Our Favorite Pieces and what makes them special

December 6, 2005 at 07:01 AM · Hey I know that alot of people on here have a wide selection of music in thier homes. I am running out of music to look for. I think we should all tell everyone about our favorite and most unique pieces we have heard and own. I will start.

Tchiakovsky's Violin Concerto

Tartini's Devil's trill

Bach's Partia no. 1 in B minor

Paganini's Violin Concertos no. 1 & 2

Brahms Violin concerto

and Mozart's VIolin concerto no. 4

are among my most favorites.

I also have another question please tell why you like the pieces you do and what makes them special. Also if anyone has the dvorak violin concerto in a minor on mp3 I need it, lol.

Replies (31)

December 6, 2005 at 03:54 PM · The Tchaikovsky concerto...just because.

The Mendelssohn...ok, so it's overplayed, but when a player finds something fresh in it, it's unreal.

The Walton violin concerto...I guess not many people think this piece reflects WWII, but I beg to differ. It's such a fantastic moody piece.

The Prokofiev concertos...at the moment, I like the first better than the second. I love the harp/flute/violin part toward the end of the first movement. The main theme of the concerto always gets stuck in my head.

The Barber...the second movement is like a movie score.

The Sibelius...I'm Norwegian and German, and I relate to the Scandinavian chilliness of this one.

The Scottish Fantasy...so heartfelt and saucy. (In fact, I love this one so much, the registered name of my new dog will be Scottish Fantasy.)

The Sonatas and Partitas, of course...just for their architecture and melody and brilliance. The d-minor Chaconne is my favorite movement. It's understated, but dramatic - on a huge scale, but intimate - long, but rewarding. It holds the sorrow of the world.

And for my "rarity piece", I choose the Finzi cello concerto. I love it ten times more than the Elgar concerto: it's a true masterpiece. Earth-shattering!

Man, and that's not even starting...I can't even begin to list all of my favorites. I love them all, in their own unique way. One amazing thing about classical music is its amazing breadth of style: you can go from Mozart to Brahms to Shostakovich to Adams, all incredibly different people with incredibly different compositions, and still stay in the same genre.

December 6, 2005 at 10:58 PM · I think the top of my list would be occupied by only one piece - the d minor chaconne. "It holds the sorrow of the world" - that's exactly what I feel about it, Emily! Awesome statement! It has everything - epic grandeur, triumph, sorrow, pain, joy - just in the space of a few hundred bars.

Sibelius - I see the icy tundra of Finland every time I play the opening to the first movement. It has a heartrending theme in the first movement, and the second movement is a beautiful love song.

Brahms - Can you get much better of a violin entrance than the first page of the first movement? I think, for pure intensity, this and Shostakovich #1 take the cake. The orchestral scoring is great, and the third movement, for me, is an expression of pure joy and laughter.

Tchaikovsky - It's a wonderful epic fairytale, with high drama and beautiful melodies. The third movement is just fun to play, period. And, in my opinion, it has two of the best bravura endings (first and third movements) ever written!

Beethoven and Mendelssohn - These are both masterpieces of form and beauty. They have such sparkling perfection. ( which makes them so darn hard to play well!! ) The part in the first movement of the Beethoven where the violin takes the melody in triplet broken octaves is one of my favorite in the whole repertoire!

These are just a few! I could go on for hours! And is this post restricted only to the violin repertoire? Because there's so many great symphonies too...and of course the chamber music literature...

December 7, 2005 at 12:58 AM · Vitali arr. Charlier - Chaconne in G minor. I have Heifetz, Rosand, Sarah Chang, Bin Huang on CD for this. Under-rated piece - technique-wise - you can learn a lot from it. ery well written & arranged.

December 7, 2005 at 01:10 AM · No Nic, if have anything at all to say about music period I'm sure everyone would love to here it. I'm waiting for someone to say something wonderful about the brahms symphonies(personally I don't think it's gets any better)

December 7, 2005 at 05:12 AM · Cheng, you should listen to the Francescatti version of the Vitali. It's with orchestra and, imho, blows aways all the rest.

December 7, 2005 at 05:25 AM · Hmm...so hard.

Barber concerto - has to be one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had performing this concerto as part of a concert I put on earlier this year not to mention a hugely emotional piece that makes me melt to pieces and search my sould everytime I hear it.

Hovahness concerto for violin and strings - Simplistic, beautiful, sorrowful and sheer beauty.

Walton violin concerto - nothing like sitting in the 6th row in front of an amazing violinist (James Ehnes) with an awesome orchestra. I love the moods, drive and force behind this work.

Complete Sonatas and Partitas by Bach. What can I say without leaving something out about how truly amazing these are? They are impossible to fully learn and grasp and they feel new almost everytime I play them and they are an intense, amazing experience to perform when your in the moment with them.

That's the very, absolute tip of the iceberg - no that's like someone putting a pin in the tip of the iceberg.

Some non-violin based stuff.

Pictures at an Exhibition - Wow! Being in the middle of an orchestra during the Great Gates of Kiev and feeling the vibrations and hearing the sounds as the envelope around you as 80 people work towards this triumphant, glorious ending is one my orchestral career highlights so far.

Dvorak String Quintet Op.77 - I have special memories of hearing this piece performed at Domaine Forget and sitting outside, watching the faculty (one of them being my teacher for that session) rehearse this in the "barn" with the huge side door open. To hear them working on it all week and then hear their concert, the final concert I attended - amazing.

Mahler's Symphony No.9 - How can anyone write such a personal work full of their personal life and the tragedies they go through?

Again, the very tip of the iceberg....there's just such a huge wealth of great music out there and it's hard to know where to even begin and to even do something like this without feeling guilty for having left so much out.

December 7, 2005 at 10:17 PM · Rick Barker - Which label for the Francescatti orch version please? Thanks, Cheng

December 7, 2005 at 10:24 PM · -Mahler 9th Symphony, especially the final movement

-Bach's B minor Mass

-Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony

-Slow mvt. of Bruch Violin Concerto No.1

-Enescu's String Octet

-Any Brahms Symphony

-Rachmaninov's 2nd Symphony

-The Lord's Prayer from Miklos Rosza's 'King of Kings' score

-Ysaye's Poeme elegiaque

-The final scenes from Wagner's Gotterdammerung

-Slow mvt. from Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony

-Final scenes from John Williams' score for 'E.T.'

-Many, many others...

December 8, 2005 at 04:39 AM · My heart's favorites...

Bruch Violin Concerto No.1

Bruch Violin Concerto No.2 (1st mvt.)

Dvorak Cello Concerto

Dvorak Piano Quintet (4th mvt.)

Elgar Violin Concerto

Glazunov Violin Concerto (I had to listen to it over 20 times, and I never liked it, until one time I suddenly fell in love)

Grieg Piano Concerto (1st mvt.)

Mahler Symphonies 1, 5 (the only ones I've heard >_> His music is on a different level and I really feel it)

Sibelius Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky Symphonies 5, 6

Glenn Gould's entire recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I - Every Prelude and every Fugue are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!

These are just the ones that touch me very personally...of course I have other favorites but they aren't as special, and it would really take forever to list them...

December 8, 2005 at 05:53 AM · Cheng, it's still only in Vinyl. Pity too, as it's fantastic!

December 8, 2005 at 03:37 PM · Fav piece is Bach's Concerto in A Minor for Violin III. Allegro assasi. Specifically off this typically superb harmonia mundi release.

December 8, 2005 at 03:47 PM · I love Manze's interpretation of the entire piece...great recording.

December 8, 2005 at 04:13 PM · Yes, I find myself either listening to the disc in the car or the mp3's at work more often than anything else. It's the best classical recording I've bought to date. Manze is really good as is Rachel Podger (? dont have it in front ome to check name). Ironically he also plays on the worst classical cd I ever bought, the Correli Sonatas.

December 8, 2005 at 10:58 PM · Well, in addition to the usual (that is, the usual concertos and sonatas of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Bartok, etc.) that everyone lists, I've got a few things I really like to listen to. These include:

Bach Concerto for 3 violins (arranged from a harpsichord concerto) and Cantata #4.

Beethoven string quartets #9 and 16.

Hindemith Violin Concerto and Kammermusik (spelling?) #4.

Tchaikovsky 3rd Symphony (Polish).

Bartok Quartet #4 and Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta.

Elgar Piano Quintet.

Virgil Thompson Cello Concerto.

There's more, but I can't think of it at the moment.

And while we're on it, an all time favorite is that old warhorse, Sheherizade (the Rimsky-Korsakov one, but spelled correctly). This has to be one of the most melodic and most beautifully orchestrated pieces of music ever written by anyone. And the violin solos are truly heavenly. I have never gotten tired of hearing it.

Same goes for the Paganini 2nd Violin Concerto. Paganini is so often overlooked as a great composer, but where he differs from his successors in the violinist/virtuoso/composer tradition is that his music is truly vocal. It's like he's writing an opera for a supervoice. Just listen to those melodies. Instead of considering them corny, try listening to them as operatic melodies. I'll bet that if they were in an opera rather than packed away in violin concertos, everyone would be singing them. That's why, I think, violinists like Menuhin and Kogan and Rabin play these concertos so compellingly. It's not just the technique, it's the singing as if it's an opera. Listen to the old Menuhin/Fistoulari Paganini 2nd; you can almost hear words.

Sorry to ramble.

December 9, 2005 at 12:20 AM · Sander, you are my man!. Very few know Menuhin-

Fistoulari Paganini's second. He put his hart in front of your ears in the second mouvement. When

I heard it, made me almost cry. Is one of the most moving recordings I've ever listen to. I got it on

an old argentine 10" LP but in very good condition.

and I made it copied to CD. Its my favorite version.

December 9, 2005 at 12:49 AM · one unique piece i've always liked is the sinfonia antarctica by ralph vaughan williams. it was scored for the film scott of the antarctic (great film btw) and some of the unused music was released on the chandos cd vaughan williams: film music vol. 1. powerful, bleak, and haunting pieces you won't soon forget esp. after watching the film.

December 9, 2005 at 04:00 AM · Mozart Jupiter Symphony

Schubert Cello Quintet

Brahms B Major Piano Trio

Szeryng (sp?) Bach sonatas/partitas

December 9, 2005 at 12:40 PM · 'Poème' Chausson

Enescu 3rd sonata

'Fratres' Pärt

Beethoven & Brahms violin concerto, my ultimate goal!!!

many others

December 9, 2005 at 01:45 PM · Carlos: Thank you. Yes, that Menuhin performance has always been one of my very favorite recordings. The fast passages are, well, heroic. And the slow movement, as you say, just makes you want to cry. That is one performance I never get tired of listening to. They should re-issue it on CD.

Cordially, Sandy

December 9, 2005 at 01:43 PM · For me, the most magical piece of music is Strauss' Heldenleben, particularly the final part "The Hero's retirement from the World and the Fulfilment of his life". This is very closely followe by Walton's Viola concerto.

I also never tire of Smetana's first quartet and Schubert's Death and the Maiden.

I'd love to know if these and other pieces I like have some kind of similar harmonic pattern or structure which draw me to them.

January 28, 2008 at 03:52 AM · As much as I love the violin repertoire, there are some Mahler songs which are just unparalleled. Love Han-Na Chang's Kol Nidrei -- very spiritual, not too shmaltzy. I also must second the Rimsky-Korsakoff; there's nothing in the world like that cymbal crash on the CMaj7 chord out in the last movement.

January 28, 2008 at 04:41 AM · The usual answers we see (Tchaik/Sibelius/Brahms concerti, etc.)

Mahler 5 & 6

Tchaik 5

Dvorak 7 & 8

Saint Saens Intro & Rondo Capriccioso

Strauss - Eine Alpensymphonie

January 28, 2008 at 05:16 AM · In addition to the wonderful choices such as Bach Chaconne, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikowsky, and the great symphonies as well, I'll list a few short pieces that, for their brevity, have great soul:

Bach: Andante from the A minor Solo Sonata and the slow movements in C# minor from the E major Violin Concerto and the E major Sonata for violin and harpsichord- all possess that wonderful duality of great sorrow and resignation juxtaposed with hope and optimism that reflect so honestly the ups and downs of human existence.

Finzi: The Romance for Strings- such remarkable melodic gift with exquisite harmonic shifts and changes of mood and the Clarinet Concerto for its drama and enthusiasm and wonderful folk- song like third movement.

Brahms: The Clarinet Quintet- if ever a pieces expressed the autumn of life, this is it!

Dvorak: Humoresque ( the famous one since this is part of a set of Humoresques)- a piece of beguiling mood with that "old country" feeling of longing for home and hearth.

Schumann: Traumerei- this innocent theme full of hope and tinged with sadness but ultimately smiling gently captures a mood few other pieces can lay claim to- I feel similarly about the slow movement of the A minor sonata

Glazunov Violin Concerto- the whole piece is a marvel of orchestration, deft mood changes and rich harmony and beautiful melodies. It sparkles!

Strauss- Emperor Waltz- something about the melodies has a wistful quality that feels like smiling through tears.

Debussy- Claire de Lune and Ravel's Pavane Pour une infante defunte for the beauty of their melodies and rarified harmonies- they seem heaven-sent.

Elgar-Cello Concerto for the depth of its melancoly and heart felt expression of a world and a life that has pased never to return and Salut d'amour for its graceful melodic arch and simple but effective accompaniment.

Tchaikowsky- Souvenir of a Beloved Place, No. 2 , Melodie- as concise and perfect in its nostalgic view possessing all of Tchaikowsky's considerable melodic gifts and his favorite harmonies (like the chord of the flatted sixth degree of the scale)- so apt for the mood they evoke.

Gershwin- Bess You Is My Woman from Porgy and Bess- a more perfect love duet can't be found (though Puccini often rises to the occasion just as well)

There are many others, but I fear my list will be too long. So much wonderful music, great and small.

January 30, 2008 at 01:13 PM · OK, one more little tiny encore piece that doesn't get much attention: Kreisler's arrangement of Tartini variations on a theme of Corelli. Three violinist-composers for the price of one. An ideal encore piece. Musically and technically satisfying, and with a beautiful melody, wonderful variations, drama, emotion, immediate appeal to an audience (as well as to the performer), and a quality of almost sounding like an inspiring national anthem. Best performance on record? - David Nadien.

January 30, 2008 at 10:50 PM · Greeitngs,

Sander, did you ever hear Taschner play? I htink you`d like him :)



January 30, 2008 at 11:50 PM · Ginette Neveu has a wonderful recording playing Tartini-Kreisler Variations. And I agree with Stephen: Taschner´s recording is awesome too.

January 31, 2008 at 02:11 AM · Haven't heard it; I'll look for it. But, anyway, how can you not love the piece.


January 31, 2008 at 03:04 AM · The two pieces that are special for me are:

1. Beethoven Spring Sonata for violin and piano

I was watching a japanese drama and when the guy was taking his violin exam, he was playing this piece. I fell in love (even his intrepretation was very unusual). I was thinking, maybe I should learn violin

2. Bach Partita E (Gavotte en rondeau)

Another japanese drama, this deaf girl was playing this and push me over the limit

So these two pieces motivated me to learn, so they will always have a special place in my heart.

January 31, 2008 at 04:57 PM · Bach S&P

Prokofiev 2nd sonata (originally for flute?)

Brahms sonatas

Beethoven sonatas

Debussy sonata

Paganini caprice #24

October 11, 2016 at 04:07 AM · Brahms Concerto

Kabalevsky Concerto

Wienawski Concerto 2

Schumann Violin Fantasy C Major

Saint-Saens Concerto 3

Lalo Cello Concerto

Shostakovitch 5th Symphony

These all have personal meanings for me for various events in my life, which causes my interpretation of them to be sometimes odd.

October 11, 2016 at 04:37 AM · Sorry to say this on the violin blog, but the finest piece of music ever written is the B Minor Piano Sonata by Franz Liszt. That piece is a cascading firestorm of romantic pianism. An absolutely riveting and thoroughly majestic composition.

Shostakovitch 5th is high on the list ... nice pick. I like Scheherezade too, but I can't listen to that more than once a year.

For violin, I am quite partial to the sonatas of Franck and Debussy, and I like how they are played on ASM's "Berlin Recital" CD. My favorite concertos are the Mendelssohn and the Sibelius and the Prokofiev No. 2.

Schubert Trout Quintet and Dvorak Dumky Trio, Mendelssohn E Flat Major Octet Op. 20, Dohnányi Piano Quintet No. 1, Brahms Piano Quintet Op. 34, Haydn Quartet Op. 20 No. 5, Beethoven Quartet Op. 131.

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