Ivry Gitlis on the Grumiaux DVD

January 29, 2005 at 06:56 AM · Wow. I just saw the Grumiaux DVD and on it was a video of Ivry Gitlis playing Saint-Saens' Rondo and Capriccioso (bonus feature) . It is not only the great display of musicality and technical wizardry I've ever heard through that piece, but I felt like it was work of the devil. Reminds me of paganini...whom i have never heard play!

WOW i love this violinist. I wonder why he is so underrated. He was on art of the violin...he was funny :)

Has anyone else seen this performance?

Replies (54)

January 29, 2005 at 07:49 AM · I have this DVD. The interpretation is certainly... *different*. It's hard to say whether he plays differently because he sincerly believes in the correctness of his intepretation, or just for the sake of it. Personally, Gitlis' interpretation of the Saint-Saens isn't my cup of tea, but it's an interesting performance.

A little known fact about Ivry: he played a hypnotist in a French film called "L'histoire d'Adele H", which is about the daughter of Victor Hugo. He's only in one scene, but he's very funny.


January 29, 2005 at 11:19 AM · Greetings,

I was blown away by this performance too. It seemed to me to be genius crossing the line into insanity.

I own a fair number of his recordings and they will, I hope always have a special niche in the history of great violinsts. He really was one of the best.



January 29, 2005 at 12:18 PM · I have "The Art of Ivry Gitlis" 2 CD set (Vox records) which a real gem to own. On it are recordings of Tchaikovsky, Bruch G min, Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Bartok concerti and also Bartok's solo sonata. I first came across him in The art of ther violin dvd and not only was I captivated by his charm and wit in the interview but was dead impressed by the clip of Paganini 2. In the concerti recordings, he really shines in the Mendelssohn, Bartok (both works), and most impressive is the Sibelius in which his lean style of playing really suits the work. I was really disappointed with the Tchaik, which he hurried through (the first movement is faster than any of Heifetz's recordings!!!!!!!!!) and the huge cut of several pages in the last movement completely ruins the whole work and misses out the wonderful orchestral tutti winding up to the coda. Apart from that, one of the most exciting fiddlers I've ever heard.

January 29, 2005 at 08:04 PM · He plays well in the Art of Gitlis 2 CD set which I own, but I also saw the Saint-Saens in the Grumiaux video and I didn't like it. It's too fast for my taste and his vibrato seems to be out of control. He's certainly an eccentric player.

January 30, 2005 at 02:18 AM · yeah....i liked it when hes just talking on Art of violin...and his peg falls out?!?! he just keeps talking and puts it back in haha


January 30, 2005 at 04:17 AM · I like the part where he's fumbling with his bow and drops it and it sounds good when it hits the string.

January 30, 2005 at 07:04 AM · I have him playing the Paganini Concerti 1 and 2 with Wisloski and the Warsaw Philharmonic - Amazing! Plus 4 caprices and I Palpiti - He's prob my favorite violinist. The God of Paganini...

January 30, 2005 at 07:04 AM · He certainly seems like he knows alot about violin playing by the way he speaks in the Art of Violin. He seems very charming and his I find his jokes to be hilarious. Actually, it's more the delivery but it's not funny anymore because I've watched that movie so many times I know everything everyone says.

January 30, 2005 at 07:06 AM · I was looking to buy that Vox Box of him doing the Tchai etc...but you I can't get it in Australia :( what a shame

January 30, 2005 at 01:43 PM · that clip blew me away too, my favorite gitlis recording is the sibelius, i want to hear him play wieniawski concerto 2

as for my favorite recording of the intro rondo it would have to be either rabin szeryng or oistrakh

January 30, 2005 at 01:51 PM · i also was blown away by the clip on the grumiaux dvd. i hadn't even heard of him before hearing him talk on the art of the violin (where he was sooo charming, i love how he switched back and forth between french and english). when i was watching the grumiaux dvd i was so excited to see his name on there, and actually hear him play-- and then was amazed, because, yeah, his playing is pretty wild...

January 30, 2005 at 02:21 PM · His Bartok recordings are amazing.

January 30, 2005 at 07:02 PM · I only heard Gitlis on the Paganini 1 for the first time this week. I had the same impression as Mr. Kurganov - that this may have been how Paganini played - demonic, whereas Kogan, for example, plays with a more controlled excitement and more perfect intonation. Take your pick, but I prefer Kogan, while recognising Gitlis' talents.

January 30, 2005 at 07:53 PM · So far my two favorite recordings of the introduction and rondo are Perlman and Stern (on the Bell Telephone Hour DVD) but I haven't heard Oistrakh's yet and I have a feeling I would like that one alot.

January 31, 2005 at 01:08 PM · I felt that, although great fun, wild and impressive, Gitlis' playing on that Saint-Saens is just too far ahead of the beat, verging on out of control, a runaway train.

I think you have to already know the piece to hear the music in that performance.

Still, I keep watching it in amazement! I do enjoy it. I would love to hear him play other works.


February 1, 2005 at 05:19 PM ·

February 1, 2005 at 05:22 PM · Unfortunetely that DVD of Gitlis was filmed when he was past his prime. Gitlis in the 1950's and 1960's was an amazing virtuoso - with perfect control of his speed, vibrato, bow and intonation. People should judge him on his prime.

February 2, 2005 at 01:14 AM · There is another DVD recording of Gitlis if I remembered correctly. It was filmed even later than the Saint Saens and showed his own solo recital. One of the pieces he played was the Chaconne.

February 3, 2005 at 12:32 AM · Gitlis performance on Grumiaux DVD is absolutly amazing, I agree.

February 3, 2005 at 01:59 AM · He's a freakin amazing violinist! Why isn't this man's name mentioned with Perlman, Stern, Heifetz, etc?

February 3, 2005 at 04:57 AM · Alrick and Marty take my stars! I totally agree and ponder the same thing. This guy can play!

February 3, 2005 at 05:51 AM · I have a recording of him playing the Paganini 2nd concerto with the most delicate expressive intonation. Bravo Maestro Gitlis!

February 4, 2005 at 01:55 AM · He has great technique and a distinct personality but I have to say that sometimes his playing can be a little hectic. I still like his playing alot and I think his phrasing is very beautiful.

February 5, 2005 at 07:27 PM · Ivry Gitlis is a GREAT violinist--the VoxBox is a must! I believe he played more in Europe than in the USA, and lives in Israel. Am I correct? His Bartok is, indeed, fabulous.

February 5, 2005 at 10:07 PM · The small presence of Gitlis in US was a results of Arthur Judson's politics. After a concert in NYC, he was asked "Are you signing him? No. `Judson shrugged. `There's something missing.' The disappointed aspirant was Ivry Gitlis, a master of the instrument who never became a star, because Judson sensed a possible flaw in his make-up. Whether Judson could have made Gitlis famous is anyone's guess; the trouble is, he would not make the effort unless a performer seemed perfect. `You cannot force a success,' he liked to say. `I don't believe in throwing money around in attempting the impossible by force.""

I don't understand why EMI only released the Saint-Saens and not other filmstrips which are available like Bartók, from solo sonata Sz. 117: Melodya / Elgar, La Capricieuse / Paganini, Caprice Nr. 24 / Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto, etc.

March 25, 2005 at 11:58 AM ·

March 25, 2005 at 12:05 PM · nikray,

I assume then that you have heard every recording ever made of this piece? I wasn't aware that you would have access to all of these...in Iran.

March 26, 2005 at 12:22 AM · My teacher just loaned this dvd to me this past week! I agree it is amazing. (My mom, though, was convinced he was on drugs lol)

It is indeed a performance on the edge. I personally think the vibrato is a cool effect.

Where can I get his Bartok?

And where can I get Oistrakh playing the Rondo and Capriccio?

April 6, 2005 at 08:52 AM · I just bought this DVD today - one word for Gitlis - AMAZING!

July 12, 2005 at 12:12 AM · Has anybody heard Gitlis' Bazzini Dance of the Goblins - it's one of the recordings of his I find dissappointing.

April 1, 2006 at 04:55 AM · Got hold of the video Gitlis recital in Japan - Bach and Bartok (he plays the Chaconne, a fugue and gavotte from part 3 as well as the entire Bartok solo sonata...stunning!)

Also obtained another Gitlis video of him playing in an outdoor concert in France - he plays a Mozart Sonata, Bloch's Nigun, Sarasate's Gypsy Airs, Kreisler Liebesleid and Schon Rosmarin as well as the whole Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata - beautifully played! He's really an amazing violinist

April 1, 2006 at 06:11 PM · I became a Gitlis fan in the mid 1950's when I bought (quite by accident) the old Vox recording of the Bartok Concerto #2 and the Solo Sonata. To me, his entire musical and technical approach is absolutely perfect for Bartok. Beyond perfect. He really penetrates to the heart of the music. And it's not just the vibrato, but his choice of when NOT to vibrate. This I find annoying in some of the romantic works. But in Bartok? It is dead-on right. I have considered those Bartok performances as better than ANYONE else's for half a century. I still haven't heard anything that changes my mind.

His career certainly should have had more recognition than he got.

April 1, 2006 at 06:28 PM · I love his playing, and he is also a warm and generous human being.

He is truly one of the greatest violinists.

Some have considered him a bit overly eccentric when it came to standard repertoire (Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky).

I think despite those critics, he is still undeniably one of the greatest violinists (sound, bravura temperament, total command of the instrument etc).

For Bartok, Paganini and all of the virtuoso repertoire, his style really is perfect.

April 1, 2006 at 07:26 PM · Hi,

He is a phenomenal artist. In Bartok's works, I am still blown away each time I hear them. The Solo Sonata in particular; no words for that one. There are some great recordings on LP worth hearing - like the Wieniawski #1 - incredible. The unbelievable thing is that he still plays wonderfully even though he is getting up there in years.


April 1, 2006 at 11:31 PM · The Wieniawski #1 and 2 have been issued on Cd, at least in France, by Philips,in a 2 Cds box called "l'homme au violon" with Paganini's concertos, 3 caprices and I palpiti and Saint-Saëns 2nd and 4th concertos.

April 2, 2006 at 02:18 AM · Hey Adam,

Where can you get this video of Gitlis in Japan from? I have a fair amount of videos for him, but have never heard/seen that one.

April 2, 2006 at 03:41 AM · He plays the last page at incredible speed. Not a "polite" performance though. I would like to one day play that fast.


April 2, 2006 at 12:15 PM · I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Ivry Gitlis one evening in 2002 at Keshet Eilon in Israel.It was during an informal occasion at Shlomo Mintz' home in Israel arranged to give the Keshet Eilon faculty an opportunity to relax a bit and get to know one another.I must say that Ivry Gitlis is (in addition to his remarkable violin talent) one of the funniest human beings alive! Had he not had a career as a soloist,he could have easily had an act like Victor Borge and been hugely successful! Truly funny in his timing (could rival Jack Benny), delivery and gestures. Something really unique.

I wonder how much of this other talent crosses over into his playing? You know, his use of gesture and implied emphasis with timing is an art unto itself. A very interesting musician and person. It was a delight to meet him.

April 7, 2006 at 12:06 PM · Hi, guys! I'm Ivry's pupil. Actully I 've just had lesson with him for the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in March. We talked about his DVD of this piece. He said the playing was live after a 10-15mins interview. "It was not bad, but now my playing will be totally different!" Said the lovely Master.

April 7, 2006 at 05:11 PM · Zheng-Yu, how fortunate to have such a wonderful teacher!

April 8, 2006 at 12:55 PM · I second that.

April 8, 2006 at 02:50 PM · I have a recording of Ivry Gitlis playing the second Paganini concerto and three of the caprices transcribed for violin and piano.

I really like the caprices, but the concerto just sound different than what I am used to. It is on a two-disc CD collection on the Phillips label entitled "The Best of Paganini."

It has Grumiaux playing Concertos 1 and 4, plus Le Streghe and I Palpiti, Szeryng playing Concerto No. 3, and Ivry Gitlis performing what I listed above.

Gitlis is a remarkable violinist, but he is a little sloppy in the second concerto. I guess this is because he is past his prime in that recording? The three caprices are done very well, though.

April 9, 2006 at 03:12 PM · He came to my concert last week and asked if I spoke Hebrew. I wonder why they always do this


April 9, 2006 at 03:22 PM · Your last name is Gringolts, change it to Kim, and you'll be asked to speak Korean instead:).

April 9, 2006 at 05:24 PM · I wonder whu no one asks me that, since I do!

I guess that Eklund isn't particulary Jewish, but I don't have to be jew to speak hebrew do I?

April 9, 2006 at 06:15 PM · Ilyusha,

did you in turn ask if he spoke Russian? since his parents were Russian:)

If you see him again, ask to try his Edwin Clement bow.... awesome bowmaker in Paris.

He lives around the corner from Clement, and they are good friends.

April 9, 2006 at 07:01 PM · Charlie, the Paganini concertos were recorded in the early 60ies, Gitlis was far from being "past his prime" (and I don't think he is, not even now!!)

April 9, 2006 at 07:53 PM · thanks Daniel.

April 9, 2006 at 09:56 PM · Ivry actrually speaks perfect English, French, Hebrew. And a bit Italian, Spanish and German. But he doesn't speak Chinese well.

April 9, 2006 at 11:26 PM · Too bad he never learned Russian, since his parents came from there.

April 10, 2006 at 08:08 AM · We still don't have the answer, Ilya!! Do you speak hebrew??

September 8, 2007 at 06:05 PM · I just saw the Story of Adele H with our violinist's appearance... Really liked the film (Director Truffaut, same as did Shoot the Piano Player-- a great film!). I saw the name Ivry Gitlis early in the credits, thought, Wow, no way! and kept looking for a violinist. No luck. Came to v.com thinking I might learn better here, and indeed this thread claims him as the hypnotist. He did very well as the hypnotist... :-) Always a bit of mesmerism in music, right?

February 29, 2008 at 07:16 PM · This is all months later I know.

Anyone that has ever had anything to do with Ivry's violin courses (not sure what to call them), and has ever heard (or in my case recorded) rehearsals with him and his various friends and musicians would not judge him on the recordings.

I hate this stuff about "past his prime" which I have heard so often.

The fact is this man is a real musician, and is one of the few I have ever seen that is capable of communicating his genuine love of music to others in ultra simple terms.

That is a rare talent indeed.

Then, what you see although on occasions is he can be very severe.

It is someone who also communicates a love of humanity despite all the failings.

That is probably one of the highest things music can confer on anybody, with an acute sense of our own mortality.

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