Good Recordings of Saint-Saens #3?

July 17, 2004 at 07:06 PM · Hi, everyone.

I am currently working on the Saint-Saens b minor concerto, and have only heard one recording of Kyung Wa Chung playing it. I was wondering if the way she plays it is about the same as most every other artist. I am just trying to get a general feel and understanding of the music. I cannot afford to buy another recording for a month or two, but when I have enough money, whose recording should I buy? Or do you think that I should just stick with Kyung Wa Chung's?

Thanks so much!


Replies (67)

July 17, 2004 at 07:18 PM · I had the Kyung Wa Chung recording of the Saint-Saent No.3, but I didn't feel she did justice to this piece, it was OK, but it wasn't that great. So I tried Vangerov, Perlman, and Stern. Suprisingly I liked Vangerov's the best. It was very powerful and made the sometimes dull, and overused melodies in the piece sound new and exciting. And his Paganini was great to.

July 17, 2004 at 07:38 PM · Try Francescatti, also Shaham is very good.

July 17, 2004 at 07:44 PM · Oh yeah, I liked Gil Shahams too. It was very different, but very excellent.

The absolute worst recording I've listened to of this piece, was the Ricci version. He had so many intonation problems. I could not stand listening.

July 17, 2004 at 07:51 PM · I'm a huge Gil Shaham fan, so I recommend his recording!

July 17, 2004 at 08:02 PM · hmm of those i prefer perlman

July 17, 2004 at 08:24 PM · Thanks so much for your input. I think my father might have the Shaham recording. I'll check it out.

About Ricci... I feel really bad for him. Once, I heard he was very talented with the Paganini caprices, but now, he plays poorly. I have perfect pitch, so I go insane.

Poor Ricci. :(

July 17, 2004 at 08:36 PM · Personally, I think Francescatti's recording is the best. I also like Perlman's recording.

July 17, 2004 at 09:01 PM · Ricci is more then 80 years old. A lot of his less-then-perfect recordings are the ones which were recorded in his very late years, so you can get an inaccurate picture of his playing from them. However, his best recordings easily put him as one of the great violinists of the 20th century.

July 17, 2004 at 10:17 PM · i love perlman, szeryng, and milstein equally for this concerto.

matthew feldman

July 18, 2004 at 12:36 AM · I think Ricci is one of the most important violinists of the century. And of course he did have intonation problems. But the recording I have is when he was in his 40s, and I don't think he was old enough to be having these problems.

July 18, 2004 at 01:55 AM · All I can say is that anyone can have a bad day, and it's a shame if someone's bad day gets on tape.

July 18, 2004 at 04:54 AM · I'm playing this piece and have heard many different artists... My teacher told me from that start that he thinks Francescatti's is the "difinitive" recording. I have come to agree. I also enjoy Perlman's.

July 18, 2004 at 09:57 PM · In my opinion, Gil Shaham's recording of this piece is a great demonstration of his wonderful tone and technique, but an ill-considered performance of the piece itself. He treats it too much the same as the Paganini which is on the same disc; the rubato is excessive, and the mood showy. (Shaham seems to have gotten over that trait in the decade or so since he recorded St-Saens: his more recent recordings are a lot better, I think.) Anyway, I wouldn't recommend the Shaham recording to someone just learning the piece.

July 19, 2004 at 12:01 AM · Pierre Amoyal plays this piece very well...This is one of the pieces I wish Heifetz had recorded..had he done so I feel this would have been the definitive recording of this piece.

July 19, 2004 at 07:15 AM · Definitely Milstein or Perlman.


July 19, 2004 at 01:00 PM · Heifetz disliked St-Saens 3. I've heard (don't know if it's true) that he once started to record it, but terminated the session on grounds that he didn't like the piece. Pity.

July 19, 2004 at 05:51 PM · No Heifetz did indeed like the piece, was about to record it in the mid 1970's but started to develop physical problems.

July 20, 2004 at 12:33 AM · Thanks for the clarification. I always kind of wondered why he would have started to record a piece he disliked...

July 22, 2004 at 10:17 AM · I personally like Perlman's recording of the Saint-Saens. Vengerov's is techinically superior to Perlman, but is too "Russian". Perlman really brings out the elegance that this piece has to offer. For example, in the beginning, Vengerov just attacks full fury whereas Perlman really builds the tension up and then delivers a delightful reslution. These are just my thoughts, use them if you want. I am curious to hear Francescatti, but I can never find his recording :(

July 22, 2004 at 12:05 PM · My favourite recordings from this concerto have two superb soloists: Francescatti (what an expressive vibrato and phrasing¡) and Milstein. Recordings by alive violinists: Perlman and Vengerov

July 22, 2004 at 06:37 PM · Hey Dina,

I have heard almost all of the recordings above for the Saint-Saens and think some are quite good. Yet, I think the issue was that you were short on money. A great, great deal and a superb recording is "Saint-Saens: Violin Concertos" performed by Ulf Hoelscher and the New York Philharmonic conducted by Pierre Dervaux. For $11.99 (on, but I've seen it cheaper in stores) you get all three violin concerti, and his other works for violin and orchestra: Morceau de Concert, Havanaise, Intro et Rondo Cap., Caprice Andalou, etc. And trust me, although it is cheaper, the quality is amazing. I have yet to hear a better Saint-Saens #3 (especially the first and third movements). Hoelscher has a passion about his playing that is complimented very well by the NYPO. The crescendi, the suspense, the dark Saint-Saens sound is all there. This is a definitive collection, a very spirited interpretation (way moreso than Chung) and well worth your money (two discs!). Good luck!

July 22, 2004 at 08:37 PM · I've heard Ulf Hoelscher as well, and it's excellent.

An idea: get CDs from the library. I live in a smaller town, but the library sytem has several branches in other towns. There is quite an impressive variety of classical music available, and I reserve the titles I want. Also, I have gotten videos of great artists (Heifetz, Oistrakh, etc) from the library. Be resourceful! :)

July 22, 2004 at 08:37 PM · I've heard Ulf Hoelscher as well, and it's excellent.

An idea: get CDs from the library. I live in a smaller town, but the library sytem has several branches in other towns. There is quite an impressive variety of classical music available, and I reserve the titles I want and they come to my library where I can pick them up. Also, I have gotten videos of great artists (Heifetz, Oistrakh, etc) from the library. Be resourceful! :)

July 22, 2004 at 08:43 PM · hi there!i am quite amazed no one mentioned the fantastic Aaron Rosand version..

be well! jorgen

September 28, 2004 at 09:18 PM · This concerto is one of my favorites - so listen well to my words of wisdom! :)

The following recordings do this work justice:

Grumiaux (1950's mono on Philips)

Hoelscher (my favorite)


Hoelscher for fire. Perlman for sweetness. Grumiaux for fire and sweetness.

September 28, 2004 at 10:42 PM · I actually don't like Shaham's recording of this piece. It's the only Shaham recording I don't like so far. The orchestra isn't even together with him. I recommend Francescatti, and definitely Perlman.

Please don't refer to it being "Russian" with a negative connotation. Not all Russians or Russian style violinists just attack it. Oistrakh, Milstein, etc. all knew how to play eloquently. It's just that Vengerov feels the opening should be explosive. It can be argued both ways.

September 29, 2004 at 02:36 AM · Brian, I'll second your dislike of the Shaham. It's too much like his recording of the Paganini on the same disc (which I admire): it's rubato-inflated and even sappy at times, which robs it of its force and inevitability, and of lightness.

September 29, 2004 at 02:52 AM · Whoa, I didn't realize this was the same thread that I said something very similar on earlier. Sorry for the repetition.

September 29, 2004 at 05:01 AM · Greetings,

my personal favorites in no specific order are Grumiuax, Francescatti and Milstein.

I read that Graffin has a special interest in all the Saibnt seans works. He is a good musician so that might be worth a look.

Actually, I think it is a bteer idea to listen to a lot of Saint Seans other than the work you are studying. The danger of absorbing mannersisms is very real. There is an awful lot of very good chamber and orchestral stuff that doesn`t see the light of day as often as it should,



September 29, 2004 at 10:57 AM · Buri, I agree with your favourite recordings from this work, and I add other: Stern recording.

September 29, 2004 at 05:29 PM · Manuel: Stern with Barenboim?

Great chamber piece: SaintSaens' Septet for Trumpet, Piano, and string quintet (yes, trumpet!)

September 30, 2004 at 12:40 AM · The oboe sonata is really beautiful. It's a world apart from the 3rd violin concerto and most of the piano concertos, at least in their usual renderings.

September 30, 2004 at 07:00 PM · Perlman and Szeryng for me

Yep I have Chung Francescatti and Shaham also but dont like them as much and Im a fan of all 3

Also have a Rabin radio broadcast and thats interesting

Milstein, havent heard that, sounds interesting

September 30, 2004 at 07:46 PM · Oh

Elamr Oliveira has a recording druel druel

September 30, 2004 at 09:05 PM · Just this summer I released my recording of Saent Saens Concerto 3.

Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and Sonata #1 are also on the cd.

It is available on the EMI Classics label.

October 1, 2004 at 01:11 AM · hmmm....i have doubts about that one. where can i get a copy?

October 1, 2004 at 02:19 AM · Greetings, FN good to see you back. Your peculiar brand of inanity was sorely missed by me. What kind of doubts do you have? Spiritual? Logistical? Ethical?



October 2, 2004 at 03:21 AM · FN, you can get a copy of my cd at your local cd store or

October 2, 2004 at 11:07 PM · the only recording i've heard of this is by nathan milstein who plays it beautifully. however, i just can't get into this piece.

February 8, 2005 at 01:26 AM · Francescatti's St. Saens #3 can be found at at

February 8, 2005 at 02:02 AM · wow, FN is from way back.

February 8, 2005 at 04:54 AM · I love the Szeryng, Milstein and Francescatti recordings. Szeryng is particularly enlightening. In addition to the logic that he brought to anything he played, he brought so much clarity to the rhythm that it seems that the score is right in front of you. You should be able to do dictation from the recording without much problem! (Listen to his Lalo too!)

February 8, 2005 at 05:20 PM · I second the recommendation of Aaron Rosand's recording. I used to listen to this a lot when I was younger. It is so well in tune that it rings like crazy!

February 8, 2005 at 05:25 PM · Hmmm... my recording is only five dollars direct from me. Add another ten dollars and I’ll even include the (synthesized) orchestra accompaniment.

February 8, 2005 at 09:42 PM · Pity Milstein's recording hasn't been issued on CD; such suavity, elegance and what an achingly gorgeous slow movement...

February 8, 2005 at 10:12 PM · Actually, you can get it as part of the Art of Nathan Milstein box set.


February 10, 2005 at 04:06 AM · I'd like to add the Louis Kaufman version to my earlier list. Glamorous tone!

February 15, 2005 at 12:29 PM · Get the Francescatti on a 2-cd set with the Tchaikovsky and a spectacular recording of Prokofiev #2, and a few other pieces. But the Saint-Saens is a gem.

July 10, 2005 at 10:38 AM · Francescatti, definitely on anything French. Have you heard him play Chausson's Poeme? How heavenly!

Too bad it never came out on CD. Hey, somebody get a mint LP, make a CD and send it to me.

Thibaud thought Kreisler played Saint-Saens and Chausson the best, but he never recorded them.

Too bad.

July 10, 2005 at 10:39 AM · Re: Ricci. His recordings are a mixed bag; you have to know what to get. A concerto is a three act play. Every story needs a hero. I've heard lots of versions of lots of concertos and lots of violinists play them perfectly. What they really need to do is play them HEROICALLY. Ricci plays the Sibelius heroically (1977) and his recording of the Paganini #2 under Rudolf is fantastic. His technique is astounding. I can see why Heifetz left Paganini out of his recorded legacy; he would have had to face comparison. You know that Heifetz

needed to keep working on his staccato. It was rough and scratchy most of the time. Listen to the clean staccato and spicatto in Ricci's recording. Unbelievable.

July 10, 2005 at 12:15 PM · I personally like the Stern recording. Like Heifetz, he has a very Russian sound to his playing. Francescatti is a close second.

September 16, 2005 at 07:29 PM · The recording of the Trumpet Septet by the Capucon brothers is sensational - it is one of my favourite chamber music pieces and it could not be better played than this.

September 17, 2005 at 07:38 AM · from the old people: Bezvechnii. pitty he's not known here too much...won Queen Elizabeth some time after Oistrach.

from the new ones, no dounbt Julian Rachlin :)he's great !!!

September 17, 2005 at 08:04 AM · Another winner (2nd prize) of the QEC: Liviu Prunaru. He recorded all three concertos. It's worth listening to it!

October 18, 2008 at 01:47 AM · Ohhh,,I love this piece !

Especially,the second movement !

There are so many chapters,stories and an entire

lifetime of information included;an endless

story of love and dance to the woman of your life and love !!!

October 18, 2008 at 02:42 AM ·

October 18, 2008 at 03:48 AM · Try Vadim Brodski [polish-ukrainian violinist]

October 18, 2008 at 04:45 AM · I love Gil Shaham's recording...I just wish I could find my recording of it!!

October 19, 2008 at 05:36 AM · Chee-Yun's version is phenomenal - sultry, note-perfect, and exciting...the coda of the first movement always gets my blood racing...

October 19, 2008 at 06:36 AM · Zino Francescatti's recording is VERY good. I personally like it and Chung's but Fracescatti's may be a little...unconventional? There's a recording out there of Rabin too that is nice.

Actually, Chung is probably closest to how most people would play the piece.

October 19, 2008 at 10:32 AM · Quite surprising that Menuhin is not mentioned. If you want drama, it is there like nowhere else!

January 28, 2013 at 04:59 PM · Definitely Milstein and Francescotti!

January 28, 2013 at 06:09 PM · "Definitely Milstein and Francescotti!"

So true! I have the Milstein Venyl and CD. Its so amazing on venyl! Francescatti is also top! Many mediocre recordings out there too. Those two are not.

January 28, 2013 at 06:52 PM · Maybe you like this live recording.


January 28, 2013 at 08:23 PM · just so you know, folks, the original post is from 2004...

January 28, 2013 at 09:28 PM · yeah.. and?

February 3, 2013 at 06:44 PM · Grumiaux, and Milstein, but maybe I'm just showing my age..

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