  Perhaps you could listen Nate - its available on itunes I don't think its on youtube - and tell me what you think. 

July 28, 2011 at 11:06 PM ·

Thanks for your comments, Elise!  Incidentally, the orchestra Friedman played with here on the live recording was the same orchestra in Paris Heifetz played the Bruch Scottish Fantasy with in the video.  

Yes I am familiar with Ferras' interpretation.   He came from that bel canto school of playing.  I feel that only a very few people could ever play like him.  I have tremendous respect for him.  I have an old LP with him playing the Beethoven with the Berlin Philharmonic and Van Karajan.  

August 2, 2011 at 05:41 PM ·

And let's not forget Mrs. Silvia "Lady Bruch" Marcovici. If you can get over her Darth Vader bow hold and sometimes unilaterally dramatic vibrato (which oddly works for Bruch), then her recording of it is quite genuinely electrifying.

August 2, 2011 at 06:07 PM ·

Here it is - (beginning clipped)

Powerful stuff - love her take-no-prisoners expression, I don't feel satisfied unless I hear that.  she gets an amazing sound out of that instrument.  Anyone know what she plays?  Can't seem to find it on the web.  There was a topic on her on

I just noticed - she was born two days before me.... I hope there was something in the air ... :)

August 3, 2011 at 12:28 AM ·

i really like sarah chang's  performance of it with the nhk symphony orchestra

August 3, 2011 at 11:50 AM ·

Another vote for Milstein's recording.  I really enjoyed Nate's post with Friedman's recording as well!

December 15, 2011 at 06:01 PM · I really really love Joshua Bell's version :)

He just plays it so lyrical and romantic. His tone sounds very sweet I love it!

December 17, 2011 at 10:49 PM · Since he was mentioned only once above, I will say once more...James Ehnes. Recorded all 3 Bruch Concertos and Scottish Fantasy.

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