Best Tchaikovsy Recording??

July 16, 2004 at 05:10 AM · Hello! I have begun learning the Tchaik! I need recommendations for listening. Thanks!

Replies (94)

July 16, 2004 at 05:20 AM · When I worked on the Tchaikovsky I found that I associated to David Oistrakh's playing. I love his interpretation.

So I would recomend David Oistrakh


July 16, 2004 at 05:44 AM · I second Oistrakh!!

July 16, 2004 at 11:08 AM · 0istrakh recorded Tch.12 times, so you can choose. Besides, there must exist a hundred versions more of it. Its a difficult election!

July 16, 2004 at 12:30 PM · Oistrakh with Konwichny (pardon the spelling please) is incredible. I also love Stern, Szeryng (the Szeryng is actually on VHS), Kogan, and Zukerman.

July 16, 2004 at 12:53 PM · Kogan's is the first Tchaikovsky concerto recording I have ever listened too, and I compared it to others and found this is the best recording hands down. Every detail in his playing is perfect. The way he builds up the momentum in the piece, he brings it to life. No one can play this concerto like he can. Others come close, but not anywhere near him. When you listen to him play this, it will be a whole new concerto. Can't say enough...

July 16, 2004 at 02:54 PM · Oistrakh!

July 16, 2004 at 04:33 PM · Mariko Honda

July 16, 2004 at 05:16 PM · Gil Shaham!!!

July 16, 2004 at 06:03 PM · Isaac Stern w/Philadelphia and Gidon Kremer w/Berlin. Note: Even though I think these are the best, I have yet to find a "definitive" Tchaik. Good luck!

July 16, 2004 at 08:35 PM · the best recoridngs of tchaikovsky are heifetz, rosand, oistrakh, and haendel for sure

July 16, 2004 at 08:37 PM · I have a recording with Heifetz playing it. I found it that Heifetz wanted to see how fast he could actually play the piece; taking away the true feel and emotion of the piece.

I heard Gil Shaham play it live about a year ago and I heard a recording of him playing it and I think it is by far the best...

July 16, 2004 at 09:44 PM · I actually really like the Stern recording with Bernstein and New York Phil. A lot of stern recordings are good but this was extremely good, its what i grew up listening too. But i can't argue with Oistrakh, is there any way possible to beat Oistrakh? I really dont think so. hes tooo goood! so definately Stern and Oistrakh, you cannot go wrong!

July 16, 2004 at 09:46 PM · Kogan, Oistrakh, and Perlman's first recording. I also like Mischa Elman's version. A bit slower than some, but the lyric sections are nice (go for the 1929 recording, when he is still near his peak and has more solid technique.)

July 16, 2004 at 10:04 PM · i second kogan oistrakh and perlman

July 16, 2004 at 11:39 PM · Gil Shaham. Very passionate playing!

July 17, 2004 at 12:26 AM · Sarah Chang's recording of this concerto is one of my personal favorites, simply for the clarity with which she performs. It's one of those rare recordings where you can almost read the music as you listen to it.


July 17, 2004 at 02:43 AM · David Oistrakh's recording is really good, the pearlman comes in second.

July 17, 2004 at 07:14 AM · Although it's been said a lot, an Oistrakh recording should definitely be owned, simply because he tends to be best in most things and plays with irreproachable good taste, tone and technique.

Heifetz is also very good, but I prefer Kogan (with Silvestri, though the recording with Vandernoot is good too).


July 17, 2004 at 01:01 PM · My favorite is the live recording of Oistrakh from his 60 birthday concert. Very moving. Kogans is different but excellent too.

July 17, 2004 at 06:03 PM · Yes Patrick, I have that disc!! Really phenomenal!!! I really really love it...and Vengerov signed it for me too :D Pity he doesn't play so nicely live :( I think he's one of those dice and splice artists. I mean, he can play very nicely live, but not nearly as well as his CDs, which are phenomenal!

It would be hard for me to choose between my Perlman and Vengerov and Oistrakh Tchaikovsky recordings....probably Oistrakh's is the best, but I like all of them VERY much!

July 18, 2004 at 04:46 PM · Ya, Oistrakh with Dresden Staatskappelle is really good. I really like Mutter's as well, it's so gorgeous! Sigh...I must go listen to it now.

July 18, 2004 at 09:08 PM · Oistrakh and Kogan's recordings are the best, to me.

July 19, 2004 at 01:01 AM · My favourite is an early (1951 I think) Kogan rendition. Heifetz' early recordnig is brilliant but his sound doesn't come across as well as Kogan's - I suspect because Heifetz was further from the microphone than Kogan. Oistrakh is also very good.

September 20, 2004 at 08:53 PM · Sarah Chang when she was twelve. That recording blows me away. 12???? She sounds like a real master violinist and of course, she was a prodigy but i couldn't believe it when i had heard it. She gave a performance in Hawaii here when she was 12 of the Tchaikovsy(i wasn't old enough at the time to realize that it was her) and my teacher raves about it a lot and from what i hear, her live performance was flawless!

September 20, 2004 at 09:43 PM · sean got it, perlman kogan and oistrakh. heifetz is fun to listen to but i wouldnmt use it to study

September 20, 2004 at 10:09 PM · Yeah I forgot... Oistrakh is definetly tied with Kogan for NO.1, Perlman is up there too. I aggree with Owen, Heifetz's recording is very fun to listen to, but not for a guide.(specially the way he rushes through the slow passages). Anne-sophie Mutter played absolutely, stunningly, in her old recording. The only problem was Karajan and the entire Vienna Phil falling asleep during the whole dang performance. His slow, luxurious, style of conducting, definetly did'nt work for the Tchaikovsky.

Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, yes, but not Tchaikovsky. Her new recording with Previn, should prove to be a much more synchronated, and sharper, performance. And would definetly stand shoulder to shoulder, with all the other past greats.

September 20, 2004 at 11:49 PM · Greetings,

awesome though they are, the Heifetz Tchiakovsky are not my favorite, that`s just a quesiton of taste though.

I am however, just a little dubious of putting lables like `rush` on Heifetz` playing. To rush implies a lack of control. Of all violinsts in hostory Heifetz had the most complete capabiltiy for choosing exactly what he wanted to do for better or worse. The tempos and -rubato- he opted for love them or hate them, are his musical choices.



September 21, 2004 at 12:08 AM · I never said I did'nt like Heifet'z recording of the Tchaikovsky, it's very special, and remains one of my supreme favorites. But his tempos (mainly in the first movement) just did'nt sit well with me. When I said "rush", I was speaking figuratively. But, I still don't like the idea of using his recording as a guide to perform it. I found Kogan, Oistrakh, Perlman, are definetly the recordings to live by, when learning the Tchaikovsky.

September 21, 2004 at 12:58 AM · Andre Rieu!! (just kidding). I like almost any recording of this concerto (except my own...)

September 21, 2004 at 02:53 AM · Perlman

September 21, 2004 at 07:19 AM · Definitely oistrach.


September 21, 2004 at 07:35 AM · OOOOIIIISSSTTTTRRAAAAKKKKHHH!!!!!!

September 21, 2004 at 08:58 AM · Milstein's first and second recordings (Chicago, Boston)and, of course Huberman.Gitlis made a wonderful recording in the 50ies, and there are a couple of "live". As far as Heifetz is concerned, my favorite version is his second, the one with Susskind. thanks, she just doesn't get into the spirit of this music...

September 21, 2004 at 03:16 PM · you are very right buri, there is an excitement in going fast, and i think heifetz valued that in general more than poise and rubato, but it was a very concious choice

September 21, 2004 at 08:33 PM · kogan who else

September 21, 2004 at 09:16 PM · Buri and Owen,

I'm going to respectfully disagree about the Heifetz recording. What I find so amazing about that recording is how beautiful it is even at the zippy tempi. Particularly in the first movement, the lighting quickness gives it, to my ear, a heart-rendingly ephemeral quality. I find it one of the most touching recordings there is.

September 21, 2004 at 10:17 PM · i didnt say it wasnt beautiful, its a matter of priorities, but the goal is always beauty

September 21, 2004 at 11:46 PM · Greetings,

Jude, I am not sure what we are disagreeing about....;)

I have -nothing- bad to say about the Heifetz reocrdings (except one of them) . They are just not my first choice for listenign any more. But were I to sit down and put them on the player I would certainly have my jaw dropped around my ankles as is usual when listening to the master at work,



September 22, 2004 at 12:07 AM · I think Kogan's is the best by far.

September 22, 2004 at 03:16 AM · Buri,

Rereading your posts, I see we don't disagree. That's just Owen... sorry. And you're right: it is completely a matter of taste.

September 22, 2004 at 03:42 AM · Greetings. No apology called for. I jsut wanted to make sure that my view on Heifetz stayed compos mentis. I can certainly find performances of his I dislike, but I wouldn`t dare criticize them on any grounds except my personal preference. No violnist has ever known more clealry what he wished to do and convey. It is the labels like rushing or pulling around that need scrutiny I think. Listen to a passage that gets faster from a lesser palyer and that is incompetence. With Heifetz the proportion of speeding up (for a musical purpose) is flawless.



September 22, 2004 at 06:40 AM · Although Kogan, Perlman, Heifetz etc are excellent, I think Oistrakh excels in this piece.


September 22, 2004 at 08:52 AM · lol its me i guess. just out of curiosity what did i say that you disagreed with?

September 22, 2004 at 10:23 PM · I didnt like the Tchaikovsky concerto until I heard Heifetz playing it. WOW! The way he plays this piece makes it sound like he wrote it.

Heifetz rules O.K



September 24, 2004 at 01:45 PM · ...the rabin recording is also wonderful

and theres a dvd/vhs with perlman from japan i got off ebay

September 24, 2004 at 04:45 PM · definitely Oistrakh (David and Igor), Midori waas disappointing, if you mind an unusually slow reading, the Mutter/Karajan of 1988 is very beautiful, Heifetz is too fast, Stern is marvelous (just the right pacing - but mono sound),

and Sarah Chang's early recording with Colin davis is excellent.

That should keep you folks for a while.... :)

September 24, 2004 at 04:48 PM · Oops, I meant, if you don't mind an unusually slow recording (about Mutter/Karajan). I certainly didn't - but then I'm the world's biggest Karajan fan.

September 24, 2004 at 05:38 PM · My two favorites on this piece are Milstein and Kogan.

September 24, 2004 at 08:26 PM · I like Shaham, Oistrakh, and Heifetz with Barbirolli.

February 16, 2005 at 12:37 AM · Try the Francescatti (the one on Sony). He's the Rodney Dangerfield of violinists. He just don't get no respect. But the performance is great. It just sparkles, from beginning to end. And there are some passages here and there that he plays better than ANYONE else.

February 16, 2005 at 12:52 AM · I'd have to say I love Oistrakh's interpretation the best.

February 16, 2005 at 01:25 AM · Heifetz, of course!

February 16, 2005 at 02:13 AM · Greetings,

I was just flipping thorugh this so I may have missed it. But the Huberman recording is well worth exploring,



February 16, 2005 at 02:29 AM · A second vote here for Milstein/Chicago/Stock. Perfect.

February 16, 2005 at 03:50 AM · Oistrakh for sure! His recording with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra is awesome!

February 16, 2005 at 04:15 AM · I go for Kogan - IMO better than Oistrakh's recording.

February 16, 2005 at 04:18 AM · I agree with Adam!

February 16, 2005 at 04:52 AM · Don't listen to just one recording. Listen to many many different recordings.


February 16, 2005 at 07:50 AM · Preston,

I'll do you one better, but take my star for your response. Don't listen to ANY recordings until you have really learned the piece. Study the score. Study the markings in your part. Look at different editions by different violinists and try to figure out why they did their fingerings and bowings. Spend some time with the piece trying to figure out the big picture: where the big sections go and how they resolve or continue. What are the main notes in each section? When you can answer those questions, and have learned all the notes in tune, studied the rhythm and tempo markings, etc., then listen to as many recordings as you can get your hands on. ;)

(if we all did this, it would be the demise of Suzuki!)


February 16, 2005 at 07:30 PM · do not get stuck in other people's mannerisms. Play the music as it is written till your violin breaks ;)

listening to heifetz recording and copying, for example, is not good for someone that is just learning it. its hard to avoid using peoples mannerisms when you listen to recordings...fight it

February 16, 2005 at 09:38 PM · Elman's first recording is a hoot.

February 17, 2005 at 03:20 AM · Lisa,

That's also a great approach, though I wouldn't recommend it for absolutely everyone. However, most everyone has heard the Tchaik at least once or twice (grin) and has a general idea of it's shape.

I think if one is going to take your approach with a piece they have never heard before, it would be advisable to listen to a recording (if there is one) at least once (with score in hand) to get a better understanding of the piece as a whole before starting work on it. If you learn the piece completely before listening to it, then you run the risk of really misunderstanding the written music (especially if you don't have access to a full score...if the piece is with orchestra).

That said, I often take the "no recording" approach to music that is similar to other works with which I am familiar by the same composer. (ie: Kreisler).


P.S. thanks for the star. I've had a really really bad day and a star made it a bit better ;) I'd give you one too if I had one to give out...but I don't for some reason. *later* Found one!

February 17, 2005 at 07:44 AM · Oistrakh by all means!

March 25, 2005 at 11:36 AM ·

March 25, 2005 at 04:52 PM · Wonderful piece (of course). I love the new Mutter/Previn...a very individual style (love it or hate it...I love it). Elman and Oikstrakh (/Ormandy is my favorite) are also at least as good. I have Rabin playing the Finale, which is simply perfect (on Great Violinists of the Bell Telephone Hour). I need to get a recording of him playing the whole thing sometime.

March 25, 2005 at 09:02 PM · No buts or ifs. The most outstanding performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto is the version with Oistrakh/Staatskapelle Dresden. Back in the late 50,s. Perfection itself. Of course,you should know that the Tchaikovsky concerto was written for Oistrakh. That's it!!!

March 25, 2005 at 09:28 PM · Amadeu,

Is that the recording with Konwitschny conducting?


March 25, 2005 at 09:38 PM · Amadeu -- while I think Oistrakh was wonderful (perhaps the greatest violinist of the 20th century), it is difficult for me to believe that the Tchaik concerto was written for him. They did not live at the same time. Tchaikovsky died in 1893, and Oistrakh was born in 1908. I believe that Shostakovich and Prokofiev wrote works for him.

March 25, 2005 at 10:04 PM · Perhaps "born to play it" would have been more appropriate.


March 25, 2005 at 11:47 PM · i agree with the posts above that say to read the music first before you listen to recordings. almost everyone who plays the piece takes massive liberties with it and you'll need to go over the urtext yourself to play the music objectively and not be overly swayed by anyone's interpretations.

as for recordings:

david oistrakh with philadelphia/ormandy is beyond description. you have to hear the man play this concerto. do you hear me? you must hear it! i command you! *picks up computer and shakes it violently*

tossy spivakovsky's 59 recording with london under walter goehr is also incredible.

eugene fodor with new philharmonia/leinsdorf, kyung wha chung with london/previn, and henryk szeryng with boston/munch are also highly recommended.

mischa elman with london/barbirolli is a legendary recording.

nathan milstein with steinberg, forget which orchestra but it's incredible violin playing and you can get it coupled with the brahms concerto on CD for $5.

March 26, 2005 at 12:04 AM · All recordings discussed above are excellent, I appreciate different facets of great talents. D. Oistrakh always touches me, but others are very special as well. For the sonic quality of recording, Mutter/Previn is the best among new recordings (especially the SACD version), and Heifetz/Reiner (RCA Living Stereo re-mastered) is the best among old recordings.

Happy listening!

March 26, 2005 at 12:35 AM · man, as much of a fan of milstein as i am (clumsy sentence) i hvae never really gotten into his tchaik. i dont know why. his brahms though, is incredible.

March 26, 2005 at 06:52 AM · im surprised that Isaac Stern hasn't come up that much. For me, he has, by far the greatest recording of Tchaikovsky v.concerto - with Ormandy. Anything in his young years is basically unbeatable :)

March 27, 2005 at 02:12 PM · As always, there is one vote for just about every recording you can name!

March 27, 2005 at 02:38 PM · I like the MMO version myself.

March 28, 2005 at 03:28 PM · Thanks Carl for correcting me.

"Born to play" the Tchaikovsky is more appropriate.

By the way, the 1939 version, Oistrakh gives a little twist in the cadenza.

Has anybody listened to this version?

March 28, 2005 at 03:34 PM · The Heifetz/Reiner is so awesome. That was the first record I heard of the piece.

March 28, 2005 at 05:12 PM · The "NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection" by Ted Libbey recommends:

Kyung Wha Chung; Montreal Symphony Orchestra/Charles Dutoit.

Maxim Vengerov; Berlin Philharmonic/Claudio Abbado.

Jascha Heifitz; Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner.

Interestingly, none of Oistrakh's performances is referenced! Any thoughts on that?

March 28, 2005 at 05:36 PM · ...Yeah, who needs Oistrakh when you have Heifetz? Jk:)

March 28, 2005 at 05:39 PM · That's presumably Ted Libbey's taste. As you can see from the posts, there is one vote for just about every recording ever done. I do not know any of the recordings he cites, nor have I heard Oistrakh's Tchaik, so I cannot say what I think of his taste. As I recall from reading that book, I did not agree with a number of his selections. However, I think they may be what one might label "safe" choices for people with relatively less exposure to classical.

March 28, 2005 at 11:25 PM · Heifetz has ruined this concerto for me. I cant listen to any other recording, it just sounds out of time.

March 29, 2005 at 06:40 PM · One of the most wonderful aspects of the violin and of classical violin music is that each great violinist has his or her own unique "voice" and way of expressing the music within his or her technical and musical skills. I don't think it's a contest.

There are certainly facets of Jascha Heifetz that make his approach unique, and without his ground-breaking example, all who followed may not have had the same concern for exactness of technique, musicianship, and emotionalism.

But I believe that in fact there are dozens of recorded (and live) performances of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (and all the others) that are unique and thrilling (or at least, interesting), each within their own way and within the talent and musical "vision" of the artist.

I found an old performance (on CD) by Tossy Spivakovsky (paired with the Sibelius). The Sibelius was great. The Tchaikovsky had passages that didn't sound right to me, and other passages that I thought were astonishing. Overall, I thought it was an interesting and in its own way wonderful performance. Certainly different.

Can't the same be said for The Tchaikovsky performances of Heifetz, Oistrakh, Perlman, Stern, Menuhin, Mintz, and all the rest? Doesn't it add to our experience to find what to appreciate in all of them? And if we find something we like, does it really negate everyone else?

March 29, 2005 at 10:06 PM · Sander, if I had any moderator points, you'd get a star or two!

March 30, 2005 at 03:06 AM · Sander,

THANK YOU!!! A star if I had one too.


March 30, 2005 at 03:31 AM · Sander, that was excellent!

March 31, 2005 at 10:11 PM · Erica Morini did an excellent job on her recording. She played the Brahms Hungarian Dances on the CD too.

April 1, 2005 at 06:05 PM · Hi,

Just thought of one classic recording of the Tchaikovsky not to overlook too: Mischa Elman's. Such a wonderful sound...


April 1, 2005 at 06:50 PM · I love Mischa Elman's recording, but my wife hates it!

April 1, 2005 at 10:44 PM · i really love perlman's tchaik- his tone is so clear and powerful

April 2, 2005 at 07:20 PM · thats truly one of the greatest recordings of violin, period, IMO.

April 2, 2005 at 07:57 PM · For sheer perfection of technique Eugene Fodor's recording is hard to beat. I see that he now has a web site. If you need me, I'll be over there.


April 8, 2005 at 10:00 AM · The Stern 1962, the Elman 1929, The Kogan, The Francescatti and then the several Oistrakh recordings, in that order. Milstein played it well

as he played everything well. I'd put him up there, too. I've heard several bad recordings of it and I

really think that if anyone records this piece the repetitive measures should be taken out; it really

helps the piece move forward.

I won't comment on whether a student should listen to a piece before he learns it except to say that I think it

is always good to listen to as much good music as you can. I see nothing wrong with it.

April 8, 2005 at 11:17 AM · Leonid Kogan said the following:

"David Oistrakh's interpretation of the Tchaikovsky concerto is in my opinion the peak of the interpretation of this work. Nobody has played it better than Oistrakh and probably nobody will play it better in the forseeable future."


April 8, 2005 at 07:58 PM · It is not a matter of who plays it better. It is a matter of being old enough to have been able to have compared enough recordings of this piece, so you'll know why Kogan said what he said.

It's just a matter of time 'til you realise that Oistrakh plays it perfectly, even tough you may prefer it with somebody else. In fact, I often listen to less remarkable recordings, so I can "relax" a bit.

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