viola recordings & performers

January 7, 2009 at 07:20 PM ·

So please bear with another doubler. I would like to add to my skimpy collection of recordings of well-known viola pieces & viola players, for my own enjoyment & education, and to lend to up & coming kid-violists. If you own or know of viola recordings you would recommend (or avoid), would you post ideas here? Thanks much, Sue 

Replies (27)

January 7, 2009 at 07:22 PM ·

Sue, we're all part of the family, here. In fact, Robert (the technical half of was once a violist., and he actually agreed to marry me, a violinist. So please, feel free in listing favorite viola recordings!

January 7, 2009 at 09:37 PM ·

I really like the Brahms viola/clarinet sonatas.  My favorite recording is the Zuckerman/Neikrug set, and that CD also features the Two Songs for Vla, Piano, and Alto, which is some of the most beautiful music ever written.  Period.

I also like Nigel Kennedy's recording of the Walton concerto. 

And there is always the Bartok concerto too.

January 8, 2009 at 12:34 AM ·

So you're saying the violas can't seem to get it together? :P

Sorry, it was a cheap shot but I couldn't resist.

In all seriousness -- try the Colgrass Chaconne, which my orch just performed with a very good soloist.  That is some sick (in the good way) viola playing.

January 8, 2009 at 12:33 AM ·

Aside Anne 's  list of viola recording, Roberto Diaz made a recording of Primrose Viola Transcriptions, about a year or so ago. It's great because they're violin piece transcribe to viola and the La Campanella track is awesome!

Hope it helps.

January 8, 2009 at 01:12 AM ·

All  Primrose recordings are good, there's a very popular one that inclues the Handel/cassadesus and Walton concertos as well as several short pieces including Dvorak Humeresque and Schubert Litany (imo these are where you really get to hear Promrose's beautiful tone).

Anything recorded by Nabuko Imai, Kim KashKashian, Yuri Bashmet, Tabea Zimmerman, Yitzahk Schotten, or Lawrence Power is a pretty safe bet for a good sound and interpretation.

If you want an awesome recording of the Stamitz concerto there is a Tabea Zimmerman recording on a CD called "The Concerto in Europe" the rest of the CD is unfortunately not viola music but it's well-worth it for an amazing recording of the Stamitz.

I could go on (I'm primarily a violist and have a farily large viola CD collection for a college student) but this should be enough to get started.

January 8, 2009 at 01:30 AM ·

I can offer two of my favorites -

1.  Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-Flat, K.64 - Primrose, Heifetz & RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra

2.  Handel's Passacaglia (No 6. Harpichord Suite No. 7) - Primrose and Heifetz

I ordered The Primrose: Viola Transcriptions (Diaz & Koenig) - I hear the recordings are quite good and look forward to receiving the CD.  I belive Diaz plays on the 1595 Amati Primrose owned for the recording.

I hope that is of some help, Valerie

January 8, 2009 at 02:57 AM ·


Some things to add to the list...

- The Sinfonia Concertante with Perlman and Zukerman

- The Mozart Duos with Gidon Kremer and Kim Kashkashian

- The Bartok Concerto with Zukerman

- There is a new recording of some works by Hummel for Viola recorded by James Ehnes which is beautiful.  There is also some small pieces with three different violas in that Homage to the Fulton Collection DVD.

Hope this helps as well.


January 8, 2009 at 07:01 AM ·

 Lillian Fuch's Bach Cello Suites!

January 8, 2009 at 09:35 AM · is the website of a record label directed by Diederik Suys, viola section leader in the opera orchestra here in Paris. 

January 8, 2009 at 03:51 PM ·

this site is definitely a great resource for violists,  there is also a fairly active viola list at Yahoo groups


Violist Patricia McCarty has a nice website with some useful tidbits, like articles on warming up, orchestral auditions,  and one called 'Alto Clef for Violinists' 

January 8, 2009 at 03:53 PM ·

This makes me miss Blake, our violist who got accepted to Juliard! He always had good Viola music sugestions. Look up Blake Newman here and read his input.

January 8, 2009 at 04:11 PM ·

An interesting recording is Yuri Bashmet's performance of the Schnittke viola concerto.  In an interview Bashmet called the concerto a "genius work," so it's probably worth knowing.  At the same time I'd say it might be a bit on the intense side to use with children.

I also like the Lawrence Power recording of the Walton viola concerto.

January 8, 2009 at 04:58 PM ·

I wanted to add:

Zukerman performed the Telemann Viola Concerto in G Major, though not sure if there is a recording of it?  Wonderful to see that!  Perhaps someone knows if he recorded it?

Please do let me know. 

January 8, 2009 at 05:41 PM ·

Hyperion Records has released a recording of York Bowen's  works for viola:

including his Fantasia for 4 Violas; interesting!  Bowen's name came up a lot as a composer in the Tertis biography I read recently.

I haven't heard the recording, except for the clips available at the above link, so I can't speak for its quality.

Larry S.

January 8, 2009 at 05:55 PM ·

Several things:

-Valerie, has Zuckerman's Telemann concerto.

-Sue, if you have a Naxos subscription, you can search, and listen to, pieces by instrument.  There are many viola recordings!  Naxos also has the Diaz recordings.

-Isn't it cute that the Yahoo viola group fights about shoulder rests too?

January 8, 2009 at 05:56 PM ·

Bach solo suites performed by Patricia McCarty on viola

Mozart Trio for viola clarinet & piano in E flat major

Bach gamba sonatas

Max Bruch trios for viola clarinet & piano, Romance for viola, concerto for viola and clarinet (!)

An intriguing recording which I haven't heard:

Hindemith sonatas for solo viola, der Schwanendreher, Trauermusik

Shostakovich sonata for viola and piano (his last work)

Ligeti sonata for solo viola

This recording by Tabea Zimmermann includes the sublime horn trio (vn, horn, piano) and some wonderful music for winds:

Luciano Berio Sequenza VI for solo viola

January 8, 2009 at 07:37 PM ·

Violist Timothy Deighton has a CD called "Viola Aotearoa". Extracts of different tracks can be heard at 

I have Garth Knox's CD "works for solo viola" which has the Ligeti solo sonata and the Berio Sequenza VI (Naïve label)


January 8, 2009 at 08:07 PM ·

And then there's Scott Slapin, who has recorded the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for violin on the viola, and his recording of the Paganin 24 Caprices played on the viola. (!) 

Larry S.

January 8, 2009 at 08:14 PM ·


 I used to listen to an LP at my local music library of Zukerman playing the Telemann, Stamitz D-major & Casadesus viola concerti with the English Chamber Orchestra. It's listed as out of print ("Pinchas Zukerman Plays and Conducts Viola Concertos")but there is also a currently available CD of him playing it with the St. Paul Orchestra

January 8, 2009 at 08:46 PM ·

 If you go to and click on "viola list" you can join the viola list yahoo group. It's a listserv, not a site like, but you'll find a lot of passionate violists, professionals and amateurs. 

January 8, 2009 at 10:37 PM ·

OMG: They (Viola Yahoo group) sound so much like us! Laurie is right, the string family is a family!!!!!

January 8, 2009 at 11:04 PM ·

Please forgive me Viola Gods.....

My favorite recording of the Bartok viola concerto is Yo Yo Ma, playing a "vertical viola" on his New York Album.  His playing is stunning!!!!

January 9, 2009 at 05:48 AM ·

As much as admire Yo-Yo Ma I must say his Bartok is my least favorite recording. But I highly recommend Kim Kashkashian and Tabea Zimmermann. Listen to the great violists, you'll hear the difference!

January 9, 2009 at 05:59 AM ·

There at least used to be a yahoo group for violists. 


January 9, 2009 at 01:23 PM ·

Don't forget Ori Kam, either.  I found this just last night, to me it proves that it's possible to achieve the same beauty and intensity of tone, standards of legato and conviction in interpretation on the viola as you can on the violin - though in general I'm disappointed by relative standards of viola playing.

January 9, 2009 at 07:24 PM ·


Thank you so much for the references, I appreciate it!


January 10, 2009 at 08:21 PM ·

I'd also recommend the CD "A Portrait of the Viola" by Helen Callus (viola) and Robert McDonald (piano). It features the Rebecca Clarke Sonata plus other shorter works by this composer along with a Viola Sonata by Pamela Harbison. 

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