Best violin and violinist sound

December 30, 2008 at 11:27 PM ·

What is the best sound you have heard from player and violin. In other words, the best combination of instrument and violinist? Give me 3, and then give me a the best sound of a player playing a modern.


My choices:

1. Heifetz and the ex-David

2. Perlman and whatever del Gesu he used to record the encores (does anyone know that del Gesu?)

3. Repin and the del Gesu that Fodor use to play on. 


Modern choice:

1. Boucher on his Needham

2. Ricci on a Dilworth

3. Jenson on a Zyg. 

4. Ricci on a Belini

Replies (98)

December 31, 2008 at 12:10 AM ·

For me, it has to be Perlman. Then Gil Shaham. Third would probably be Oistrakh.

December 31, 2008 at 12:41 AM ·

Heifetz and his David Guarnerius  would probobly be the first on my list. Then would be Fritz Kreisler and Mischa Elman though i don't know which intruments they played on. I could also add Toscha Seidel to that list. I could go on forever but those would be my top. 

December 31, 2008 at 01:01 AM ·

Hilary Hahn

Christian Ferras

David & Igor Oistrach

Rachel Burton Pine

Joshua Bell


As for violins, Amatti!!!!! And not the brothers but the old man! Oh Yes!

December 31, 2008 at 02:01 AM ·

Janine Jansen- Strad "Barrere"

Hilary Hahn-

Isaac Stern-Ysaye del Gesu

Joshua Bell


December 31, 2008 at 02:14 AM ·

Heifetz, King David or Tononi (began with the Tononi, last recital with it as well).

My thoughts - the violinist, as opposed to the instrument, truly brings the instrument to life.

December 31, 2008 at 02:30 AM ·

Janine Jansen and the Barerre Stradivarius.

December 31, 2008 at 02:55 AM ·

Paul, I saw your recent blog about Jansen's Mendelssohn recording.  She's simply magnificent.

December 31, 2008 at 02:56 AM ·

- Aaron Rosand on the "Kochanski" Guarneri Del Gesu.

- Corey Cerovsek on the "Milanollo" Stradivari.

- Fritz Kreisler on the "Kreisler" Guarneri Del Gesu.



December 31, 2008 at 03:11 AM ·

I second the Rosand / Kochanski.

December 31, 2008 at 03:18 AM ·

I always liked the sound of Milstein's violin, but I don't know the name of it

December 31, 2008 at 03:20 AM ·

Ivry Gitlis - Del Gesu (absolutely unique)

Sarah Chang - Del gesu (her G-string sounds so FULL and LUSH)

Shlomo Mintz - Stradavarius (pristine)

Henryk Szeryng - Stradavarius (to me, most perfect sound)

Hilary Hahn - Vuillaume (pure)

December 31, 2008 at 03:52 AM ·

I also have to say that Hahn has a special connection with her Vuillaume and her sound is unique and I will always be able to establish it from another.

And Michael, Jansen is amazing isn't she.

December 31, 2008 at 10:49 AM ·

I am puzzled that anybody can name a favourite violinist, lock, stock and barrel.

In my book, it entirely depends on the work and genre. For example, there are various baroque pieces where I prefer Sigiswald Kuijken or Rachel Podger, there are pieces where I prefer Hilary Hahn or Viktoria Mullova and there are pieces (often from the romantic period) where I prefer historic recordings by Szeryng or Enescu. For string quartets, the performers I like are entirely different again and then it depends again on the period and the work. Unless I am given a specific piece, I wouldn't be able to tell which performer I prefer (amongst the ones I have heard performing said piece). 

December 31, 2008 at 11:17 AM ·

After a couple of peacefull months it seems that "needs some ham" to be beefed up again...hmmm...Could turn me into a vegetarian! Anyway, here goes my list:

Old instruments:

-Another Heifetz / "ex-David" vote, for instance... Even if I never have listened to it live... :-(

-Milstein "Maria Theresia" Stradivari

-Ferras / "Milanollo" Stradivari

-Amoyal / "ex-Kochanski" Stradivari

Modern Instruments

Elmar Oliveira / Curtin & Alf (gorgeous sound in the Joachim Concerto recording and in one live concert I've had the opportunity to listen)

Erick Friedman / Joseph Curtin

Glenn Dicterow / Zygmuntowicz (I've never listened to Mrs.Jenson on a violin by Zig, must be also very good, since she has a gorgeous tone)

And to avoid misunderstandings, I think we're talking about violin sound, not favorite violinists here...



December 31, 2008 at 01:40 PM ·

Valerie- You're right, King David's songs in the Psalms and in Chrionicles.

Along with King David there was also Asaph. (To the directer of the strings...Se'Lah)

December 31, 2008 at 01:51 PM ·

Mr. Paul,

I find it quite odd that you and Andreas Tespolulos are promoting Needham instruments and both use hotmail addresses that can't be contacted




December 31, 2008 at 01:59 PM ·

Agree with many of the combinations listed above, especially Gil Shaham.  I'm going to add a slightly controversial choice with Nigel Kennedy and his Guarnerius.   He gets so much out of that violin and for me, it just becomes a part of him - somehow after a while when he is playing, you forget where Nigel ends and the violin begins.

I know he has a bit of a reputation for being a "bad lad" but this article really explains a lot:

Who plays Heifetz's Tononi these days?

December 31, 2008 at 03:08 PM ·


Sherry Kloss received Heifetz's Tononi ( ) as a provision of his will.

My experience of the sound of great violinists is that the difference between their recorded sound and their live sound is comparable to to the difference between a photograph of a spectacular diamond and seeing one live. There is a sparkle in the live sound that is part of the physics of the distance and space that is captured live by ears that cannot be captured by a few microphones.


December 31, 2008 at 03:18 PM ·


Sherry Kloss owns Heifetz's Tononi.  He bequeathed it to her in his will.

I cannot pick favourites - too many great violinists, but I would like to list some violinists and their violins - I saw a lot of mistakes on this thread so far:


- Heifetz owned the Dolphin Strad and David Del Gésu (named after Ferdinand David).  As far as I know, the last recital was performed on the David Del Gésu, not the Tononi (though I could be mistaken)

- Milstein played only on Strads and owned two of them in his career.  The Maria Teresa was the last of those.

- Perlman plays mostly on the Soil Strad that he owns (though he has played and recorded on another Strad and a Del Gésu)

- Zukerman owns the Dushkin Del Gésu

- Gil Shaham owns a long-pattern Strad of 1699, as does Kavakos who plays the Falmouth Strad from 1692

- Frank Peter Zimmerman plays on a Strad, the Dragonetti, I think

- Henryk Szeryng started on a Strad, but bought a Del Gésu (a late one, the Leduq) and used that almost exclusively from the 1960's onwards.  Interesting to hear his first set of Bach recordings, on a Strad and the second one, on a Del Gésu.

- Joshua Bell owns the Gibson ex-Huberman Strad

- Kreisler played on a multitude of violins - he owned a lot - including Strads, Del Gésu, a Vuillaume, Bergonzi.  No matter what he played on, he always sounded like Kreisler by all accounts.
- James Ehnes plays the Marsick Strad (though not the one owned by Oistrakh, but another).  I am eager to see that DVD where he plays the violins of the Fulton collection.
- Stern actually owned two Del Gésus - the Ysaÿe and the ex-Panette.  He recorded with both.
- Though he has recorded on a number of Strads, Vengerov currently owns the Kreutzer I believe.
- Vadim Repin has the Red Diamond Strad on loan, but usually performs the great majority of his concerts on a Del Gésu.
Alright, I am sure there is more, but I thought people might want to know some background on violinists and their instruments before people throw in some votes.

December 31, 2008 at 04:16 PM ·

A violisnt can make any violin sing.

Violinists: Isaac Stern, Perlman, Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell.

Violin: Maggini


December 31, 2008 at 05:50 PM ·

Of course you're right Richard.   Yet, I have to admit that I found an unusually beautiful example here of blessed violin matrimony(I think anyway).          

(Bach, Szigeti, Strad, and a Pecan?)




December 31, 2008 at 11:49 PM · The Kochanski del Gesu. Fantastic sound.

January 1, 2009 at 03:45 AM ·

Yes, Paul she is.  I was listening to the Mendelssohn (again) and her first movement is so agitated and angry  in a good way, like she doesn't want to be there with the orchestra and vice versa, and she tries to break away in the cadenza.  There is some sort of truce drawn between them in the second movement, which when I listen to it, I pick up tense undercurrents lingering from the first movement.  By the finale, all is well and dandy.  This is music at its best.  When I listen to her play the Mendelssohn, there is tangible emotion in my body.

January 1, 2009 at 04:38 AM ·

Interersting description of what it means to you!

Here's a video of her performing it back in 2005 at the Proms :)

January 1, 2009 at 01:33 PM ·

I'll start with players. The non-exhaustive list off the top of my head, in roughly chronological order includes...

Kreisler, Heifetz, Seidel, Francescatti, Grumiaux, Nadien, Rosand, Libove, Dicterow, Zuckerman (maybe even more on viola), Mutter, Hahn...

I briefly studied with Dicterow, Rosand and Libove (who sadly, passed recnetly), and heard them play in person numerous times. I've heard them each play on more than one instrument - and yes, there are differences. But they each wonderfully sound like themselves, no matter what they played - which is as it should be.

The Kohansky-Rosand del Gesu is pretty special, and finally for sale. But Mr. Rosand has unreasonably rejected my offer of "Monopoly" money!

January 1, 2009 at 03:19 PM ·

Paul, I've already seen that.  I like the pop-up video thingys too. 


Have you watched her play the Lark Ascending?

January 1, 2009 at 04:38 PM ·

By all means, Kreisler and his Del Gesu ! His sound was truly unique . . .  no one has even come close.

Menuhin and his Guarnerious . . .

Wolfgang Schneiderhan (I don't know about his violin)

Sussane Lautenbacher (likewise . . . don't know her violin; anyone knows ?). Her sound in Locatelli's  "L'arte del Violino", Op.3 is magnificent.

January 1, 2009 at 05:34 PM ·

Oh yes. That's how I discovered her in the first place. After watching it and checking out her albums on iTunes and downloading some, I was hooked on her sound and interpretatioins and I still am today!

January 1, 2009 at 05:49 PM ·

violinist:  Anne Akiko Meyers.

violin:  whatever she's playing on.  I've heard her live on a Vuillaume and 2 different Strads, plus whatever she plays on her various CD's.  She sounds pretty much the same on all of them.

January 1, 2009 at 07:41 PM ·

That's how I discovered her too!

I'm pretty sure you're waiting until her Tchaikovsky CD comes out in the US.

January 1, 2009 at 08:32 PM ·

Yes! But as of now I have no room on my iPod Touch. I've completely filled it up because I only bought the 8 gig one and my 30gb iPod Video is filling up too so I've got to go through and delete some things. Just albums like Nadja Salerno's Sibelius... I wish I had never bought it. It's the messiest and craziest interpretation I've ever heard.

January 1, 2009 at 10:36 PM ·

I got a new ipod for Christmas (8 gig nano) and I am working on getting all the major concertos-Saint Saens, Tcaik, etc.  I have Hahn' s Sibelius.  It's amazing.  I also have the Barber, Mendelssohn, Bruch, Brahms, Bach and Schoenberg.

January 3, 2009 at 07:27 AM ·

 Nice responses to my thread, though I did not mean it to be a list of great players and their styles (phrasing, etc.), but rather their actual sound.

BTW, I have never had the pleasure of meeting Andreas, because after some medical problems I moved to Montreal, so I don't know what that person is referring to....and don't want to know.


Has anyone else heard the huge difference in sound between Perlman on his Strad, and the sound he got on the del Gesu?

January 3, 2009 at 12:19 PM ·

I always thought Perlman was a prototypical Strad man.  One of his Juilliard classmates thinks so to, and couldn't figure out why he wanted the del Gesu.  Although I hear that in private, he was able to do a wicked impersonation of Menuhin's Elgar with it.

What axe are you using these days?


January 3, 2009 at 01:01 PM ·

I like Itzhak Perlman (romantic, clean) Hilary Hahn (pure, unique, technique), Gil Shaham (romantic, original, honest) , and Isaac Stern (virtuosic, calm but intense).

I'm going to go out on a limb and admit that Heifetz, while incredible technically, is not my favorite sound.  Perhaps its the majority of poor sounding recordings left to us these days, but even on youtube of him at the end of his life, I'm not terribly taken with his interpretations. 

I love Itzhak's Soil Strad; but otherwise, I go for a Del Gesu violin.

April 22, 2009 at 07:22 PM ·

I am shocked that nobody has mentioned the Strad used by Arthur Grumiaux and Gidon Kremer.  Those are two of the finest sounding violins I have ever heard!

Regarding the 'Heifetz, ex-David' del Gesu, I have grown more and more fond of the sound of this instrument.  The G string just booms!

April 23, 2009 at 01:14 PM ·

My wife recently played a concert with Vadim Gluzman.  I was asked to play but, alas, I was double booked.  He gets a terrific, effortless sound out of the 1690 ex-Auer Stradivari.

April 23, 2009 at 09:27 PM ·

So 3.

Oistrakh, Marsick Strad

Ida Haendel, her strad

Vadim Repin, his Olga del gesu

Sarah Chang, her del gesu

ok, it was 4!!!

Don't know the name of all their violins but here are fantastic teams IMHO.


April 24, 2009 at 03:00 AM ·

I think that the violin doesn't matter.  The beauty is in what the artist is trying to say.

I vote for

Simon Shaheen

He plays a wonderful blend of Arabic and Western style.  

I just bought a Cd by an artist named Chalf Hassan.  I don't know if he's the violin, kemenche or rebab player but the sound is raw and beautiful.

April 24, 2009 at 03:10 AM ·

Definitely Master Jascha Heifetz as number 1,

Next would be Fritz Kreisler

3rd would be Toscha Seidel

4th would be Mischa Elman

5th would be Leonid Kogan

April 24, 2009 at 06:56 AM ·

Sorry, but for me it must be my 3 years old doughter playing "twinkle, twinkle little star" with her 1/8 violin.



April 24, 2009 at 10:31 AM ·

Oistrack and his Strad.

Living players:

Leonidas Kavacos and his Long Strad,

Vadin Gusman and his Strad.

I think Sara Chang's violin is a Guarnerius filius Andrea, not a Del Gesù.


April 24, 2009 at 01:51 PM ·

Here's another vote for Hiliary Hahn. 

April 24, 2009 at 03:14 PM ·


In case you did not read Laurie’s interview with Vadim Repin, he now plays the 1736 ‘Von Szerdahely’  Guarneri del Gesù

(Anne-Marie what’s this ‘Olga’ del Gesu ?!)

April 25, 2009 at 07:02 AM ·

The link goes to an online library of which violin was played by whom. 

I recall reading somewhere the students of Auer considered his 1690 Strad to be the best for sound, though perhaps not best for ease of playing.  His students included Heifetz, Milstein, etc, so this says something.  Should I find the article again, I will post to this forum.



April 28, 2009 at 03:54 AM ·

Philippe Hirshhorn!

April 29, 2009 at 06:47 PM ·

To whoever was wondering which del Gesu Perlman used, it was the Sauret del Gesu

Anne Akiko Meyers performs on the 1730 "Royal Spanish" Strad that once belonged to the King of Spain

Leonid Kogan specifically used a del Gesu

Kremer can get an amazing sound out of his Amati

Ginnete Neveu had an unbeatable sound with her Stradivarius, she beat out oistrakh in a competition!


I went back to my old teacher who owns both a 1736 del Gesu, and a 1695(or 8) Long pattern Strad. I asked to try her del gesu, and being used to hearing such a BOOMY sound from soloists while they use del gesus, i tried to almost force a sound with my bow out of the violin. well unfortunately those old italian instruments require you to PULL the sound out of the violin not to push it out. So after making friends with the Guarneri, I was finally able to relax, and produce a magnificient sound. ESPECIALLY on that G string. wow

But it's quite the opposite from what you expect, trying to be loud actually will make you become softer, and its only when you totally let the weight of your arm drag the sound out of the violin that the instrument starts to speak.

P.S. every note that i played had its own ringy sound. Even a C# on the A string!!

April 29, 2009 at 11:57 PM ·

Eitan - that sounds really fascinating, once you'd figured out how to get a great sound out of the del Gesu, which would you prefer as your concert instrument?  The del Gesu or the Strad?


May 1, 2009 at 01:51 PM ·

Hello Rosalind, unfortunately when I went back to visit I only tried the del Gesu, but when I used to take lessons from her, i DID try her Strad. I would have to say that personally, i would take the extra time to learn special technical aspects needed for the del Gesu rather than the strad. The strad will by all means be a beauitful golden sound, but its much easier to play than the guarneri. When you play a strad it almost makes a beautiful sound with having to think about it too much, theres a certain precision to how much bow to use and at which speed. The guarneri requires a more relaxed and heavy bow arm that is comfortable in ALL positions.

But yea, I would chose to play on the del Gesu for concerts most definately.. its a miracle because i played this del gesu in an accoustically "dead" room and its sound was almost nasal if you will, but once i stepped into the hall, the violin seems to multiply its sound to reach every inch of the room!

true masters of amazing work.. strad and guarneri

May 1, 2009 at 11:47 PM ·

Hi Eithan, I though that pushing the sound (force it out) was a bad thing on all violins. Violins choke if forced and only relaxation and gravity can do the job.  Wow, I'm happy for you!  Such nice instruments!  Some Guarneri modals are just wonderful so I imagine a real...



May 2, 2009 at 03:32 AM ·

This is true for most violins. I play on a 90 year old French violin and for this violin i tend to use less bow and more pressure, i guess kind of like Midori. Using more pressure with my violin doesn't choke it as it chokes older italtian violins.

The del Gesu was also extroadinarily light, and its arches were enormously high. A real beauty

heres a picture of my old teacher and her del Gesu !

May 2, 2009 at 01:59 PM ·

Thanks for the precisions! Yes it's a beautiful violin and it's great to have such a teacher! 


May 3, 2009 at 06:37 PM ·

It might be interesting to know if people are talking about CD violins or real ones. I have NEVER heard a recording of an instrument that I know which sounded like that instrument in real life. I've even had the experience of being able to switch back and forth between life and the feed taken off the board at a concert, and the difference was remarkable. Once you put a microphone in the way, everything changes, and the deeper you get into recorded sound, the greater the difference.

There are a few things that do make it through, but they aren't things I would call "tonal"--like a violins response and dynamics. But tone? Nope.

May 4, 2009 at 02:09 AM ·

Micheal, good to see you chime in and voice out for this topic.

I agree with you, recording will sound nothing like hearing them in realife, especially talking about violin. I've just done a violin track for my friend's song project she's working on. It's in fact sounded very funny and odd, though still nice, but I don't think that sound is what being heard in real life (although i can't hear myself playing!).

I've heard quite a few Kavakos recordings, but quite different from what I heard him played in a concert hall a few years ago. It sounded woody, warm, big and surround, luminous, as opposed to brilliant and clean as heard in the recordings. Both sounded great, but very different that said.

Just for a casual discussion, Micheal, how do you describe the differences of the sound you heard in real life, versus the recordings?

May 4, 2009 at 02:26 AM ·

Casey, I think you have hit it exactly right in many case by saying "It sounded woody, warm, big and surround, luminous, as opposed to brilliant and clean as heard in the recordings. Both sounded great, but very different that said."

One obvious problem is the "presence peak" that many microphones have, a bump of about 2X in the volume of frequencies somewhere above 6KHz (exactly where depends on the mic) that adds a lot of high frequency zing and sizzle. Another is the lack of any real sense of presence in recordings. There's a simulated presence, but it's nothing like the real thing. Another is that violins just don't sound the same at ten feet and fifty--it takes some distance for the sound coming off all the differently-facing surfaces to come back together and blend. Many micing situations only get what's coming off the top of the vioiln, not the whole sound.

We've come to accept a certain standardized substitute sound of what a close-miked violin sounds like, including the very unrealistic way it stands out over the orchestra.  I'm sure that a lot of the disappointment people searching for violins have can be traced to their standard for violin sound having been formed from unnatural-sounding recordings.

At this moment I'm listening to a recording of a viola that I know extremely well. The recording is lovely, but it's not what I experience when I'm adjusting it for the player. In some respects it's better, in some it's worse, but it's not the same, even though it does sound great on the recording. Similarly, I'm very disappointed by every single recording of the "Cannone" del Gesu--they all fail to capture the huge warmth of the instrument, substituting a brilliant sizzle that I didn't hear in person.

There are some recordings I know can't sound like the real thing. I was listening to a recording of Tibor Varga yesterday that I'm almost certain no real violin sounds like. Isabelle Faust is possibly my favorite modern violinist, but I hope her violin doesn't sound as metallic-edgy on the high end as it does on some of the recordings I have.

May 4, 2009 at 02:32 AM ·

Agree with you, Michael. Often people are looking for the sound they heard from the recordings during violin shopping. I guess that's a pretty misleading way?

And I guess my experiences matched yours too, recordings didn't capture that woody-ness and the big surround sound that heard in person. Often there's the sizzles and zings all over, but not so when hearing in person.

May 4, 2009 at 02:35 AM ·


Very good point!  If you'll permit me to make a very bad analogy.  Shopping for a violin based on recorded CD's is like searching for a wife based on Playboy magazine.  Hopefully, I don't get booted from for that statement.  :-)

May 4, 2009 at 02:40 AM ·

Smiley - How true! LOL

May 13, 2009 at 06:49 AM ·

Luis, she said in her video that it's a del gesu?

May 18, 2009 at 01:09 AM ·

I would usually avoid subjective topics like these... but whatever. :)

(Violins are too subjective, so for violinists...)

Christian Ferras is at the top of my list.

The following are in no particular order...

Sarah Chang for her outrageous G string capabilities.

Michael Rabin for his fire and amazing staccato.

Perlman... everytime I hear him play, I think of something really fatty, oily, and juicey--a good comfort food. I just can't get over how buttery his sound is.

Hilary Hahn for her super-super-clear/consistent tone. Love her Bach performances.

Can't forget Kreisler... his playing is just so charming.

May 18, 2009 at 01:24 AM ·


from your list I thought you mnight like Hassid as well.  The chocolate after the donut perhaps?



May 18, 2009 at 02:28 AM ·

I know the thread started with violin, but I heard Kim Kashkashian play the Bartok viola concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra last year and I believe she was using her Greiner viola. I was amazed by her playing and her viola - it was the best viola sound I have ever heard, very clean, clear, and singing throughout, never harsh or nasally up high as sometimes happens even with nice violas.

May 18, 2009 at 03:27 AM ·

Oh wow. Definitely. After hearing Hassid play Meditation, I feel a buzz in my head from that insane vibrato. Thanks Stephen :D

May 18, 2009 at 04:11 AM ·


this probably sounds a touch weird but there is one recording of Hassid that I =cannot- nbear lsitenign to:  Achron`s Hebrew Melody.  Everytime I put it on I get such strong mental imagery of concerntartin camps I have to stop it.

Incidnetally,  although Hassid`s Meditions is out of this world I still prefer the Kreisler version.  I think this piece can only hold so much intenstiy and Kreisler caught it exactly. The other gorgeous Meditation is by Elman.



May 18, 2009 at 04:12 AM ·

September 16, 2009 at 05:05 PM ·

Hmmm... I love the Milstein Strad.  Maybe the most powerful 'dark' sounding violin?

I didn't read all the posts, but did anyone mention Maxim Vengerov's Strad?  I'm pretty sure it's a Strad... It is the clearest sounding, fastest-responding instruments out of the 'ancients' that I have heard.

And to Royce Faina's post:  I tend to have a hard time warming up to really deep sounding violins.. but you said old man Amati in general...  If you don't know it, you MUST consider Gidon Kremer on his 1642... it was stunning when I saw him live.  It swirled around the room like the night itself...  I would recommend typing in 'Kremer Bach' on YouTube.  Just choose the first couple for a sample.

Jesse B

September 17, 2009 at 02:48 PM ·

Thanks, I'll check it out!

September 17, 2009 at 02:58 PM ·

WOW!  I have a new hero to add to my growing & glowing collection!  His Chaconne; Partita #2 d minor is one of the best that I've heard so far!  I must confess, I loved the sound of his violin also.  I bet he and it were incredible live!

His 1642 is a what?  Strad, Amati, Del Gesu, etc.,?

September 17, 2009 at 06:11 PM ·

Just a single stand-out instrument for me, head and shoulders above the rest--  I may have spellings wrong, and VERY sorry I don't know generations well enough (father, son....).  I trust someone here can set the details straight:

The ex-Liebkowitz Amati (I heard it live eight feet away on stage played by Rachel Barton).

Best violin ever.  Endless deeps.  I cried over it on stage during the performance about a decade ago when then Rachel Barton (now also Pine) came and played Berg violin concerto, followed by an encore (perfect, and perfect choice !!!) of Bach slow mt. (Andante) from the a minor sonata 2 of the S&P's.   OMG OMG OMG

Not so long ago, I looked into details on some more recent recordings and performances by Ms. RBP, and I was shocked to see that they were with a different instrument....  I can't imagine any violinist choosing another over that one.  They seemed so good together.  Did she really? Or had it been only on loan to her, or anyone know what's happened with it, where the ex-Liebkowitz is now?

September 19, 2009 at 02:12 PM ·

 My cup of tea is Szeryng with his Leduc 1743 Guarneri del Gesu.

December 28, 2009 at 10:21 PM ·

An anecdote which probably took place in 1977:

The mother of a student of Christian Ferras - who by then had the dubious pleasure of making students cry in his class (detailed in another thread, I think) - made a passing comment :"with a strad in hand, it is normal that you have a beautiful sound in your demonstration".

Little did she know, probably, that Ferras suffered for years of inferiority complex in the 50's, of having to play in concerts with a modern (prob. French) violin painted like a Guarnerius, while Ferras senior boasted to the whole world that it was a genuine Guarnerius...  Most music critics fell for that trick, but not the dealer Vatelot who once went backstage and asked, after a concert, to inspect the instrument...  The young Ferras - very embarassed as you can imagine - lied to say: "the violin is no longer here"...

Back to the violin class: Ferras picked up the modest violin of the student, and played with a full-bodied powerful tone.  After that incident, Ferras didn't bring his violin to class anymore...

Morale of the story: the sound comes from the violinist, not the violin...

I thank Hilary Hahn not only for her great music, but also for her unswerving fidelity to her Vuillaume.  She's a living proof to me that the sound indeed comes from the violinist, not the violin.


December 28, 2009 at 10:36 PM ·

Other than that I have always been amazed with Oistrakh with his G String - always sounds like he has stolen the cello from Rostropovich for a while.  Oh sorry I should probably say Oistrakh sul G  - David with his G string is such a horrid image......  so much better off sticking to his tuxedos.

But after this thread I will go hunt for some records of Sarah Chang to see who is better with the G String...

December 29, 2009 at 08:55 PM ·

"Morale of the story: the sound comes from the violinist, not the violin..."

"Sound" is a result of the interaction of two complex systems: The player with his skills, and the instrument.

NO player, not even Mutter or Perlman, could play the Brahms concert on a cheap violin and be heared. You need the car and the driver, that's all.

(I just found an old french violin with a wonderful sound. But It's just too weak to be played even with only my piano player. So I need my main violin when I'm not playing alone)

December 29, 2009 at 09:46 PM ·

Tobias wrote:

<<"Sound" is a result of the interaction of two complex systems: The player with his skills, and the instrument.">>

So true!. But do not forget that the instrument is made of two parts: the violin and the bow. Try to play an old italian with a $35 bow and hear what you get!


December 29, 2009 at 09:46 PM ·

I can't think of any sound that I find excellent for a violinist born after approximately 1915. My favorites are Kreisler, Ysaye, Thibaud, and many others of that generation. 

December 30, 2009 at 03:27 AM ·

On the (violin) G-String in recent days... Friedman, Amoyal, Repin and... Didier Lockwood... From old days "mister H"  himself...  For instance Ferras, Rabin, Francescatti, Huberman, Seidel "et al..."  Charah Sang in the "other" G-String doesn't match Vanessa Mae... 'Nuff said...


December 30, 2009 at 05:11 AM ·

My favorites would be in this order. Heifetz and his Guarneri, Kreisler and his Guarneri,

Milstein and his Strad, Elman and his Strad, and Kogan, Anything he played on.


December 30, 2009 at 04:23 PM ·

The "Dushkin" late Del Gésú is an incredible violin, with "wild and animal sound", and it´s not only the player (Pinchas Zuckermann) but the violin, even in hands less "compétent", for me it´s the best fiddle I have hear so far.

A good couple!

December 30, 2009 at 08:44 PM ·

I have mentioned Vadim Gluzman here, I saw him in a recital with his wife pianist last September in NYC, but I saw him again here with our State Orchestra playing Bernstein`s Serenade After Plato`s Symposium.....   he produces the most beautifull sound I have ever heard!!!

December 30, 2009 at 10:28 PM ·

Heifetz, on his del Gesu (I think it was a del Gesu?), Sarah chang on her del Gesu, and Joshua Bell on a strad.

Oistrakh's sound is nice too, but for melodic tunes, I like Chang, Heifetz, and Bell better.

December 31, 2009 at 11:08 AM ·

To me, the most beautiful and powefull violin sounds were those of David Oistrakh, Seidel,

Elman, Igor Politkovsky and Eduard Grach.

January 1, 2010 at 02:02 PM ·

Going outside the Genre of this discussion, but Charlie Daniels and the current violin he is using.  The one he recorded the original, "Devil went Down to Georgia".

Mark O'Connor and the violin he uses on the album, "Appalachian Journey".

January 4, 2010 at 09:38 PM ·


Mark O'Connor I can see, but, Charlie Daniels, really?  I'll have to give him another listen...or have they been spiking the coffee down at Coal Creek?

February 15, 2010 at 01:44 AM ·

Janine Jansen- Strad "Barrere"

perfect.  : )

February 15, 2010 at 05:36 AM ·

 cho liang lin and the titian strad hands down!

February 15, 2010 at 04:33 PM ·

There are so many greats that my favorites change often. Here are the current ones:

Oistrakh - Such power and authority. Whenever I hear him I'm riveted.

Perlman - Sweet & buttery smooth, like Swiss chocolate

Hahn - My absolute favorite Bach



February 16, 2010 at 12:42 PM ·

Has anyone mentioned the Jupiter Strad???? I think midori plays that one

February 21, 2010 at 04:53 AM ·

Midori played the Jupiter Strad quite a long time ago.  Now she plays a Guarneri del Gesu. 

Regarding really good sounding instruments in the right hands that I have heard LIVE (listed in no special order).

1.  Henryk Szeryng playing the 1745 LeDuc Del Gesu. 

2. Aaron Rosand playing the 1741 Kochanski del Gesu. 

3.  Zino Framcescatti on a 1727 Stradivari.

4.  Paganini's 1743 del Gesu.  I heard this in New York in 1994.  HUGE sound.  Quite unbelievable and I would not have believed it had I not heard it with my own ears.   The fame of the violin is supported by the reality of the sound.

March 3, 2010 at 03:51 AM ·

Most memorable violinist, Michael Rabin, RFH in 1968-or 69.  Tchiakovsy with the RLPO. I was in the band and Rabin stood in for Milstein who had a last minute accident. He was sensational, the sound seemed to float out of the violin with no effort.  Even the brass were stunned!

Best modern violin,, Leyland Chen on a Glen Collins.

Best tone story, Heifetz in the green room after a concert. Gushing admirer says " Mr Heifetz, your violin has a beautiful tone"  Heifetz addresses his violin, "Hear that,  you have a beautiful tone"

March 4, 2010 at 12:44 AM ·

Perlman playing his 1714 Soil Strad (Ex-Menuhin)

March 4, 2010 at 08:00 AM ·

ZINO  FRANCESCATTI (a.k.a: ZFR) playing the LvB (abridged version) at PDFS, with the OMS (now renamed OPS, I know it might sound confusing); He was just back from a concert with the BSO (Bosnia sinf.) and was scheduled with the OMG (orch.municip.Grenoble) a few days later under ROFL (Rafael Obadia Felipe Lopez)

April 27, 2010 at 03:53 AM ·

The Heifetz story (I've also heard it attributed to Kreisler) is that a fan gushed after a concert "Oh, Mr. Heifetz, your Guarnerius has never sounded more beautiful."  At this point, Heifetz opens his case, gets out the Guarneri, holds it up to his ear, and says "Funny, I don't hear anything" or words to that effect.

The instrument has to be one the player can use most effectively as a tool.  Answering the question, I always admired the sounds of any great player.  In their own ways, Heifetz, Stern, Francescatti, and Milstein all had highly distinctive sounds.  Younger players must have been taught differently--I find them much harder to tell apart.  That said, my favorites in the under-40 crowd are Vadim Repin and Hilary Hahn. 

May 6, 2010 at 09:33 PM ·

 My favorite violinists are Philippe Hirschhorn, Josef Hasid,  Dovid Oistrakh  & Perlman.  I also agree that it is the violinist and 'not' the violin which is the determining factor when it comes to tone production, as both Jaime Laredo & Cho-Liang Lin state, "It's the player, not the instrument that makes the sound" & "A great layer can make [even] a cigar box sound great." (pg 58; "Got Tone", by Sarah Freiberg, in Strings Magazine; October 2003.)

May 6, 2010 at 09:50 PM ·

John Fadial with the 1786 Pietro Mantegazza-Millan-Gramcino, Testore!!!!!

May 7, 2010 at 12:03 AM ·

 "A great layer can make [even] a cigar box sound great." 

-- rubbish!!

May 7, 2010 at 02:03 AM ·

""A great layer can make [even] a cigar box sound great." 

-- rubbish!!"

But wouldn't be fun to test it?  How would Perlman sound if he played on my violin :)


May 8, 2010 at 04:52 PM ·

I am not a great layer (of eggs ??), but on a good day I like to think I can sound OK on my Lucci violin. Such fantasies are the carrot on the stick, drawing us ever onwards.

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

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

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

2023 Authenticate LA: Los Angeles Violin Shop
2023 Authenticate LA Shopping Guide Shopping Guide


Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian 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