Bartók Solo Sonata Recordings

March 5, 2004 at 06:50 AM · I would be so grateful if someone could recommend a really good recording of this piece.

Actually, I would prefer a clean, rhythmic, "boring" recording to an artistically innovative one.

But please, give me your recommendations and tell me why you like them.

Replies (22)

March 5, 2004 at 06:53 AM · Hi, wow, what a great, infinitely impossible sounding piece. I've only heard Leila Joscefowitz's recording, but it impressed the heck out of me.

March 5, 2004 at 08:32 AM · Josefowicz recording is brilliant I have to say.


March 5, 2004 at 09:15 AM · Josefowicz plays great but skippes the quarter tones, and tend to be Percussive.

For a clean recording I would go for Mullova,

A faithful to Bartok's Intentions, Pauk (almost free on Naxos), and Schneeberger

Historically, Menuhin or Ricci (both way out of tune)

Tetzlaff have a good recording (quite virtuosic) Kennedy plays interesting but forces his tone a times, Gitlis is fun but excentric.

Zehetmair has played it very impressive live so his recoring will be interesting.

I'm sure that i've missed some but...

March 5, 2004 at 10:36 AM · Thanks, Mattias, for your in-depth reviews! I'll definitely check them out.

So far everyone has recommended Josefowicz. I have this recording and must confess that it drives me round the bend. It's so unstructured and out of tune :( or maybe I'm just crazy.

March 5, 2004 at 11:36 AM · Greetings,

I love the Gitlis version. Hasn"t kovacik whatshisname recorded this rather well?



March 5, 2004 at 01:11 PM · Who?

March 5, 2004 at 01:55 PM · Mullova's is damn near perfect and wonderful.

Menuhin recorded it twice; I like one of the recordings very much.

Gitlis has a pretty crazy recording. Not always technically secure but that guy definitely had style.

Robert Mann and Lorand Fenyves are both authorities on the piece but I don't know if they have recordings of it out. They both strongly insist on adhering to the original, not the edition with the Menuhin revisions. There are a bunch of places with different notes and in the intro to the last movement Bartok has written quarter tones which Menuhin does not have in his edition. The original is not available to purchase anywhere but you can get it if you know someone who happens to have a copy of it. Menuhin worked with Bartok closely on this piece so his edition, though it deviates from the original, can also be considered true.

March 5, 2004 at 10:14 PM · Hi.

Do you go by Cora? Cora Venus?

You know who has a GREAT Bartok Solo Sonata that you don't hear about too much is Isabelle Faust. On this piece she's my favorite so far. If you listen to her, I would like to know what you think.

March 6, 2004 at 12:13 AM · Menuhin and Gertler should be the most historically accurate as both violinists were friends of the composer (not to mention the fact that Menuhin performed it for Bartok who wrote it for him, and loved his performance of the sonata). Gitlis has also recorded a wonderful version of the work.

March 6, 2004 at 08:15 PM · I love Isabelle Faust for Bartok! She is one of the most under rated violinists I can think of, great tone and a very natural sence of ideas about the music.

I also liked Mullova and Gitlis

You can also get Ricci playing the solo Bartok on video: "ricci on tv vol 2" at

Its good to know someone else noticed Joscefowitz plays out of tune

March 7, 2004 at 01:58 AM · ah, those quarter tones never really clicked in my head, so it always sounds sort of out of tune. THere is an audible difference when its done right as opposed to wrong, of course. My teacher played a brilliant bartok solo a while back, i doubt anybody recorded it though.

March 9, 2004 at 07:00 AM · Steven,do you mean Ernst kovacic?i only heard him once in concert and his Mozart nr 5 was exellent.

Another truly fantastic version of the Bartok solo sonata is by Tatiana Grindenko and this is as close to perfection you can ever get.Amazing playing,the only sad thing is that the recording is pretty rare and i got it from an old melodiya LP.I think i will try to persuade Mr Harnoy,director of DOREMI records to make a CD release of it.

cheers, jorgen

March 9, 2004 at 10:09 AM · Greetings,

glad you are still around Jorgen. Yep, that is who I meant. I have only heard a couple of recordings of him but he seems a very underrated player to me,



March 9, 2004 at 11:04 AM · Jorgen: please, try to made Mr.Hardoy publish the recordings of DFO from the 30s and 40s, and the Enescu violin sonatas by Enescu-Lipatti!!!

March 9, 2004 at 09:27 PM · Greetings,

Carlos, I am an Enescu fan. Do you know any obscure recordings or works of his that slip under the radar?



February 13, 2012 at 08:43 PM · I know it's a rather old topic but i've just been listening to Matthew Trusler's playing of this Sonata

February 19, 2012 at 10:46 AM · Menuhin's earlier recording is magical.

Barati's is clean, forceful and expressive, and he chooses the original quarter-tones in the last movement, which he plays brilliantly.

February 19, 2012 at 01:22 PM · ivry

December 3, 2012 at 08:09 PM · Is there anyone out there that knows the piece and has played the last movement using the quarter tones and has advice about how to approach them, fingerings, etc.? When I first learned the piece back in 1970 I used the Menuhin version. I figured it is about time I performed it correctly. Thanks

December 7, 2012 at 06:45 AM · Try using separate fingers for each quarter-tone, (lifting them as you go along!) Sliding them just makes an unconvincing mess..

December 7, 2012 at 09:55 PM · An old original posting, but let's update with a couple more names thrown in the ring - Gyorgy Pauk (who has also recorded Bartok's 44 Duos for 2 violins, BB104), and, as an optional companion piece, Antonin Novak playing Haba's Fantasy for solo violin Op 9a (quarter tone).

Both Pauk and Novak play the quarter tones in these two ultra-difficult solo sonatas with consumate ease.

December 7, 2012 at 10:17 PM · My favorite recording of this piece is on the 2L label with Annar Folleso, enjoy!

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