Wanted: Paganini CD recommendations

September 19, 2004 at 06:51 PM · Well the subject line says it all.

I was watching "The Art of the Violin" dvd and heard some snippets of Paganini's music. I was stunned, flabbergasted, awed, and enchanted.

I want to find good perfomances of Paganini's music on CD.

Any recommendations?

Please mention the artist and the title of the CD.

Thank You!


(I'm about to leave for a weekend of gigging so I won't be able to respond until Sunday or Monday. Please don't be offended if I don't reply right away.....) ;D

Replies (100)

September 19, 2004 at 06:53 PM · I can't say anything about CD acctually, but I love "Moses variations on the G string" by Vanessa Mae on her Albert Hall's concert. Her "La Campanella" is a little bit too fast for me.

And using this thread I'd like to ask, do you know any good Moses performance?


September 19, 2004 at 06:59 PM · 24 Caprices...James Ehnes...

September 19, 2004 at 08:06 PM · michael rabin 24 caprices, shmuel ashkenasi concertos 1 and 2

September 19, 2004 at 08:49 PM · Im with pat

rabin for caprices and ashkenasi for concertos 1 and 2 and check out szeryng for concerto 3

I also agree with ehnes, his recording is the best caprices ive heard since rabin

September 19, 2004 at 09:49 PM · you must hear kogans pag concerti

September 19, 2004 at 10:32 PM · Greetings,

buy the Milstein DVD for a couple of Paginin capricesand Pagininiana.

The first complete set of concertos Accardo recorded is very good. tThe second less os in my opinion.

Mintz, Ricci, Rabib, Perlman, Ehnes, for the complete caprices.

Then check out an older guy called Prihoda.

But, the best recoridng of Paginini one evr in my opinon was done in -one- take by a fourteen year old kid- Yehudi Menuhin with Monteux conducting. This one has technique plus the most sensuous sound you could wish for. I idly speculate it is the reason Heifetz didn"t record Paginini one;)



September 19, 2004 at 10:45 PM · Has anyone heard Erno Rozsa play the 3rd and 4th concertos, he is amazing. I have this release on naxos and his cadenza in the concerto 3 is about 7 minuites long but his playing is faultless, very pure sound but not incredibly powerful, how i imagine Paganinis tone might sound. His octave playing is sensational though, and the middle movements are very expressive. Worth a look/ listen.


September 20, 2004 at 06:44 AM · Buri...I was a true believer that Young Menuhin's paganini 1 was the no 1, I couldn't stop listening to him...he was sooo amazing...then I heard Kogan. Let's just say I've changed my views :)

September 20, 2004 at 02:51 PM · Massimo Quarta is doing a CD set of Paganini's concerti, recorded in Genoa, on Paganini's Del Gesu. The discs are on Dynamic, and I found the first one (concerto no 1 in D major (see below) and no 2, w the Campanella rondo) to really be fantastic. The second disc is good as well, but I found the music in the first one more compelling (i.e. Paganini's fault as composer, not hte performers).

In no 1, the usually-called "D major" on disc 1, he plays from the autograph, not a published score, and plays in the original tuning (solo tuned a step above hte orchestra...so it's labeled as the "E-flat major" concerto. It sounds phenomenal. It really makes the solo stand out from the orcehstra (which is tuned down a halftone, or something). This disc is highly recommended (by me at least) if you are interested in the Concerti. For the Capricci, I haven't heard Rabin but by all accounts he is phenomenal at them. (He sure plays a mean Tchaik finale, and I've heard a lot of versions of that.)

Salvadore Accardo is also a good interpreter of Paganini. I've heard a few Capricci played by him and was quite impressed.


September 20, 2004 at 04:48 PM · Thanks for the responses.

The first recording I found was Perlman's so I went ahead and ordered that one from Amazon. I'll probably end up buying all the ones you have recommended, but I have to space the purchases out over time to maintain marital harmony;)

Thanks for the input!


September 20, 2004 at 08:38 PM · Phillips has a two cd set with concertos 1-4. It has a great recording of Grumiaux playing concerto no.1, and Szeryng's rendition of no.3; also included is Gitlis playing 2 (la campanella). I prefer Ricci for no.2 and Grumiaux's recording with Gallini for no.4 though.

September 20, 2004 at 10:20 PM · I agree with Buri all the way on this one. Nobody could top Menuhin at the time he recorded the Paganini. Look for the CD on EMI Label....Paganini: Violin Concerto Menuhin/Monteux. You get Menuhin playing concerto No.1, Moto Perpetuo, La Campanella and 6 caprices for a cheap price!.

September 20, 2004 at 10:50 PM · I aggree with Owen and Adam. Leonid Kogan's Paganini No.1, is extremely PHENOMENAL. He was definetly overshadowed by the other violinists of his time.

September 21, 2004 at 03:06 AM · Ilya Kaler, Naxos-Paganini No. 1 (Amazing Cadenza)

Shmuel Ashkenasi, Duetch Grammophone-Paganini No. 1/2

Itzhak Perlman, EMI-Caprices Op. 1 and Paganini No. 1

Erno Rozsa, Naxos-Paganini No. 3/4 (Amazing, never had heard of this amazing player)

Those are a few! :)

September 21, 2004 at 03:45 AM · I don't think anyone mentioned Francescatti. Can't forget him. I like Perlman's Paganini Concerto No. 1, but I have yet to hear Menuhin or Kogan, so I'll have to get those.

September 21, 2004 at 04:38 AM · My favorite performances of the 24 Caprices from who I've heard is Shlomo Mintz. Get that CD it's awesome.

September 21, 2004 at 05:26 AM · Greetings,

Brian, there are six (I think) caprices included on the Menuhin cd. One of them is the tremolo caprice wiuth Enescu`s acocmpaniamnet. I don`t like the caprices accomapnied usually but this is just so beautiful it takes ones breath away. italian opera meets Roumanina folk culture.

To me these caprices (and the cocnerto too) are something different in the recording ouvre. Kogan and all the other gods play Paginin with (it seems to me) the asociated baggabe that Paginini is about technique and wizadry. menuhin seems to feel this music as truly operatic from fruit sdeller in the street, to the lovers on the canals of venice. Its like going to the movies. The technique just receds into the Tiramisu.



September 21, 2004 at 06:04 AM · If you can, get Kavakos playing the caprices. Your jaw will drop.


September 21, 2004 at 06:11 AM · Could not agree more Buri.

September 21, 2004 at 06:11 AM · Btw, I don't agree to the reviewer in the newest Strad regarding the caprices. It is full of errors and subjective thinking.

I can stand (and expects subjectivitivity) but can't stand it when it is based on error. I wonder if he really listened to the recordings he compares?

September 21, 2004 at 09:52 AM · -Paganini´s 1st Concerto: Definitively, Francescatti.

-Caprices (complete): Rabin.

-Moto Perpetuo: Rabin and Heifetz (early recording from this last item).

-Paganini´s 2nd Concerto: Gitlis.

-Paganini´s 3rd Concerto: Of course, Szeryng.

-Paganini´s 4th Concerto: Grumiaux.

-Dance of the Witches: Renardy.

-Carnival of Venice: Francescatti.

There are oustanding recordings from some Caprices: for example, 5th and 11th by Milstein, 13th and 21th by Francescatti, 24th by Renardy, etc.

October 4, 2004 at 06:48 PM · Salvatore Accardo's 6 CD set of the complete Paganini Concerti (there are 6) plus all concert works and the 24 Caprices is a MUST HAVE?

Available from Deutsche Grammophon or the Musical Heritage Society.

October 4, 2004 at 08:38 PM · Kogan on the Paganini 1 from EMI.

I also have a CD from Triton that includes Kogan on the Cantabile, Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento, and Tancredi (Rossini). This is violin playing at its very best.

October 4, 2004 at 11:45 PM · I agree, as always, with Mr. Lillis about Kogan :)

October 5, 2004 at 03:38 AM · Amy,

You're obviously a Kogan fan. I love the playing of both Heifetz and Kogan, as you probably know.

Let me know if I can provide any recordings for you.


October 5, 2004 at 04:15 AM · I just wish Kogan had done me the favor of recording Sibelius concerto. But I guess it's too late now. :(

October 5, 2004 at 08:35 PM · Amy,

Apparently, Kogan wanted to record the Paganini 2 and the Sibelius and was planning to do these recordings when he died. A great pity!

October 5, 2004 at 09:16 PM · That certainly is a pity! He was just another violinist who died far too young. I wish he had recorded Dvorak concerto as well.

October 5, 2004 at 10:23 PM · Um, that was meant to be an exclamation point in my previous post, not a question mark!

October 6, 2004 at 12:07 AM · Some personal favorites. Ricci for the Paganini Concerto's, Ehnes and Rabin for the Caprices, Scott St. John and Simon Wynberg for guitar and violin music by Paganini.

October 6, 2004 at 01:23 AM · Greetings,

Kelsey, what about my rabbit?

How quickly they forget....



October 6, 2004 at 02:26 AM · Oh Buri! Thanks for reminding me! I've had a crazy day and completely forgot about your rabbit.

Ehnes, Rabin, Ricci, St. John & Wynberg, AND Buri's rabbit. :)

October 6, 2004 at 11:37 PM · You should definitely get Francescatti's No. 1. I like the Ormandy version. There is also one with piano on an album titled "An Evening of Paginini." If you can find Tibor Varga's recording of the Concerto No. 1 get that, too. It's exceptional. Much better technically, by the way, than Kogan.

November 1, 2004 at 08:19 AM · I've got 5 out of 6 CDs of the set "Michael Rabin 1936-1972" (details: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000002S35/002-1250551-6928005?v=glance) and I've been serching for the first one (CD1) of this set. Anyone here could sell or make a copy of it for me?

My email: royvietnam@fastmail.fm

November 1, 2004 at 12:54 PM · Let me first say that I usually don't enjoy hearing Paganini because most of it is not so interesting to me.

That being said Kogan's recording of paganini 1 is something else. I am not sure it can be counted as another excellent recording of the Paganini concerto. It is really something else...

November 1, 2004 at 01:04 PM · If your interested in something different on Paganini, try out Paganini: Music for Violin and Guitar recorded by Scott St. John on Naxos label. Beautiful Music!. Great CD and a Great Buy.

November 1, 2004 at 04:28 PM · Shmuel Ashkenasi's recordings of the first 2 paganini concerti are also STUNNING!

November 1, 2004 at 06:45 PM · I have been listening to frank peter zimmermann's 24 caprices put out by EMI and I like it very much. very clean and precise, a great disc to listen to when learning the caprices.. leaves you with lots of room for individuality and musicality but gives you the essential, crisp, technique needed for paganini...

November 3, 2004 at 08:15 AM · LISTEN TO BURI! HE has all the right CD's!!! AND THE MILSTEIN DVD IS EXCELLENT!!! But Buri missed one, I really liked the Paganini Concerto recording done by Sarah Chang when i think she was 14!!! It is amazing...Check it out

November 3, 2004 at 10:40 PM · ach, that one doesnt do it for me.

November 3, 2004 at 11:38 PM · Greetings,

try covering yourself with whipped cream and staring at the cover,



November 4, 2004 at 02:15 AM · ah, much better, your wisdom is so deep

November 4, 2004 at 02:18 AM · I just discovered in a library Uto Ughi's very nice recording of the 2nd and 4th concertos with the Santa Cecilia Chamber Orchestra. He conducts and plays both. It's pretty impressive-- Paganini was in the old tradition of the leader-soloist, I guess, but it must be hard to play the solo part while leading the orchestra. I think the performance is more organic than usual as a result.

November 4, 2004 at 04:18 AM · LOL!!! That's funny...

Buri shh!!!!

Don't share all your wisdom!!! =P

November 8, 2004 at 08:14 PM · Hi,

There are many excellent versions of Paganini's music. There is an excellent double CD set by Philips that has on it the 1st and 3rd concerto with Grumiaux, the 2nd with Gitlis, and the 3rd with Szeryng, as well as some short pieces by various people. Big bonus: the price is excellent.

There is an excellent recording of the 1st concerto by Leonid Kogan, and I agree that the ones by Ashkenazi are very fine.

For the caprices, everyones suggestions here are excellent. Perhaps I would add also Midori's recording and Shlomo mintz's as well, both very good as well.

November 8, 2004 at 08:19 PM · Ilya Kaler's Caprices and Concerti on Naxos are very good, and the price is right.

November 8, 2004 at 09:08 PM · markov, 24 capricios, francescatti la campanella. Both are actually some of the snipets you hear in the art of the violin. Francescatti plays about a page of the la campanella and Markov is playing the pizzicato part of the 24 capricio by paganini. He plays it very very well.

November 8, 2004 at 09:17 PM · I don't think Francescatti ever plays La Campanella in Art of the Violin. Gitlis does.

November 8, 2004 at 10:22 PM · Markov seems to be able to play anything he wants to with ease. He played the Paganini 2nd concerto earlier this year in London (I was playing in the orchestra, the London Schools Symphony) with absolute control and accuracy all the time, but I find his playing uninteresting. Paganini can get very dry if the performer does nothing else but play notes.

Check out Perlman's recording of the caprices and the 1st Concerto. That's real bravura but done convincingly and dynamically. At the risk of contraversy, I'd say he makes Paganini sound better than it is...


November 8, 2004 at 10:47 PM · his cadenza was so amazing i couldnt close my mouth for a month.

November 11, 2004 at 06:13 AM · I agree with Carl. Although I haven't heard Perlman's caprices (I'm sure they're great), I have the recording of Paganini's 1st concerto and it's really amazing. Really beautiful playing. Carmen Fantasy on that CD is amazing, too.

November 11, 2004 at 06:19 AM · From Joseph Franke

Posted via on October 4, 2004 at 11:48 AM (MST)

Salvatore Accardo's 6 CD set of the complete Paganini Concerti (there are 6) plus all concert works and the 24 Caprices is a MUST HAVE?

Available from Deutsche Grammophon or the Musical Heritage Society.

Isn't the 6th (and 7th) concerto lost?

November 11, 2004 at 08:52 AM · This 6'th is not lost.

Some call his E-minor concerto for no 6, some call it no 0 'cause it was written prior to no 1. In this concerto the orchestration is lost but we have Pag's own arrangement of the score to guitar(!).

The one normally called 5 (wich is no 6 in order) is the score lost to, but all the tuttis are written out in the solo part so there are at least two different modern time arrangements of them.

Is it a problem to play his concertos with other peoples orchestrations?

Not in my view. That is what we do with Mozart's requiem and Mussorgsky's Pictures and (most of the time) Boris Godunov.

November 11, 2004 at 09:59 AM · Thanks for mentioning Ilya Kaler..this is a phenomenal fiddler that has been flipping about the country..Eastman, Indiana and presently DePaul in Chicago...He's very accessible and a great player with a humorous side...I watched him all summer playing 2nd violin in the Chautauqua Symphony....when I asked him Why He Was Playing @nd Violin, he responded, " I emm plehying zeckund becoss der eez no terd vylin zecshun" and he chuckled, offered a big smile and we chatted about his Paganini Caprices, which perhaps due to having spoken with him ala flesh, I regard as wondrous.Actually, his wife plays 1st in the group and he fills in the time beween gigs playing 2nd fiddle at Chautaqua for the summer...Have heard him do most of the backbone concerti...great finesse, big luscious sound...don't know if he used his ALF for the recordings as he suggests in the ad that usually rins in STRINGS each month..

November 12, 2004 at 04:07 PM · Does anybody know where I can find Frank Peter Zimmermann's recording of the 24 Paganini caprices? I looked on arkivmusic and Amazon and neither seems to have it available.

November 12, 2004 at 04:11 PM · Hi Amy,

Mostly likely the CD is out of print. I bought this CD awhile ago for a cheap price, I didn't even open it yet. If you like I can make you a copy.

December 1, 2004 at 07:42 PM · I've always thought the Rabin Caprices were the best...such fire in his playing! I am also quite fond of the smoothness of Midori's Caprices.

I also like the Naxos releases. Not only are they the right price, but they explore many lesser-known & up-and-coming artists. For a budget label, the quality is very good & the selection is very wide.

December 1, 2004 at 08:05 PM · I agree...I've been building up a little library of violin rep. this past year...I wouldn't have been able to have put together the collection I currently have with more expensive CDs (I do have a few, from specific, current performers).

December 1, 2004 at 09:34 PM · tretyakov's Paganini is the greatest hands down...RBCmp3.com

December 1, 2004 at 11:11 PM · After reading the responses, I think that the advice and comments given were very true. However, Paganini, is flashy show off music with the emphasis on technique and showmanship. The music, (though there are some nice themes) is secondary. The violinist who captures the true essence of Paganini is Ivry Gitlis. His wild tempos, interpretation and colors added to the music, fulfill the intended purpose of showing off in a demonic sense. His recording has the excitement of gypsy music, and brings out something that no other recording has ever brought out. You may or may not agree, but after listenning to it, you will see that it is totally unique to any other recording. Though I agree that the other artists mentioned merge technique with taste, I highly recommend the Concerto #1 and the Bartok violin concerto. Both recordings will put a smile on your face. Heifetz, as a violinist(though a different style) was unique and also exciting. Both violinists showcase the violin and their individuality. Stylistically correct? Who really knows. But it's great violin playing!

December 1, 2004 at 11:33 PM · Gregory, Bartok #1? (That's what I am looking for. I have Oistrakh's and Midori's Bartok#1 and curious of other interpretations.)

Back to topic...thank you for your pointing to Gitlis. I've never heard his Paganini.

Also, I'm second with D. Kurganov. Listen to Tretyakov's interepretation of 1st Concerto by Paganini. His playing is really great (Though I like Kogan as well).

December 2, 2004 at 01:56 AM · Agree about Gitlis. I've heard him doing the first and second of Paganini's concerti, and they certainly are wild - especially #1.

December 2, 2004 at 12:20 PM · I was speaking of Paganini Concerto #1 when I put a #1 (concerto). With Bartok, I meant the famous one.

I don't know if it's available on CD. I have been around a while and my collection consists of more records than CD's. I even have a recording of Ashkenazi playing it(Paganini). I simply wanted to state that Ivry Gitlis was not mentioned and should have been. Look him up. He is great in his own way, like Hiefetz. I have the Tretyakov recording, and it's very diplomaitc and beautiful. My piont is that with Paganini, it should be a demonstration of demonic technique with flair. Gitlis fits this to a "T".

December 2, 2004 at 05:41 AM · Any performance or interpretation of a piece depends on it's purpose. Solo,commercial,chamber, or orchestral, all demonstrate a diffrerence in the style of playing. Where it's being played, and for who, makes a diffrence.

December 2, 2004 at 06:51 AM · Gregory, definitely, you are right. But I don't understand about Ashkenazi's Paganini. You mean, he plays Rachmaninoff? Or is there a violinist Ashkenazi of whom I've never heard before? (I like how Ashkenazi plays Rachmaninoff's Rhapsodie on the theme of Paganini, it's one of my favorite interpretation).

December 2, 2004 at 11:40 PM · Your thinking of Shmuel Ashkenazy, who recorded Paganinis 1+2 in the 60's. Very good recordings, he sure can play.


December 3, 2004 at 12:34 AM · Thank you, John. Unfortunately, I didn't know about him. Will try to find.

December 3, 2004 at 01:03 AM · Greetings,

like John said, those are very good indeed.



January 28, 2005 at 05:14 AM · I'm somewhat surprised no one has mentioned Franco Gulli's fantastic Paganini 5th Concerto recording from the late 1950's.

January 28, 2005 at 06:00 AM · Gitlis is the God of Paganini's 1st two concerti - he's so individual - gyspy style - beautiful sound - effortless....aghh

January 28, 2005 at 06:10 AM · Greetings,

excuse my rudeness but are you the Joey Corpus who taught Lara St. John? If so, it was a real pleasure to read about you in the Strad and I thought your comments on the role of vibrato exemplary,



January 28, 2005 at 02:03 PM · Hi Buri,

There was no rudeness on your part whatsoever! Yes, I'm the one that taught Lara. Thank you for your kind comments. I must say I really enjoyed your articles and posts and look forward to more of them.

Best wishes,


January 31, 2005 at 10:32 PM · To my opinion, i dont know any version of the 24 Capricci better than Schlomo Mintz recording

February 1, 2005 at 01:14 AM · You will find no recording of the 24 Caprices of Paganini that are more perfectly executed and as full of life than James Ehnes, I've heard them all, this is the best. Ta

February 15, 2005 at 11:55 AM · First of all, to really appreciate Paganini, you have to listen to it as Italian opera (which was his model). There are lots of wonderful performances on CD, but there is a new 2-cd set by Ricci of 3 records that have been out of print for years, and recorded when he was in his prime. One of them is Paganini encore pieces. The performances are SPECTACULAR. Also, a recent Francescatti live performance CD of Paganini encore pieces, including a performance of the 1st concerto with piano accompaniment. If you like Paganini or you like violin playing, these CD's are a must. Enjoy

February 16, 2005 at 01:35 AM · Jonathan,

He is also one of the few violinist to record #5 with the original bowing.


May 25, 2005 at 11:02 PM · Paganini #1 - Leonid Kogan, Zino Francescatti.

Other Concertos, take your pick, Accardo, Ricci, et al. Not many guys go past #1, so the field is limited to those 2 guys and maybe a couple others.

Moto Perpetuo - Ricci. How does he do it? It's fantastic. No one can beat him on this one. I can't even listen that fast... and yet, it's all articulated so cleanly.

May 26, 2005 at 02:48 AM · To me, no one captures the essence of Paganini more than Eugene Fodor.

Even Soovin Kim admitted that Fodor has the best Nel cor piu non mi sento

tretyakov's recording is really, really great. But I think Fodor's is better.

Moses Fantasy--Fodor

Witches Dance--Fodor

Just my humble opinion from someone who has seen Fodor pick up the fiddle and play the Sauret cadenza from 5 feet away--effortlessly, after a long hike. Long hike, glass of water, Sauret cadenza. Never in my life have I seen anything like that. Unbelievable.

May 30, 2005 at 09:09 PM · My selection is :

Paganini Violin Concerto #1 : Kogan, Grimiaux, Mullova

Paganini Violin Concerto #2 : Gitlis

Paganini Violin Concerto #3 : Szerying

Paganini Violin Concerto #4 : Grimiaux

Paganini Violin Concerto #5 : Accardo

Paganini Violin Concerto #6 : Ricci, Quarta

Moses Fantasy : Young Menuhin ( Recorded at the age of 16 )

Moto Perpetuo : Heifetz , Ricci

Le Strenghe, I palpiti : Grimiaux

24 Caprices : Rabin, Midori

Cantabile in D : Kogan, Sarah Chang

Nel cor piu non mi sento : Leila Josefowicz

God saves the King : Ricci, Accardo

Carnival of Venice : Francescatti

Numerous Quartets : Accardo quartet

Grand Viola Sonata in c minor : Teng Li (Amazing)

Well... this is all I can think of now but I'll more later.

Best wishes to you, Taejun Park

June 2, 2005 at 08:06 PM · PAGANINI: 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, OP.1: MIDORI

(distributed by Sony Music)

-Ross Christopher


September 8, 2005 at 08:12 AM · Having read this entire thread, I was so surprised not to see Ricci mentioned more till Sander Marcus mentioned the Ricci CD's. I have been looking for them for years, as I had the original London LP recording CM9099, which seem to appear as Decca now - with Louis Persinger (his teacher) accompanying him on piano, and having seem him in a solo Paganini recital in the early 60's - these CD's are a rare & incredible collection from God Save the Queen variations, Nel Cor Variations, I Palpiti, Le Streghe, Sonata #12, Variations on G String et al - it is a must for any collector. And I have learned much from earlier comments, and will add to my collection - Thank you.

September 8, 2005 at 03:21 PM · Ricci is a maniac. How he manages to play perpetuo at 200 BPM I'll never know.

September 8, 2005 at 03:25 PM · I can add one more to the list. Stefan Jackiw performed the Paganini 1st concerto with the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of boston while they were on tour in Brazil. He was 16 years old, and when I first heard this performance, I continuously said to myself: "am I actually hearing this?" I generally can't stand Paganini's music(I know, as a violinist, that is blasphemy, but I just can't get past the fact that its all for effect), but I was mesmerized by this recording. The best part is, you can get it for free:-D. The website is: http://www.benjaminzander.com/recordings/nec.asp

You have to scroll down a little bit, but it is a quick and easy download, and I guarantee it is worth it. Your jaw will drop.

September 12, 2005 at 12:34 AM · Just as a followup, two Ricci CD sets that are "musts" (especially if you like Paganini) are:

1. The Art of Ruggiero Ricci - Virtuoso Violin - Paganini, Sarasate, violin encores. Decca 2 CD set. 458-191-2.

Contains Paganini and Sarasate encore pieces from Ricci's prime playing days. The accompanist is Persinger. Then there is a varied collection of classic encore pieces by various composers, and the accompanist is Ernest Lush. This is a re-issue of 3 long-out-of-print LPs of Ricci at his best. All of the performances are spectacular, beyond great. The Paganinis will quickly become your favorites. The Sarasate pieces are played with an sense of sparkle and elegance, and are tossed off like some string of pearls.

2. The other CD set are the two famous solo violin Town Hall concerts by Ricci (recorded live, 1946 and '47). Published by "111." URS-50193. They contain several pieces, but the Paganini selections are elegant beyond compare.

One of the remarkable aspects of all of the performances, not just the Paganini pieces, is the energy, passion, and melodic sense of voice in the playing. The technical passages are attacked with an energy that is unbelievable. Another aspect is the pizzicati, which are the clearest, most articulate, and most dominating things you will every hear by any violinist. The pizzicato variation of Caprice 24 in the Town Hall concert is so spectacularly perfect and upfront that the audience spontaneously applauds through some of the following (harmonics) variation.


Cordially, Sandy Marcus

September 12, 2005 at 08:30 PM · Another couple of thoughts.

In addition to the Ricci/Persinger and Ricci Town Hall cd sets, there is a Ricci performance of the Paganini Concerto #2 with the Cincinnati Symphony conducted by Max Rudolph. I don't know if it has ever been out on a CD, but it is the cleanest, most exciting performance of this concerto I've ever heard.

The other one I like, also not yet out on CD, is a Menuhin/Fistoulari performance. While Menuhin struggles here and it's not the cleanest performance you will hear, musically it sings like none other. In fact, it "talks."

Great performances, both of them, but boy are they different.

Sandy Marcus

September 14, 2005 at 07:34 PM · From the more than fifty different recordings I happen to have of the first Paganini concerto, the most fascinating is the live, 1st prize-winning (concours Reine Elisabeth 1967) version played by Philippe Hirschhorn. Also a 'must' is Vasa Prihoda.

As for the concerto # 2, try to find the recording by Yulian Sitkovecky from 1955.

Another excellent version of this concerto by Ricci/Rudolf was released on CD long ago, but is out of print now.

Ricci recorded the caprices twice for Decca, in 1949 and 1959. Good as the 1959 rendition is, I prefer the one from 1949.

Weirdest Paganini concerto # 1: Kreisler playing his own dreadful arrangement.


September 14, 2005 at 09:43 PM · I find Kreisler's arrangement more appealing musically than the Paganini #1 original, and wish it was more frequently recorded.

I heartily second the second's recording by Ricci/Rudolf; phenomenal. Have it on LP only; didn't know it was EVER on CD.

September 15, 2005 at 12:22 AM · Perlman's is pretty good, I have another good one, I'll see if I can find it.

September 15, 2005 at 09:57 AM · Alan,

The 2nd Paganini concerto from 1964 by Ricci/Cincinnaty symphony orchestra/Rudolf was reissued on CD by MCA (MCD 80122). It also includes the first Saint-Saëns concerto (like on the Brunswick LP), plus the Bach partita in D minor.

As for the Kreisler arrangement of the first Paganini concerto: in the first place I don't like to see a three movement concerto being reduced to one movement. Although I have to admit that this happened in other arrangements (like Wilhelmj, Prihoda, von Reuter and Kubelik) as well: maybe due to the fact that before WW-II in general only the first movement was played.

Second: rewriting the violin part (leaving out most of the pyrotechnics) is quite a responsibility, just like omitting the (Italian) operatic part of Paganini. But maybe Kreisler had Lehar's 'Paganini' in mind :-)

Third the orchestration. The orchestra Paganini wrote for, is the same one as in case of Rossini. The orchestra Kreisler used, was the one from Bruch's 'Scottish fantasy'. And apart from all that brass, even a harp. :-(

I have in general nothing against arrangements. Both Heifetz and Auer wrote very effective arrangements. Or others, like Schubert's Erlkönig by Ernst or Saint-Saëns' 'étude en forme d'une valse' by Ysaÿe. But IMHO the Kreisler 'arrangement' of the first Paganini concerto is just a cumulation of bad taste.


September 16, 2005 at 01:02 AM · Good points Ronald. I guess it proves there's just no point in arguing with people who don't relish bad taste. Or who don't taste bad relish.

September 16, 2005 at 05:30 PM · In my (humble...very humble) opinion, the Kreisler arrangement is indeed a mixture of styles -- from Rossini-type Italian opera to late Romantic Era schmaltz. It's an interesting addition to the literature, and it is beautiful in it's own way, but it is more Kreisler than Paganini. On the other hand, Kreisler did pretty well with that aesthetic. Isn't it nice to have both the original Paganini and the Kreislerized version?

Like it says in that old joke:

"Clean mind, clean body....Take your choice."

Sandy Marcus

November 3, 2005 at 12:29 PM ·

November 3, 2005 at 12:56 PM · I have never heard so many recommendations, and they're all great. I don't know if you have the money to buy all of that. I wish I did. But I'd like to put in a plug for the Ricci 2-CD set of encore pieces he made in his prime. The accompanist on the Paganini pieces was his teacher, Louis Persinger. It was Ricci at his best, which means it was Paganini at his best. The Witch's Dance, Perpetual Motion, and so many other Paganini magnum opuses (opi?) are beyond belief.

November 3, 2005 at 09:14 PM · Check out this website:-


November 22, 2005 at 06:16 AM · Dear friends who suggest S Ashkenazi (DG) for the Paganini VC 1 & 2,

Would you be so kind as to tell us a little more as to why you like his performances. Thanks in advance.

January 31, 2006 at 03:46 AM · I have read all the entries above and am shocked that no one has mentioned Rabin in the first concerto. While most are familiar with his Caprices, it is the first concerto whereby he made his reputation. Consider that he was perhaps the most superlative violin talent of the 20th century, this is quite something.

In fairness, I have heard virtually every recording of the work, including Perlman, Francescatti, Menuhin, Kreisler, Markov, Kogan, Midori, Chang, Ashkenasi, Ricci, Shaham, and many others. While each is impressive (how could you not be?), all pale when compared directly to Rabin.

This fellow had the combination of tone, articulation, sensuous phrasing, intonation and sheer control which is simply awe-inspiring. Each note, every run-- all are played with meaning and brilliance. You never realize how unclean, uneven and out of tune everyone else is until you hear him. Not even Kogan or Rosand could play all the tenths (particularly the ascending tenth scales) like him. Perhaps overlooked is the dramatic second movement- Rabin puts his entire being into what is usually skipped over by many as an afterthought.

The disappointment for some will be his choice of a souped up Flesch cadenza, but this is a welcome change from the Sauret and a clinic in double-stops and tenths. While his third movement is match by a few, no one can touch him in the first or second movements.

His only competition is himself. The first version, in mono, is slightly better technically and more straight-forward musically, but the second has stereo sound and a bit more broad phrasing. Fortunately, you get both in the 6 CD set, so you don't have to pick.

Regarding music critics-- I believe none of them know a thing about violin playing. Grammophone worships the Perlman, and while I admire his sweet tone and style (particularly in the third movement), it is low voltage playing. His double-harmonics are very scratchy and his double-stops are never quite in tune.

June 17, 2006 at 11:57 AM · Gringolts' recording blew me away.

Accardo's recordings are really magnificient...


June 17, 2006 at 12:13 PM · I heard Rabin in person in Philadelphia play the Paganini Concerto #1. As great as his recordings are, the live performance was better. Fantastic. Out of this world.

June 17, 2006 at 03:59 PM · Aaron Rosand has a live concert recording of the Paganini #1 concerto that is just unreal.

Also check out Soovin Kim's Caprice recording. It's as impressive as anybody's out there. Kim, currently in his 30s, won the Paganini competition when he was only 20.

Vasa Prihoda's "Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento" is probably the best one I've ever heard.

June 17, 2006 at 02:14 PM · Ilya Kaler has done an excellent recording of the Caprices for Naxos.

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