Best CD of Tchaikovsky VC

November 30, 2005 at 05:11 AM · What's the "best" CD version of the Tchaikovsky VC? For me, Leonid Kogan with Silvestri on EMI is non-pareil. Such tone and technique! Not to mention a very "Russian" interpretation.

Replies (59)

November 30, 2005 at 05:50 AM · i like perlman's

November 30, 2005 at 06:46 AM · The first Stern/Ormandy version.

November 30, 2005 at 06:52 AM · I like:

Perlman, Susanne Hou, Cho Liang Lin, Gringolts, Oistrakh (obviously) and Milstein. I'd love to hear Ehnes play it as well.

November 30, 2005 at 07:22 AM · Heifetz owns Tchaikovsky.

November 30, 2005 at 07:28 AM · I second Kogan.

November 30, 2005 at 07:59 AM · Gringolts & Shaham.

I want to hear Ehnes play it too! AH!

November 30, 2005 at 08:14 AM · Friends - Besides Amy, no-one else mentioned Kogan - his version on EMI Encore is a steal. I mentioned his version 'cos I have most of the others mentioned (Heifetz, Perlman, Oistrakh, etc). To me, Kogan owns this VC - technically and musically. Such a powerful tone produced on his Guarnerius, rhythmically secure and also some lovely shadings of tone & very vivid characterisation.

November 30, 2005 at 08:58 AM · heifetz is too fast...its just too fast. beautiful at times but the overall feeling is lost, as is the case with many of his concerto recordings. I love tretyakov's recording and stern/ormandy

November 30, 2005 at 11:29 AM · No one is best. But I like several of them, even just for variety. However, the Francescatti is superb.

November 30, 2005 at 12:18 PM · Greetings,

and then there was Huberman.



November 30, 2005 at 01:22 PM · Bell(?)

November 30, 2005 at 03:54 PM · My "desert island" violin recording is actually Ehnes playing the Tchaikovsky (I recorded it live off of the radio in 2002), but Heifetz's rendition is brilliant, too. There's a one-minute video excerpt of a Tchaik performance of his floating around somewhere online (is it from the Art of the Violin?) that just blew my socks off. It was the last unbelievable bars of the first movement, and it is the essence of Heifetz - fast, clean, and absolutely masterful. (If someone has the link to that, I would love to see it again, because I've never found it since I watched it the first time.) I hear Oistrakh and Repin made excellent recordings, but I haven't listened to them yet. I didn't mind Anne-Sophie Mutter's recent Korngold/Tchaikovsky release, but I know some people thought it was atrocious. I know I didn't like the phrasing in Perlman's recording very much, but I heard that one a long time ago, and my opinions may have changed.

Those are my picks off the top of my head... This is such a beautiful work and it runs the gamut of human emotion.

November 30, 2005 at 04:05 PM · And Kogan, too - forgot that small detail.

November 30, 2005 at 04:21 PM · My favorite version has been Milstein's old recording with Frederik Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I think it has been reissued on CD.

Can somebody tell what's up with another Milstein version where he plays the slow movement with his mute on? Is the score marked that way? I never heard it done that way and it inhibits the range of tone available, IMO.

November 30, 2005 at 04:43 PM · Emily: The one-minute ending of the first movement with Heifetz is on the Art of Violin, which is out on a DVD. I have no idea where the original is, or whether it was the whole concerto that was recorded. But is certainly is fabulous and Heifetz at his best in music tailor made for his genius.

Getting back to (ahem) the Francescatti, there are several passages he plays that are to me more exciting than anyone else. Give it a listen.

November 30, 2005 at 04:50 PM · Leila Josefowitz's debut Tchaik on Phillips with Neville Mariner and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields is quite good. I believe she was 17 or 18 when she made it.

Emily - you're absolutely right about the Heifetz Art of Violin clip! It's insane! What makes it even more insane than a lot of other recordings is that he plays the Auer version on the third to last page - a bunch of thirds, sixths, and a run in broken tenths leading up to the final presto, rather than the normal arpeggios - and nails it. Hardly anyone plays that version anymore!

November 30, 2005 at 05:06 PM · I have to second the Shaham recommendation. His cadenza in the first movement is so clean and some of his slides are hair-raising. He also really smacks the double stops. By the way, has anyone else noticed that you can hear him breathing in some of his recordings? It doesn't bother me; I was just wondering if other people have heard it.

Is the Francescatti recording only available in his box set with all his other violin concerto recordings, because I think that's out of stock.

November 30, 2005 at 05:12 PM · Kennan: The Francescatti is with Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic. It's on a Sony Masterworks Heritage (MH2K 62339), and I believe it is still readily available. 2-CD set with Mendellsohn, a great performance of the Prokofiev 2nd Concerto, the Saint-Saens 3rd, and a few other things.

Sandy Marcus

November 30, 2005 at 05:15 PM · My fav is the that spelled correctly!? Very passionate recording.

November 30, 2005 at 05:26 PM · Scott, to my knowledge, I haven’t heard the recording you refer to, where the soloist plays the second movement with the mute on. The score I have does, indeed, indicate con sordino at the end of m. 12 of this movement, where the soloist enters. The direction senza sordino doesn’t appear until the soloist’s first entrance in the third movement.

The score I have is very old and on large paper — probably from the early 1900s — published by “D. Rahter, Hamburg und Leipzig.” It’s part of a large collection of violin and other sheet music I inherited from a neighbor’s library during my student days. This lady was a very accomplished violinist. About a year after her passing, her daughter was in the final stages of closing up the estate and gave me, as she put it, “first crack at it [the collection of sheet music],” rather than ship it off to some museum.

I agree with Sandy that no one recording is best. It’s a matter of opinion. One recording of the Tchaikovsky that I especially like is Oistrakh/Ormandy. I don’t know how long ago it was recorded, but I found the overall pacing and nuances very pleasing. The total sound — depth, clarity, and so forth — pleased me a great deal, too.

November 30, 2005 at 05:49 PM · Heifetz/Reiner Chicago Symphony; musical nirvana.

November 30, 2005 at 06:05 PM · "I have to second the Shaham recommendation. His cadenza in the first movement is so clean and some of his slides are hair-raising. He also really smacks the double stops. By the way, has anyone else noticed that you can hear him breathing in some of his recordings? It doesn't bother me; I was just wondering if other people have heard it."

I for one have heard it. You didn't ask if it bothers anyone else, but yes it does! I love Shaham but find his nose-playing very distracting. Perhaps he needs an, er, trim.

November 30, 2005 at 06:27 PM · In respose to Liz.The Heifetz clip is from his truncated 1st mvt featured in the movie "Carnegie Hall". It is available in VHS and DVD.

November 30, 2005 at 06:47 PM · So many good choices. My favorites (in no particular order):

Oistrakh/Ormandy, Elman, second Mutter recording, Gringolts

November 30, 2005 at 07:55 PM · I want to get that DVD but don't want to spend the money just to watch one movement of Tchaikovsky which is probably the most exciting thing on that DVD. I wish the whole thing was on it.

November 30, 2005 at 08:25 PM · Hey all, thanks for your responses about the Heifetz Tchaikovsky. Good news: I found the link to the one-minute excerpt!!! Click on Heifetz and then "watch a performance." To see that live... It doesn't seem humanly possible. His economy and control are stunning. No unnecessary movements whatsoever.

November 30, 2005 at 09:01 PM · Yes, the second movement is con sordino.

November 30, 2005 at 11:01 PM · "From Amy Fetherolf:

Yes, the second movement is con sordino."

Yes, but have you ever heard it performed that way? I hadn't, until now.

November 30, 2005 at 11:03 PM · From Jim Hastings:

"Scott, to my knowledge, I haven’t heard the recording you refer to, where the soloist plays the second movement with the mute on. The score I have does, indeed, indicate con sordino at the end of m. 12 of this movement, where the soloist enters. The direction senza sordino doesn’t appear until the soloist’s first entrance in the third movement."

Thanks Jim, very interesting. The Milstein recording in question is with William Steinberg conducting the Pittsburg SO, on Seraphim. It's good, but I dislike the muting in the solo part.

December 1, 2005 at 12:02 AM · I've heard the second movement played with a mute probably at least half of the time.

December 1, 2005 at 02:09 AM · Greetings,

I`ve heard it played with a mute, a deaf person and a visually challenged person. Must have been a British string quartet arrangement...



December 1, 2005 at 02:25 AM · Ah! But have you heard it with only one leg?


December 1, 2005 at 03:03 AM · You can really hear Ilya Gringolts breathing in his Tchaikovsky/Shostakovich recording too. It's REALLY apparent in the Shostakovich Passacaglia. It adds to the sentiment and I like it. I would probably be breathing like that too hahaha

December 1, 2005 at 04:54 AM · Greetings,

Scott, I use my ears.



December 1, 2005 at 03:55 PM · Anybody here apreciate the undervalued violinist Ivry Gitlis? Granted, his vibrato can be very wild an a turn-ff at times, it can be very beautiful as well. Kogan's recording left me speechless the first time I ever hear it. Milstein is definitely up there on my list. Now, don't all throw your bows at me, but Heifetz's recording never really did anything for me *cowers in a corner*.

December 1, 2005 at 05:31 PM · Well George, I'll be cowerin' right next to you. Heifetz was great, but I could live in a world without Heifetz.

December 1, 2005 at 06:01 PM · Hey Julie! We all know how u have a massive crush on ilya. U should really see yourself lol...u sound like a groupie.

December 1, 2005 at 06:22 PM · That's not so nice.

December 1, 2005 at 08:48 PM · I have a cruch too....

December 1, 2005 at 09:50 PM · Greetings,

calm down my boy. Your Freudian (gym) slip is showing,



PS I have a crush/crutch on everybody.

December 1, 2005 at 11:58 PM · According with his discography, 0istrakh recorded

this work at least 9 times, since 1938. I've this

version and it's great. An other fantastic one is

Repin's with Arnold Katz in 1984. He was just a kid, and plays with an extraordinary stamina and fire.

December 2, 2005 at 03:24 AM · Tia, you made me turn PURPLE for about ten minutes!!!!!!!!!!! >_< Oh, so what if I have a crush on Ilya? His Shostakovich is hot!

Btw, what is a groupie? LOL

December 2, 2005 at 10:04 AM · Yes old man, I have felt your crutch on several ocations, and I still claim that it wasn't me who took your cookies.

Btw, they tasted good, I've heard...

December 2, 2005 at 11:22 AM · No one mentioned Christian Ferras and Von Karajan. This CD (Deutsche Grammophon) is a great opportunity to listen to this forgotten great French violinist. He was Von Karajan best violinist.

He was doing everything that you have been told not to do: his left hand never properly at the positions, always in between, holding his violin with his shoulder, holding his bow with the thumb curved the other way round, a very high elbow and playing with his shoulder in the small detaches. In fact he always told his students to never do the same think as him.He was a student of Charles Bistesi himself a student of Eugene Ysaye. he wan the prestigious competition Marguerite Long - Jacques Thibaud aged 16. His technique was amazing and his sound was unique and never been copied.

He committed suicide at the age of 49 after alcoholism and depression, and this recording of Tchaikovsky violin concerto his a good example of this great artist.

December 2, 2005 at 02:42 PM · I never knew how amazing Ferras' technique/playing was until I saw him on video recently. Amazing. Actually, his set up and position reminded me of Heifetz a little.

December 2, 2005 at 06:12 PM · To follow up on the Francescatti version, there are actaully three on cd (I think they are all still available). The first two are amoung the best, though very French. The first is a live performance from the mid 40s with Rodzinski. The sound is quite good for the conditions -- I have no probelm lstening to it. The Mitropoulos verison from 1954 is only slightly less good, though I prefer Rodzinski's conducting. The last version, with Schippers, is fine, but his technique was not quite at the same level and Columbia's emphasis on making the sound brillant made the violin tone wirey.

The two Huberman performances (one is live) are quite good (the man should be held in higher standing). I also like Heifetz, Milstein, and Gitlis (same as many things, I guess).

December 2, 2005 at 09:24 PM · I agree with you completely. The early 50's Francescatti (just before the stereo era) were I think his salad years. There are moments in the Francescatti Tchaikovsky (Mitropolous) that are more satisfying (to me) than anyone else. Other passages are different. And I do like Heifetz, Milstein, and Gitlis, and Hubermann. There's a live Huberman performance (with the Brahms), which as you said is terrific. And Ricci's recording of the Tchaikovsky is actually excellent and very thrilling. There are so many. The Perlman live performance in Russia, the Oistrakh (zillion different versions), Kogan, and on and on, not to mention the contemporary players. It seems that there is something about this concerto that brings out the best in a lot of violinists. It is extroverted and theatrical and is Tchaikovsky at his most inspired.

I once heard a live performance with the Chicago Symphony and Henryk Szeryng. It was Szeryng at his best, and note perfect. He played with his usual (to me) emotional reserve and lack of abandon, but who cares. It was great.

December 3, 2005 at 07:19 AM · Hi - I have not heard Ferras/Karajan. The Ferras on Testament Tchaikovsky is awful. However, its coupling the Brahms Double on Testement is one of the best ever. I do not like Huberman - it is very rhythmically lax.

December 3, 2005 at 02:19 PM · Yes, but Huberman is a style that is almost a throwback to at least a century ago, and from that point of view it is really fascinating to listen to him. And, you must admit, he had a heck of a technique. On one of the CD collections of Huberman, there is a performance of a Chopin piece that is incredible. Unfortunately, I forget which piece and which CD. But his erratic tempos and archaic vibrato seem just right.

December 3, 2005 at 03:21 PM · I think you mean the double Biddulph with the Columbia and Berliner recordings,LAB 081-2. Has several Chopin's-Sarasate and Chopin's-Huberman

nocturnes transcriptions. The Berliner are from

1899/1900, probably the earliest violin recordings

ever made.

December 3, 2005 at 06:06 PM · Right, that's it.

June 6, 2012 at 01:33 PM · Only few have mentioned Gitlis. I think his is one of the most exciting, adventurous and interesting one to listen to, not only in Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, but in anything he does = D

June 11, 2012 at 07:41 PM · Milstein "dares" to lay the whole 2nd movt with a mute - as Tchaikovsky wanted: a sweet, elfin rendering.

My favorites? Elman 1930, Oistrakh, Rabin, and a 1949 radio(?) recording by Menuhin: technically superb, and lyrically nostagic without a trace of vulgarity.

June 11, 2012 at 07:58 PM · Midori did a great live recording.

June 12, 2012 at 12:36 AM · Lovers of this concerto shouldn't miss the fine version by Alfredo Campoli with the London Symphony under Argenta.

June 13, 2012 at 02:41 PM · Here is another CD with the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto for your ranking:


June 18, 2012 at 11:06 PM · Hirshhorn forever

June 19, 2012 at 05:16 AM · Just four members have listened to "another CD with the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto for your ranking: " so far. It's clearly typing over hearing here, which surprises me a little bit.


June 19, 2012 at 06:07 AM · FMF, we're too busy practising. But thanks for your second post: I had missed the first.

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