Brahms Violin Concerto

April 13, 2005 at 11:39 PM · Hello all,

I would like to find out about your favorite recording of the Brahms violin concerto.

Mine is by Rachel Barton with the Chicago Symphony Orchesta under Carlos Kalmar.

Replies (99)

April 14, 2005 at 12:35 AM · My favorite performance I've ever seen was Oistrakh on that video that recently came out with teh Brahms, Tchaik, Sibelius etc. on it. He makes the ending, which I've always found kind of disappointing, work for me. Also, his power and passion is always overwhelming and incredible to listen too.

April 14, 2005 at 12:56 AM · My favorites are as follows:

Oistrakh/Szell/Cleveland. A wonderful balance between Oistrakh's warmth, Szell's precision, and the Cleveland Orchestra's musicality;

Kogan/Kondrashin/Philharmonia. Kogan's more austere, pure, yet intense performance is a beautiful counterbalance to Oistrakh's;

Rachel Barton's recording is the best I've heard from the modern era -- deeply felt, gorgeous sound, extremely musical, with superb support from Carlos Kalmar and the Chicago Symphony.

April 14, 2005 at 01:03 AM · Whoops, I left out an important one. Szeryng/Dorati/London Symphony is as good as any I've heard. While I'm listening to it, it's my favorite. Szeryng's approach seems to me not far removed from Oistrakh's.

April 14, 2005 at 01:15 AM · Heifetz because it's good... and Oistrakh because he has the right sound and temperament for that piece.

April 14, 2005 at 01:37 AM · Milstein/Fistoulari is the best I've heard.

April 14, 2005 at 02:16 AM · I wish I liked the Brahms concerto more. I was listening to Anne Sophie's a couple weeks ago and I was struck by how fragmentary the melodies in the first movement were... if I'm not mistaken, Sarasate felt the same thing, although my source is one of those anecdotes that is usually cited as proof that the nineteenth-century concertgoers had strange taste in music, and seemingly disliked all the pieces revered as major today. Hmm... I do like the 3rd movement, which always strikes me as being very similar to Bruch (which came first?) Parts of the first movement also suggest, uneasily to my mind, paraphrases of Beethoven, which of course was a source of popular criticism in the First Symphony. (But I could be imagining that connexion!!). Anyway, I do remember liking Oistrakh and Heifetz on this piece when I was younger, and Shaham played it brilliantly live with the TSO. I guess I am just a melody addict, and need to grow some patrience for things whose greatness lies either in virtuosity or in bigger matters of form or orchestration. Hmm but at least I love the 3 sonatas --without question the greatest after Beethoven. The Double Concerto is great also.

Maybe Anne Sophie's version is to blame? I really want to love this work...

April 14, 2005 at 02:02 AM · Menuhin's 1940 rendition - live at Carnegie Hall is really nice - with the New Friends of Music Orchestra under Georg Schneevoigt. Reason: Menuhin's virtuosity, beautiful warm sound, musicality, everything came together for him in this live concert, it's truely beautiful.

Also a BBC broadcast Menuhin did with the BBC Symphony under Sir A. Boult in 1943 of the Brahms is very nice too - Menuhin is a tad more gusty in this version - and the 3rd mvt sounds much more bright than the 40's rendition - both are great!

April 14, 2005 at 02:24 AM · All of the above are on my favorites list, and I'm just going to add one more (not neccessarily my favorite, just one I happen to like). Anne Sophie Mutter's recording was amazing- I believe it was recorded just days after a train accident that killed her husband and child (or something like that, ask Andrew Sords). I don't generally agree with her musical ideas- and some in the Brahms grate on me a bit, but the sheer passion with which she plays it is just breathtaking. However, I will admit that Oistrakh/Szell/Cleveland is probably my very favorite as well. :)

April 14, 2005 at 06:55 AM · David Oistrakh for his good balance between phrase, technique, and feelings.

Also, Gil Shaham's new DVD with the Berlin Philharmonic might be a good one to try..

I really liked Gil Shaham's energy and neat articulate technique in that.

April 14, 2005 at 06:57 AM · Oistrakh, but I can't really decide on a favourite recording - they're all good. Neveu's recordings (I have two) are wonderfully intense.


April 14, 2005 at 02:55 PM · Many of you have heard my ravings already about an out-of-print Grumiaux recording of this concerto. With The Concertgebouw, Van Beinum conducting. Why do I like it? Tastes are very personal, but some of the attributes of this performance that move me: the wonderful orchestral playing, Grumiaux's grace, attention to long lines and phrasing, his careful detailing (no notes are thrown away; every note is considered),perfection of vibrato, majestic tone, particularly on the double/triple stops, and his perfect intonation throughout. The ritardando at the end is the most perfectly executed and dramatic rendition of the phrase I have ever heard and can bring tears to my eyes.

I apolgize to those who have taken me up on my offer to send copies of the CD I ripped from vinyl. I still have your e-mails, and will eventually follow through.

I find no joy at all in the popular Milstein/Fistoulari record.

-Grumiaux Freak

April 14, 2005 at 03:04 PM · I should add that I also have the readily-available "other" Grumiaux recording of the Brahms, and although it is good, it does not rise to anywhere near the level of this out-of-print Concertgebouw recording.

April 14, 2005 at 07:29 PM · In my view several players give wonderful interpretations of the Brahms, including Kogan and Oistrakh. However, Heifetz' performances are the most dramatic and highly charged. For me, he is the ultimate on the Brahms. Kogan comes a very close second.

April 14, 2005 at 07:40 PM · Mutter's is my favorite, the attack that she delivers to the opening entrance of the violin theme is amazing. Generally Brahm's music speaks for itself, but the emotion that she played with, made the music seem even deeper. I don't no about the train accident story Christina was talking about earlier, but her later recording was dedicated to her first husband who died. Szeryng, Heifetz, and Kogan are for me tied in 2nd.

April 14, 2005 at 08:10 PM · I've only heard Hilary Hahn's recording once and it was on the radio, but I was very attracted to it. She has A huge wonderful sound in the beginning of the first movement. It almost like the notes are tangible. I also saw Gil Shaham play it live on TV! It was breathtaking! He has so much energy!

My favorite overall has to be Oistrakh and Szell/cleveland. He carries this tremendous piece with such grace and emotion. It's beautiful!

I'm interested to hear Rachael Barton's!

April 14, 2005 at 09:20 PM · Heifetz / Reiner

Stern / Ormandy

Hoelscher / Tennstedt

Oistrakh / Kondrashin

Ferras / Karajan

Stern / Ormandy is the one I grew up with, and will probably always be a favorite because of that. Heifetz really kicks this piece in the - um, you know. He puts some zest into what can seem an overly long work (for me). I like Oistrakh and Ferras for poetry, and Hoelscher for a pure out-and-out German performance: solidly footed, almost metronomical at times, heavy, clear brass, and all the rest of it.

(I'm of German extraction myself, so don't let that offend anybody!)

April 14, 2005 at 09:55 PM · Greetings,

Szigeti's last recording (1956?). The guy seems to go beyond the violin into a world of pure thought that is like nothing I have heard from anyone. He got over his nerves enough that there is no occassion when you are jerked out of your reverie by a bum note or passage. It all just sounds as it should be. Whatever that is...



April 15, 2005 at 08:37 AM · What recording do you consider to be the fastest and most agressive "without being tasteless" recording?

April 15, 2005 at 02:43 PM · Andreas,

Why do you keep asking this? It is tasteless if playing in a fast and aggressive way isn't in the score.


April 15, 2005 at 03:28 PM · Here we go...

Andreas, try Heifetz or Szeryng.

April 15, 2005 at 06:03 PM · Andreas, the answer woul d be Gidon Kremer's recording (I think with Bernstein). The last movement is definitely allegro giocoso but definitely not "ma non troppo vivace".

April 15, 2005 at 06:09 PM · "Why do you keep asking this?"

I like it faster and more aggressive then most people here. If the conductor and soloist likes it more aggressive then the score would suggest and plays it that way, it may actually sound better.

April 15, 2005 at 08:11 PM · To your ears perhaps. We all have our preferences of style and approach, but they don't always have anything to do the composers or their music, I'm afraid.


April 26, 2005 at 02:15 AM · Scott and Stephen, great guys, I am a Grumiaux freak myself and I also think that Szigeti's recording is one of the best ones, too bad all these guys nowadays know him so little. So, thank you Stephen for bringing that recording out and thank you Scott for mentioning Grumiaux's too!

I must confess though that I have with me always, wherever I go, the DVD with Szeryng's performance of this concerto. Now, honestly, where else on this earth can you listen to such a fantastic LIVE performance of this concerto?

I have been impressed twice in the past, listening to live concerts, the first one during the finals of Flesch competition in 1992 when Benjamin Schmid won the first prize with this concerto and the second time by Vengerov playing it in Montreux (CH) at the "Stravinsky" hall! Those two times I was really impressed by the perfection, mostly, I must say, therefore not being so sure I would go to listen to it for a second or third or a fourth time. Not the same situation with Grumiaux, Szigeti and Szeryng! I could, and I have done it, listen to their recordings hundreds of times...

I have listen to many others too:

Heifetz, impressive but too fast for my, I am a slow listener and I want to hear clearly and enjoy what one is doing there

Oistrakh, a model in my youth, still going back there from time to time :)

Hillary Hahn, a very, very strong one, if anyone is looking for technical perfection, there it is, and not only that, beautiful musicaly too, passionate and very strong, one of the finest too... just that I am more into the melancholical mood of the old ones... just personal :)

Milstein, I had to listen to it few times to let myself believe that is not cold; misterious, in a way, with a very reduced amount of effort, one can feel it but definitely enjoyable

Well, some others but the list of my preferences stops here, if I remember someone later I shall return!

Greetings to all!

... and all the respect for those who have ever played this concerto...

April 26, 2005 at 02:45 AM · Ooh, I never heard Rachel's recording, she is an old friend of mine from, he he, back to Brussels '93... I would like to hear this recording, I will look for it!

And many greetings to her if anyone sees her!

April 26, 2005 at 05:13 AM · Menuhin/Furtwangler, not least of all due to the conducting; easily the most overwhelming climax ever recorded in the 2nd movement...nothing like that moment in any other recording I've heard...

June 9, 2005 at 08:05 PM · Has anyone heard Menuhin with Rudolf Kempe and the Berlin Philharmonic? It was issued as an EMI LP and later appeared on a budget label CD - it has always struck me as a mature, mellow recording with fine accompaniment from an underrated conductor

June 9, 2005 at 09:37 PM · I love the recordings of Huberman, Heifetz, and Oistrakh for this concerto.

June 9, 2005 at 10:24 PM · Now that this thread is active again, I have re-read my remarks about Grumiaux made on April 14th. Upon careful listening, I have to admit I hear some (mildly) bad intonation on the recording, so I wanted to set the record straight and keep myself honest. I still like it better than any of the many others I have heard. I'm usually very bothered by bad pitch control. The performance is so majestic that I guess my ear simply overlooked it in this case.

Still need to check out Neveau's. Which one do y'all like better?

June 10, 2005 at 02:50 AM · I like Menuhin's recording with Kempe also. To my ears, Kempe has the best orchestral introduction before the violin entrance. It sounds so dreamy. Does anyone know how this compares with his other recording with Furtwangler?

June 11, 2005 at 11:13 AM · Liviu won 2nd place at the 1993 Queen Elizabeth and Rachel got 11th.

June 11, 2005 at 12:33 PM · I prefer the Kempe version much more than the Furtwangler version - Menuhin sound is much more natural and free in the Kempe - the Furtwangler recording is a bit to nasally for my taste

June 11, 2005 at 01:53 PM · i loooove Julian Rachlin's CD. :)) this phrases, intonation,this amazing sound...

June 11, 2005 at 04:53 PM · The Heifetz/Reiner record is amazing. Heifetz plays the first movement I think at the perfect tempo. Lots of other recordings don't do it for me cause the tempo changes a lot in the first movement. His cadenza is really a finger breaker too.

June 11, 2005 at 06:22 PM · I love the Heiftz recording also b/c, as it seems to me, he has a perfect balance between Brahms's romanticism and classicism.

June 11, 2005 at 06:35 PM · Just got Albert Spalding recording from 1955; not a big-boned, dark and gutsy approach but a lovely, lovely tone (superb vibrato) with highly personalized and most refreshing phrasing. Very individualized approach, which is echoed in the Hungarian Dances that complete the disc. The man clearly had much to say musically. A delightful surprise to discover him!

June 11, 2005 at 08:31 PM · both Heifetz recordings I have are extremely good, and along with Milstein's recording and Oistrakh's with the French radiofusion orchestra, are my favorite. the heifetz recordings have lots of fire and are brilliant techically. in one of them he does his own cadenza. Milsteins is ver nice to listen to, and he colors it with his unique position changes. Oistrakhs' is the ost singing and lyrical, and is overall my favorite. I have heard that there is a live recording of Heifetz out there that is phenomenal. it is issued by Music and Arts, but is not for sale in the US (besides the Juilliard book store)

June 19, 2005 at 09:22 AM · Over the years I have collected several recordings

of the Brahms that are exceptional and it would have been difficult for me to choose among a few of them; however, recently I have come across a most remarkable recording that puts them ALL on the shelf.

I have acquired a live radio recording of IDA

HAENDEL from 1953 playing under Sergiu Celibidache

and the London Philharmonic. The power, technique, energy and rhythm of Haendel in this recording are absolutely phenomenal. This performance has moved into my all time top ten of all violin recordings.

She blew my socks off and spun my wig. WOW !!!.

June 19, 2005 at 11:16 AM · Szeryng. Any of the recordings. Why? Because I think that his feelings are the most authentic.

I don`t understand why people see Brahms = force (as a reason for choosing Oistrach ,Heifetz etc), isn`t an intelectual force needed in playing Brahms?


June 19, 2005 at 04:59 PM · i really love nigel kennedy's brahms... why? because to me, he seems to pour his entire soul into the concerto and like the previous post says, he doesn't do what a lot of players do and play the concerto forcefully... he seems to just let it flow

June 20, 2005 at 12:07 AM · Surprised no one has mentioned Erica Morini.

She's got a terrific Brahms!!

June 20, 2005 at 02:17 AM · i agree with sorin completely. Szeryng is my favorite. I especially like his performace on the EMI DVD. For more contemporary players, Hilary Hahn and Anne-Sophie Mutter (with karajan) also have excellent recordings

June 20, 2005 at 03:35 AM · >Surprised no one has mentioned Erica Morini.

She's got a terrific Brahms!!<

I would love to hear that. I used to have a record of her playing The Devil's Trill, and it was stupendous. Morini could play!

June 22, 2005 at 01:45 AM · oistrakh, neveu, szeryng, accardo, and heifetz are my favourites.

August 26, 2005 at 06:16 PM · I have listened to Anne-Sophie Mutter's CD many times. I prefer this recording for Brahms Violin Concerto. I like her feeling for this work and her trills are of amazing clarity! I have heard people talking about Vengerov's version being superb. I have yet to listen to that recording.

July 28, 2006 at 03:01 PM · My favorite is the recording by Axel Strauss with the Budapest Philharmonic.

July 28, 2006 at 03:47 PM · Gidon Kremer with Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Gorgeous tone and dazzling array of colors; with breathtaking intensity and beauty; the third movement played joyously.

July 28, 2006 at 04:51 PM · Hi Ferras/Karajan recording for me, i never hear another Ferras work that like me, next Szeryng and Heifetz, new versions? Kennedy and Hahn recs in this order.

July 28, 2006 at 06:09 PM · I'm with Mr. Schafer on the Kremer.

My other favourite: Franz Peter Zimmerman.

July 28, 2006 at 06:40 PM · Milstein and Szeryng ones are great !

Mine is not so bad too... :o)

I love the clearliness of Milstein, between the notes and on the notes.

I love the purity of Szeyng for his moving interpretation, but full of respect for the composer.

For the orchestra, maybe Abbado is one of the best. Karajan was not excellent in it, but Ferras had a magnificient sound !

For the Double Concerto, one great version with Shaham and Wang. a great concert with Ilya in it in Lxbg too !



July 28, 2006 at 08:17 PM · Hilary Hahn for her intonation and intensity and beautiful tone, and Gil Shaham for his phrasing, timing and fresh take on the piece. I also like Szeryng's a lot for most of the same reasons.

July 28, 2006 at 08:14 PM · Jim: I see that your discussion has be resurrected.

If I had all the money I'd like to have, I'd buy every one of the above recommendations. I like 'em all. But, when all is said and done, I keep coming back to (in no particular order):

Heifetz/Reiner (& was it Koussevitsky?)

Menuhin/Furtwangler (or however you spell it)

Milstein, Szeryng, and Oistrakh /anybody conducting

Grumiaux/The old, out of print performance



Hubermann (live performance; it is on CD. And what a great link to the past; he played it as a child with Brahms in the audience)

Ricci (believe it or not)/the performance with all of the different cadenzas. It really is a lovely performance of the Concerto.

July 28, 2006 at 08:27 PM · My favorite is Anne-Sophie Mutter's recent recording with Masur. Everything just seems so...right. Her usual display of colors and shading are used throughout, and she always seem to use these special effects in the right places. She payes great attention to detail, she can do things with the vibrato that no other violinist can, but there is also an extra dose of passion and fire that makes this possibly the best recording of this masterpiece ever.

Not to mention her fabulous technique. Mutter could be the most technically accomplished player I have ever heard. Just listen to the way she can run up and down the fingerboard, without breaking a sweat! Her bow attacks are all very crisp and clean as well.

July 28, 2006 at 10:33 PM · Hi everyone, The answers have attracted a wide range of anwsers. For those who have nominated Mutter say - you need to qualify which Mutter (i.e. with Karajan or Masur), Oistrakh (Klemperer or Szell), etc. Some respondents have just said that they loved the Oistrakh. That's too ambigiuous. Sorry!

For myself, I like the Heifetz-Reiner (what speed, precision and technique), Mutter-Karajan (what power and integration with the wonderful BPO but her wiry tone and wide vibrato leaves me wanting a nicer sound and narrower vibrato), Milstein with Fistoulari (Oh! So fiery, fast (Heifetz-like), passion, precise technique-wise (1 flat E in the last mvt though)& you've never heard Milstein play like that ever before on his other CDs) and also the D Oistrakh/Klemperer (magisterial command and granite-like tone).

Others that I like are:- Oistrakh-Szell (so hymn-like in the 2nd mvt - 1 of the very best 2 mvt, but this one is marred by Oistrakh's waning technique in some passages in the 1st mvt - do you hear the intonation in the double stopping as flawed ACE, DFA chords in the beginning of the rhythmical double stopped passages etc?) and the Kogan-EMI with Kondrashin.

I have a whole lot more versions like Perlman (2), Vengerov, Mutter-Masur, Szeryng, Shaham, etc but have not got around to sampling them this time around. Will come back to you guys & gals later.


July 29, 2006 at 07:22 AM · Mutter/Masur - a beautiful recording-Mutter's romantisicm at its best.

Shaham- superb recording and gorgeous tone

Ida Haendal - her interpretation is unique.

Oistrakh - marvelous technique and tone-his tone colours-unbelievable.

lots more-Menuhin,Kennedy,Perlman,Kremer

July 29, 2006 at 12:51 PM · I have GOT to get my hands on that Haendel-Celibidache recording.

Celi is probably my favorite conductor because he's so score adherent. He brings out all the voices, plays the proper rhythms, and is a very personalized conductor. I don't always agree with what he does (Le Tombeau de Couperin with a Forlane that's a bit slow for me and a Menuet that's a bit fast), but he always produces COLOR and that's why I like him.

I would've loved to been able to play any concerto with Celi, although his 10 hour rehearsal thing would've killed me.

July 29, 2006 at 03:52 PM · Best Brahms concerto? Henry mentioned it earlier. There's a live recording of Heifetz with Szell and the New York Philharmonic in 1935. It's better than his studio recordings, and it blows away everyone else for sheer gutsy edge-of your seat playing and ridiculous technique. It's released on the DoReMi label. I got it in the Juilliard bookstore.

July 29, 2006 at 04:26 PM · For the Brahms concerto on Monday, I prefer, Heifetz or Ricci...Tuesday, it's Perlman, 1st Wednesdays of the month are for Kremer alone..Thursdays, usually Zuckerman or Shaham....Fridays: Lautenbacker or Schneiderhahn....Saturdays, I relax with Mischakoff or Stern.....Sundays are special...I listen to Sascha Boulov or Louis Stevens...(sometimes Guila Bustabo)but the following week, begins with Kreisler or Carroll Glenn....but always Brahms !

July 29, 2006 at 05:37 PM · I think the Mutter/Masur recording is definitive...

July 29, 2006 at 10:22 PM · For this concerto I love the recordings of Shumsky and Kreisler. I love the culture and the nobility they bring to this music.

July 30, 2006 at 03:05 AM · Heifetz. For one reason, really. Listen to the end of the first movement after the cadenza. The sound he produces up in the stratosphere on the last hearing of the main theme is to die for. Perfection. I never heard another violinist produce such a sound. Milstein, Oistrakh, Stern, Perlman et al. have many virtues, but none of them could do that (at least not in a recording session). I did hear Milstein play it live once -- the performance sticks in my memory as a great reading. Milstein was best heard live.

July 30, 2006 at 03:10 AM ·

July 30, 2006 at 11:43 AM · I second Heifetz, his tone, tempo and rythmic drive are unrivalled. The later recording is a better one - flawless.

July 30, 2006 at 12:02 PM · I agree with Franck, Heifetz is pure magic in this passage, after the cadenza, and eve, more sio in his first recording, with Koussevitzky.

There are at least two live recordings, one with the NYPO under Toscanini (this is the Doremi cd, 1936 I believe), another under Szell in the early 50ies, published by Music and arts.

As for Ida Haendel, her recording with Celibidache is a studio recording (one of the only ones he agreed to do), not a live concert.

Together with Heifetz, my other favorite is Huberman, NYPO, Rodzinski (also on Music and arts). The second movement especially is out of this world...

And of course, Milstein: again, there are 3 or 4 studio recordings (my favorite is with Steinberg, Pittsburgh), and at least 4 live performances (Monteux-Amsterdam, De Sabata-NYPO, Kertesz-Radio France, Leinsdorf-Radio France), and a film of a London concert on DVD.

July 31, 2006 at 04:00 AM · The Menuhin/Furtwangler is really something; I think Menuhin inspired Furtwanger to heights he rarely reached. Specifically, the second movement's climax is overwhelming; I've heard at least 20 different recordings of this and no other conductor has ever marshalled his forces to reproduce anything close to the magnitude and power Furtwangler generates. I'm sorry I don't have the score so that I could specify the exact moment I'm talking about, but I'd bet that any discerning listener, who knows this piece would (upon hearing this version) instantly know what I'm referring to. In any case, it's quite thrilling to clearly see how the interplay between conductor and soloist can inspire each.

July 31, 2006 at 05:42 AM · I'm with Mr.James Pichardo on mutter's recording with Masur,for her fantastic control of volume and colour.

August 1, 2006 at 06:30 PM · my absolute favourite is Uto Ughi, it's absolutely fantastic. It's super clean, really musical and passionate, exciting... the list goes on and on...

bye bye

August 2, 2006 at 08:24 AM · Heifetz had an extra edge with this piece much like his performances of Korngold and Bruch. The recording of Heifetz playing Brahms with Chicago is absolutely divine.

August 2, 2006 at 01:30 PM · I think I mentioned this in another thread some time ago. During the Heifetz/Reiner/CSO recording session of the Brahms, they got to the 2nd movement. The orchestra began with that beautiful oboe solo played by Ray Still, the legendary Chicago Symphony oboist. When it was time for Heifetz to come in with his solo, instead Heifetz applauded Ray Still and said that his playing was simply beautiful (or he may simply have said "bravo"). Anyway,it made Reiner and the Orchestra happy, of course, but Still had to play the thing again in the same masterful way (and he did, as you can hear in the recording). How many times in your life do you get to hear a Jascha Heifetz applaud your playing?


August 2, 2006 at 01:33 PM · Today I listened to the Mutter-Masur. It did not move me. Mutter with her stop-start approach (sometimes fast/other times slow manner) breaks up Brahms' Classical structure. Her playing is not flawless and Masur's handling of the NYPO is light weight and not anywhere as good as Karajan/Berlin PO in her earlier recording. That was on the way to work.

On the way back from work, I put on Milstein & Fistoulari. Magnificently played - fiery and yet at times reflective at a very steady speed, the Brahms VC gains by having the structure intact. It is one of the vest best versions I have heard.

Tomorrow on the way to work, I'll put on Vengerov & report back to the forum.

August 2, 2006 at 01:46 PM · My favorite Brahms is Szeryng/Dorati and Oistrakh(anyone)--quelle surprise! Reasons, musically clean without being clinical. I've tried really hard to like the Hahn/Marriner recording but to me she sounds as anemic as St Martin's in the Field in this music. Music isn't all about notes--largely but not all!

August 2, 2006 at 02:57 PM · Hello! I'm back from wherever I was and I see that it's time once again to make the almost-out-of-print Grumiaux/VanBeinum/Concertgebuow available again! With all due deference to the great performances mentioned, I still think this is the best Brahms ever recorded. Far better than the commonly available Grumiaux/Davis recording. The orchestra and conducting are magnifent, and AG was in a rare, passionate mood that day in 1958. The ending has never been more theatrical or perfectly-timed. Links follow:

Last time I posted this, the place went nutz!

August 2, 2006 at 04:08 PM · Hi, Scott: Haven't forgotten about you. I listen to the Grumiaux regularly. Thanks again. It is indeed a great performance. Sandy

August 2, 2006 at 05:03 PM · I agree, simply amaizing Grimiaux perfomance. Thanks for sharing.

August 3, 2006 at 01:41 PM · I listened to the Vengerov/Barenboim/CSO performance and I prefer it to the Mutter/Masur/NYPO. In all respects, the solo & orchestral playing and conducting is of higher quality than the Mutter & Masur CD.

August 3, 2006 at 05:01 PM · Didn't Szeryng teach Mutter? Also, I read earlier that someone had mentioned that she recorded this after her husband died in a train wreck. I'm pretty sure her husband died of cancer, and she performed a Mozart sonata recital dedicated to him the night after (I doubt a recording session of the Brahms was involved ).

August 3, 2006 at 05:52 PM · Rachel,

YEs, Anne-So first husband died of cancer and she played the day after...



August 5, 2006 at 02:26 PM · Someone mentioned earlier that Szyerng's Brahms was aggressive and fast. I think his intrepretations in general are marked by restraint and noblility, hence the great interpretation of the Brahms.

August 8, 2006 at 02:49 PM · In my opinion, it depends on the movement, so my favourite recordings are:

-1st movement: Heifetz, Oistrakh, Stern, Francescatti.

-2nd movement: Grumiaux, Schneiderhan, Ferras.

-3rd movement: Szeryng, Milstein, Perlman.

It´s a pity that some (probably) wonderful recordings are not released. For example, there is a BTH recording from the 3rd movement, where the soloist was M. Rabin, and J. Hassid performed this Concerto on the BBC (Is there an archive recording, perhaps?). I expect in the future these (and other) mysteries can be solved.


August 8, 2006 at 07:47 PM · that would be pretty incredible if it's true...

August 8, 2006 at 09:41 PM · Quick, everybody blitz the BBC with a thousand e-mails! We ARE getting that recording released!!

August 8, 2006 at 11:28 PM · If I don´t remember bad, New Grove´s Dictionary speaks about activities by Hassid before his nervous breakdown, and mentions some recitals and concert performances in London, including Beethoven and Brahms Concertos, in which one of the partenaires was one of the BBC Orchestras. I only put a question, not an afirmation, about the possibility for a recording in BBC archives. Of course my desire is that the answer would be 'yes', but perhaps with time...

August 9, 2006 at 01:00 AM · We need to research this! If there is any possibility of there existing a Hassid Brahms, we need to find it! :)

August 9, 2006 at 01:05 AM · If the performance was broadcast, it is recoverable whether it was recorded or not. It may require highly sensitive equipment and space probes.

August 9, 2006 at 02:38 AM · Whoa--that would be pretty cool. :)

August 9, 2006 at 04:02 AM · I'm talkin rockets. White coats. A cool code name. Computers that work. A movie about it starring Nicholas Cage as the amateur musician science genius in midlife crisis persuing Hillary Hahn as the sound of Hassid barreling across the universe at the speed of light. Cameo by Jodie Foster and Leonard Nimoy pushing each other in wheelchairs.

August 13, 2006 at 05:05 AM · I have a recording of Szeryng. I love it because of all my Brahms recordings, it's the closest to how I play it. Or how I WANT to play it!

August 29, 2006 at 01:07 AM · Having not listened to it for years, I just "rediscovered" the classic Menuhin/Furtwaengler (Lucerne Orchestra) performance. What immense heart. The performance is so deep, so compelling, so intense. It is truly more than the notes. I'm sure most of you are familiar with this performance. The Kreisler cadenza in the first movement is beyond words. If you haven't heard it in a while, give it a listen. Nobody ever played Brahms like this. And, incidentally, David Oistrakh admired this performance immensely; Oistrakh was another violinist who understood what it means to play with heart.

August 29, 2006 at 04:51 AM · Yes, Sander. This is also among the finest, if not THE finest, Furtwangler on record. The climax in the second movement is surely the single most overwhelming moment produced by any conductor in this piece. (And no, I have't heard every recording, only about 25 of them, so yes, this is feeling statement, but if you listen to it and disagree I'd be most surprised.)

August 29, 2006 at 07:40 AM · Those were special days...

"Nobody ever played Brahms like this." I was going to whole-heartedly agree with you, Sander, in the sense of its tragic intensity, more so still than in two earlier, live and also memorable performances of Menuhin's I know. As Alan says, that has something to do with Furtwangler, their associations were special (Beethoven, Bartok 2). Then I remembered that there is a live Ferras recording that I mentioned on a recent thread (on the French archive INA label) that out-menuhins Menuhin, including in the Kreisler cadenza. Overwhelming to the point of unbearable. This was someone about to fall into a literally suicidal spiral of despair, but crucially his performance stays just on the right side of the dignity/hysteria divide.

To my mind, Neveu's Brahms is the most all-encomapassing. Menuhin's finale with Furtwangler is to me a tad earnest, though that's in keeping with the interpretation as a whole.

Best, Nathaniel

August 29, 2006 at 11:08 AM · Alan and Nathaniel: I loved reading your comments. I've never heard the Ferras; I'm going to look for it. And I haven't heard the previous Menuhin performance, and I'll try to find them also. I have the Neveu, and I love that, too. What is it about these violinists from an older era?


August 29, 2006 at 03:10 PM · Neveu live with Schmidtt-Isserstedt?

August 29, 2006 at 03:11 PM · Sandy,

Neveu studied with Enesco when aged 11 and he was deeply impressed with her musical understanding such at a young age...Menuhin and Ferras did also studied with Enesco...I think it has to do with "individual sound" and uninfluenced musical perception...During those years, there were many different ways of playing the violin, different views.Today,it is different.And it is easy to listen to any recording of any artist.Students in the 30,s did not have such an easy access to recordings...They were more attending the concert hall...


August 30, 2006 at 12:20 AM · Marc: Yes, I agree. I think that the modern recording era has seen remarkable advances in communication quality, quantity, and availability in the past half century. This has certainly resulted in higher musical and technical standards and a much greater exposure to the great violinists. But, indeed, maybe it has also resulted in a kind of universal standard and less of an environment where individuality will develop. Where are the great "schools" of yesteryear that differed so much from each other? Maybe the great violinists of today are more similar to each other than the great violinists of yesterday. There are lots of sides to this view, I know. I'm not saying that one is better than the other - just different. But, heck, where is the next Menuhin, the next Milstein, the next Enescu, the next Szigeti?

Cordially, Sandy.

August 30, 2006 at 01:07 AM · I love the Gidon Kremer recording with the Max Reger Prelude as the cadenza.

You get two pieces for the price of one!

August 30, 2006 at 02:11 AM · Sander,

There's only ONE Szigeti! :) (and the others of course...)

August 30, 2006 at 03:55 AM · The next Menuhin would probably be criticized for playing out of tune, the next Milstein would be criticized for being cold, the next Szigeti would be criticized for having a wobbly tone, and the next Enescu would be criticized for using a febrile vibrato. And I seriously doubt that any of these players would get past the first round in any violin competition.

But they'd still sell tons of CDs on the Internet and perform on the violin to delighted audiences.

August 30, 2006 at 03:59 AM · Jim spoke of Rachel Barton. I saw her live playing Dvorak. I also have a few CDs of her. She's a flippin amazing violinist! Also a sweet girl. She can probably do anything on the violin!

I haven't heard her brahms, but I'd really like to pick it up.

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