Recordings of the Paganini 24 Caprices

April 18, 2005 at 04:39 AM · I could have sworn I saw a thread on Paganini's 24 Caprices, but I can't find it, so I shall start a new thread on it. :D

Whose recording of the 24 Caprices do you think is the best? Two separate categories: technique-wise and music-wise?

Replies (49)

April 18, 2005 at 05:04 AM · I remember this thread... so try Sorry, I don't remember who put this site on the board, but I am really thankful to that guy who pointed it. You will really enjoy listening to Massimo Quarta's playing of 24 Caprices, his outstanding 'singing technique'.

April 18, 2005 at 09:06 AM · Hi,

Another stupid one of these threads. I also object to the seperation of technique-wise versus music-wise. There is no such thing as a great musician without technique, and if you have technique and are not a great musician, then what's the point.

Anyhow, good recording of the complete caprices are the first one by Ricci, Michael Rabin's, Perlman's, Shlomo Mintz's, Midori's and James Ehnes's (which is unedited--each caprice was done in a complete take). That would be my list of recordings of the complete caprices. Of course, there are individual caprices by different artists that are great, but the list is too long.


April 18, 2005 at 09:21 AM · Christian,

I absolutely agree. But let me add Kavakos (the cleanest and most in tune I have ever heard) and Ilya Kaler's (which is budget and extraordinarily musical).


April 18, 2005 at 01:12 PM · I like Kaler's, and the price is right.

April 18, 2005 at 01:37 PM · Menuhin recorded some of the caprices - 6, 9, 13, 20, 23 and of course 24. All of them are amazing - though I find that 6 is a tad disheartening, the movement between notes is so clean and perfect but the stationary notes are sometimes out of tune, whereas Kogan's caprice no 6 is totally mind blowing - amazing!

April 18, 2005 at 02:22 PM · Another vote here for Kavakos.

April 18, 2005 at 03:36 PM · I don't think it's 'stupid' at all to differentiate between "Musical" performances and "Techinical" performances. The difference between the two should be quite clear to most people: The musical moves move your spirit, the technical ones move your mind.

Somestimes it's just fun to listen to something just to see how fast it CAN be done...And generally, even the performers who show off their technical prowess are extremely musical too.

For the caprices, I like Accardo, Perlman, or Midori. And, on guitar, Eliot Fisk (who is really quite amazing).

April 18, 2005 at 04:35 PM · My list is: Kogan, Menuhin (I'm second to Adam), Rabin, Kavakos, Perlman... About Quarta, I wrote above,... just listen. It is new view, new 'reading', good taste and beautiful sound.

Joseph, thank you for mentioning Eliot Fisk.

April 18, 2005 at 04:46 PM · I love Quarta's. I ordered it.

April 18, 2005 at 06:17 PM · Mt two favorites are Rabin and Ehnes.

April 18, 2005 at 07:45 PM · I'm not a big fan of the caprices...but Michael Rabin is mindblowing. I think they were done all in one take, and they are spectacular.

April 18, 2005 at 10:55 PM · Shlomo Mintz owns the capricci. It is his greatest record, and this from someone who doesn't generally like the caprices that much. I generally think the proof of greatness is the handling of the fifth caprice, which is to say that even if 23 are perfect, a poorly handled fifth breaks the deal for me. Not that the fifth is the 'hardest', but it generally requires compromise: Some emphasize extreme speed over accuracy, some accuracy over speed. Perlman goes for speed and produces a sloppy result. It is also hard to make the bookending arpeggios sound like music. Mintz doesnt need to compromise anywhere, and is flawless.

April 19, 2005 at 12:27 AM · I rather enjoy the goofy set with Schumann's minimalist piano accompaniment recorded by the old guy who held his bow about three feet in the air and had an amazing tone and erratic but phenomenal bouts of inspiration...what's his name...oh yeah, Tossy Spivakovsky. The Vanguard CD is really a hoot. Ricci's 1947 hell-bent-for-leather set is good for a joyful and inspiring laugh too. Gee, I'd love to hear the Minz. (Does he really make Minz-meat of everybody else?)

April 19, 2005 at 01:12 AM · Zimmermann, and Quarta.

April 19, 2005 at 04:20 AM · I have Massimo Quarta's recording of Paganini's 6 Violin Concertos, played on Paganini's Violin and it's really good!!! I didn't know he recorded the 24 caprices, how does he sound? How do i get a Recording? Do they sell it at amazon? Quarta is my favorite violinst for Paganini's concerto's. Thanks

April 19, 2005 at 05:06 AM · Jacob, as I wrote above, try

April 19, 2005 at 06:53 AM · Rick,

Thanks for mentioning Zimmerman. Probably the most underrated violinist alive. I saw him play a beautiful Mendelssohn concerto last year, followed by an encore of Paganini's 'God Save the King' variations... wow. =0


April 19, 2005 at 07:08 AM · "Perlman goes for speed and produces a sloppy result"

Perlman has always been to sloppy to be called the greatest violinplayer in the world if you ask me.

Regarding Kaler´s Capricci´s. I think he plays pretty bad on that recording actually. Too much scratches and squeels even for a budgetrecording.

Ricci´s first is the best I have heard without any doubt.

The young Ricci is propably the only recorded violinplayer that plays with so much fire that you forget that his intonation is unsteady.

April 19, 2005 at 11:00 AM · Hi,

Carl, it's true about Zimmerman. I don't understand why he's so underrated. I've seen him 4 times in concert and each one was simply spectacular. He is always consistent. I don't get it...


April 19, 2005 at 01:12 PM · Look for the recording of the caprices with

Thomas Zehetmair. It sounds "correct" and well thought without unnecessary display.

Oistrakh recorded (as you all know, I hope) the caprice no.17. Not a single scratch there. Perfect tuning and sound. And no.13 with Yampolsky at the piano.

April 19, 2005 at 02:09 PM · Quarta, Accardo, or Ricci. They "keep it Italian", so to speak, in the way Paganini would have done it. Szeryeng (spell?) too. I think the modern younger players, and most of the old Russians just go to far by Russianizing or Galamianizing it.

Just my two cents.

April 19, 2005 at 04:43 PM · "most of the old Russians just go to far by Russianizing or Galamianizing it."

I can't agree with this phrase. "Old russians" like Kogan and Oistrakh were not only great violinists who deserved their place among those who moved to highest level all history of performance, but also they were well educated in other fields, like music theory and history, and they knew very well all about styles and were competent enough about expression of all compositions they played. Oistrakh never started practicing a new composition until he deeply studied it in all aspects. Though he almost didn't record Paganini, these two caprices we know were made with complete mastery. I don't hear any russian intonations in their playing (IMHO).

April 19, 2005 at 06:05 PM · Once again Rita described perfectly what I have been trying to explain about Oistrakh etc...

There's no such a thing as "old russian" or "old any nationality". Oistrakh was as young as any young performer at the time of the Paganini recordings. Time here is timeless and with no effect. He is above all comparisons. He simply continues to watch over all of us, for through his recordings he continues to teach and inspire those willing to listen.

Thank you Rita.

April 19, 2005 at 06:35 PM · Oistrakh was young? He was almost 40 :)

There is a recording with him playing cap 24 with piano too, simply amazing.

Speaking of Paganini, Oistrakh's la campanella is also great, he was a good Paganini player, superb technique, deep musicality an a constant beautiful tone.

April 19, 2005 at 07:51 PM · I love Rabin's recording of the Paganini caprices and they remain my favourite, though James Ehnes' are also very good. I have several caprices of Kogan, though not the complete set. A great pity!

April 19, 2005 at 08:17 PM · Mattias:

Almost forty means late 30's. That's pretty young for the phenomenal work he had already accomplished.

By the way. Are you sure Oistrakh recorded La campanella? I do like to think I have all Oistrakh's recordings,perhaps I don't, and besides the two caprices the other Paganini I know he recorded was the Variations on G String on theme by Rossini.

Let me know.


April 19, 2005 at 08:19 PM · Ricci's 1st recording of the caprices is truely amazing - I'm actually going too buy a DVD of his doing the whole 24 caprices in the late 70's or 1980's...can't remember the date, it'll be an interesting viewing

April 19, 2005 at 08:21 PM · When I say Russian or Galamian I speak not of any nationality, but rather the sound of the schools. It is known to be played with a heavy, rich, and deep tone. I don't disagree that the sound is beautiful.

But Paganini in my opinion should be played with a springy rich tone, not chocolate rich.

April 19, 2005 at 09:48 PM · Amadeu,

Oistrakh certainly recorded La Campanella. It is used as a background track in "David Oistrakh: Artist of the People?".


April 19, 2005 at 09:54 PM · Greetings,

I think Oistrahks wonderful Paginini originates in his deep love and understanding of opera.\



April 20, 2005 at 12:50 AM · What is the name of the CD that has Oistrakh playing Paganini's La Campanella? None of his discographies list that he recorded La Campenella. There is a live performance of Stern playing the La Campanella live from france in 1953 that just got released on CD. For all of you who thought Stern couldn't handle a Paganini piece, I suggest you try to listen to this recording. It is probably the best version I've heard of the La Campanella.

April 20, 2005 at 05:19 AM · The Oistrakh La Campanella is from a live concert. He introduces the piece himself aloud, it has not yet been released on cd as far as I know. Caprice 24 is from a radio recording session and I have not seen that on Cd either.

April 20, 2005 at 12:30 PM · Thanks for the info Mattias.

April 20, 2005 at 01:12 PM · Carl:

Tonight I'll review the tape "Oistrakh,Artist of the People". I'll pay attention to La Campanella. I've never seen Vinyl,pre-recorded tape nor CDs of the piece with Oistrakh.

Just a bit of info. There is a live recording of Liszt's transcription of the piece for the piano with Emil Gilels in the early 50's that keeps me going back to the LP from time to time. Umbelievable recording.

August 10, 2007 at 02:01 AM · interesting Ivry Gitlis recorded 24 caprices

anyone listen to that recording?

August 10, 2007 at 03:07 AM · Even though I'm not a fan of this thread, I thought I'd add Soovin Kim.

August 10, 2007 at 03:22 AM · An interesting recording is with David Garrett (a former pupil of Ida Haendel and Itzhak Perlman) on Deutsche Grammophone. Aside from his great playing, another thing unique about this recording is that the Paganini Caprices are also played with Robert Schumann's piano accompaniment. Check it out. It's very fascinating.

August 10, 2007 at 03:56 AM · Chris: Yes, I have that recording of Gitlis. Do you know the story behind it? Gitlis recorded that in the 1970's and really hated ihis own recording. His friends/colleagues including Zubin Mehta and Martha Argerich loved it very much and considered it to be the most out of this world recording of the Paganini Caprices. Still, Gitlis refused to have it released commercially. So until now, it was sitting in the vault of the record company all these years until he decided to sign off on the release. I think the world will be forever grateful that he changed his mind to share it with us.

August 10, 2007 at 04:12 AM · There is an English friend who swears by a version by Kawaciuk. Anyone know who this player is?

August 10, 2007 at 07:10 AM · Alexander Markov - also available on DVD.

August 10, 2007 at 11:41 AM · Ivan Kawaciuk (1913 - 1966) was a Czech virtuoso and an enfant terrible of the postwar generation of interpreters, one of the most original representatives of the Czech violin school. His recording of the Paganini caprices, made between 1956 - 1958, was reissued on CD by Supraphon.

Two more excellent versions of the Paganini caprices op. 1 are the ones by Ricci from 1950 and by Michael Pikaizen.


August 10, 2007 at 12:38 PM · I'll stick with Ossy Renardy. Luscious sound, Italianate line. Not bad for a Wiener.

August 10, 2007 at 02:34 PM · Roland - when did Supraphon re-release the CD of his version (Kawaciuk's) Caprices? Thanks.

August 10, 2007 at 04:59 PM · I read in a book that francescatti recorded the Paganini 24 caprices for columbia... Anyone heard of that or have the recording?

August 11, 2007 at 07:18 PM · rabin ehnes mintz kavakos markov kaler zimmermann midori - all worth having

recorded some but worth getting:

kogan heifetz milstein kubelik

i didnt like it:

perlman accardo ricci menuhin

August 11, 2007 at 07:56 PM · I haven't heard many recordings, but I for one do like Salvatore Accardo's performance--he gets a real devilish quality to it, as well as an inimitably Italian flair. :)

August 11, 2007 at 10:21 PM · I have that Cd with David's quite good...but he was very young so many caprices could be better. i think an amazing recording is from Leonidas Kavakos..he was 19...and it's incredible!!!

August 12, 2007 at 11:45 PM · I find the CD of the Caprices by Shlomo Mintz to be a little harsh, but I absolutely love Leonidas Kavacos' recording.

I'm hoping Augustin Hadelich records them. The performance I heard of his no. 24 was mind-blowing.

August 13, 2007 at 06:49 PM · Chris:

So far as I know (and I'm pretty sure) Francescatti only recording some of the caprices for Columbia. They were available on Biddulph (I think) for a while. there is also a live one from another lable (Music and Arts?) that has the same ones plus #17. He uses a piano accompaniment by an Italian composer.

From a technical view, it always seemed that the Rabin one is the best complete set. But there are others that are good.

I have wondered about the Gitlis one. I suppose I will break down and get it one day.

On the interesting side, Milstien recorded, I think, about 10 of them in 1929, which would have been his first recording. However, he didn't like the performances (something about wrong notes)and they were destroyed.


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