Favorite recording (not recordings) of the Sibelius Concerto

January 8, 2006 at 10:38 PM · What is everyone's favorite recording of the Sibelius concerto? I'll start...I recently purchased Isaac Stern's 1969 recording...it's greeeeaaat (do I owe royalty to Tony the Tiger?) He plays with such passion as he maintains such demand of the piece and the instrument. Another note, all of the Sul G passages are so clear and robust with none of that excess sliding we hear so much nowadays. Also his chords are like little bursts of energy...great stuff, I recommend this!

Who's next!

Replies (99)

January 8, 2006 at 10:54 PM · gil shaham

January 8, 2006 at 10:54 PM · Hi Oliver...I'll have to give Gil a whirl...usually everything he records comes out amazingly well

January 8, 2006 at 11:05 PM · 1. Frank Peter Zimmermann

2. Sergey Khachatryan

3. Sarah Chang

Ordinarily I prefer older players, but on this piece, these are the only three recordings that do it for me.

January 8, 2006 at 11:23 PM · He explicitly said recording, not recordings, Amy. Sheesh!


January 8, 2006 at 11:37 PM · David Oistrakh---the stunner of all times on this piece. There are reissues of the old Angel recordings. Recorded with Alexander Gaulk and the Moscow Radio Orchestra

January 9, 2006 at 12:33 AM · sarah chang

January 9, 2006 at 12:46 AM · Call it fate or whatever? I was listening to D Oistrakh, Moscow RSO, G Rozhdestvensky this morning. A great version as is his Philadelphia Ormandy recording. I somehow did not like Heifetz's latest stereo - the way he plays the over-3-string cadenza (1st mvt) was weird in my opinion.

January 9, 2006 at 03:21 AM · There are several I like, including many already mentioned. I'd add Gitlis and Ricci and Francescatti (which really is beautiful). I also like Menuhin, whose playing (technically) leaves a few things to be desired, but what PASSION. I also have an old performance (on CD) by Tossy Spivakovsky; it ain't perfect, but some passages are stunning. I agree about the Oistrakh and the Stern. Stern's playing, especially in the 3rd movement, is in a class by itself.

January 9, 2006 at 03:47 AM · Joshua Bell. Was my first taste of the Sibelius and I'm hopelessly enamored with his cinematic interpretation. Glad to see Sarah Chang is on people's lists, though, as I'll be seeing her perform it in March.

And I'm still waiting for Andrew Sords to record this, as per Jonathan's stellar referral.

January 9, 2006 at 03:58 AM · jack benny

January 9, 2006 at 03:59 AM · hehe I prefer Jack playing Drdla's Souvenir at warp speed :-)

January 9, 2006 at 07:03 AM · I'll be seeing Sarah Chang in the Sibelius in mid-2006 with the Oslo PO & Sinaisky.

January 9, 2006 at 07:04 AM · I also like Akiko Suwanai's performance on a Walton & Sibelius VC SACD.

January 9, 2006 at 09:43 AM · My primer has to be Kavakos. His soul vibrates with the music, it is just amazing.

Secondly Lin. Mostly because it is so well recorded.

Third is even between two very different accounts, Kraggerud, a very noble playing and Gringolts that is SOO romantic.

Kraggerud plays with obvious influences of Tellefsen (a superb recording) and Heifetz. Noble, heroic and brilliant.

Gringolts on the other hand plays more intimite. He doesn't throw his feelings on you but rather invites you to discover them. His legato way of playing reminds quite a bit of Perlman, but the feelings are entirely his own. At times he draws very long lines in the music with in some ways reminds of how Milstein played, but perhaps more pulsating romantisism. Well worth investigating

January 9, 2006 at 10:35 AM · Dylana Jenson-0rmandy

January 9, 2006 at 10:39 AM · Music Minus One

January 9, 2006 at 01:34 PM · Hi,

I second the votes for Gringolts, Kavakos and Lin. I cannot pick a favourite. The question to me doesn't work as I like different things about different artists and the list is long with this piece. So, I'll mention two more not mentioned yet... Ginette Neveu and Christian Ferras in that EMI DVD.


January 9, 2006 at 01:48 PM · Nigel Kennedy would have to be my favourite.

Mind you the Sibelius Violin Concerto is my absolute favourite v.con and it totally captivated me the FIRST time I listened to it which incidentally was NIGEL KENNEDY so I might be some what partial to his interpretation.

(you know how sometimes the first recording just seems to be burnt into your mind...anyway)

The Heifetz is...decent...lol

January 9, 2006 at 02:26 PM · Rosand is very good.

January 9, 2006 at 02:27 PM · yeah heifetz is decent ;) hey, uh, hes not bad.

my favorite recording I have is of Ilya Kaler. I have a dvd of his performance with finland radio symphony right after he won the sibelius. it cant be beat...energy, perfection, finesse.

January 9, 2006 at 02:43 PM · I do think that many excellent recordings have been already named here, I am still very surprised that Heifetz did not come up first on this list.

There is an absolutely incredible recording of him playing it live.

January 9, 2006 at 02:53 PM · Mattias - really liked what you wrote and described here. I gravitate toward romantic interpretation - you've given me some good ideas on what to listen to next.

January 9, 2006 at 02:58 PM · Mattias is a close friend with romantic playing :-) Will you be using the Ferdinand David Cadenza next time you perform the Beethoven Mattias?

January 9, 2006 at 05:32 PM · It is leaning in that direction, but I am thinking of rewriting the end of the first mov. cadenza. But is is a truly lovely cadenza!

January 9, 2006 at 07:40 PM · I didn't mention the Gringolts and Kavakos performances, but they are wonderful too. It's very tough to pick one favorite. Maybe there is something about concertos like the Sibelius and the Tchaikovsky that bring out the best in great violinists.

January 10, 2006 at 12:01 AM · Midori's recording of the 1st movement is absolutely incredible. I like Anne-Sophie Mutter's more ... over the top? ... approach better in the 2nd and 3rd movements though.

January 10, 2006 at 04:26 AM · It should be against the law to perform the Beethoven with anything but the Joachim cadenzas.

January 10, 2006 at 04:25 AM · Does anyone have Leila Josefowicz's Sibelius on her debut recording with Acadamy of St. Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Mariner? I think it's an excellent recording.

January 10, 2006 at 07:35 AM · Midori and Mutter all the way...

January 10, 2006 at 07:36 AM · Its strange because I normally dont like Sarah Changs playing a whole lot, but her sibelius is simply to die for. The second movement? you havent heard it played until you hear chang play it. Recordings like that are what keep my interest in classical music alive saying "wow this is the 1 millionth recording of this concerto I've heard and it proves that the piece keeps on getting better."

January 10, 2006 at 07:36 AM · Viktoria Mullova/Ozawa/Boston. Her recording debut, about 1986. It's on Philips, but I think it's out of print.

There are tons of incredible recordings out there, though, as there are of all the great concerti. Often it depends on my mood - whose approach to Sibelius do I feel like listening to today?

Saw a rec. by Yuval Yaron at Tower but didn't buy it. Tennstedt conducting. I admit I'm curious.

January 10, 2006 at 08:01 AM · Hey, Ars, don't forget to give me back my FPZ Sibelius recording :D

January 10, 2006 at 08:08 AM · I agree with the Chang, and even more because it is a live recording...(mutter's kind of resembles a heifetz-like aura...but I don't really like his interpretation)

our very own IG's album is a jewel as well...

January 10, 2006 at 08:13 AM · I'd love to get my hands on the Kavakos recording.

January 10, 2006 at 10:12 AM · Jonathan Frohnen - Yes, Stern's is a fine version but I find that his rhythm (in bars 21 & 22, 1st mvt) just marginally off. Regards - Cheng.

January 10, 2006 at 01:25 PM · How about Dmitri Sitkovetsky?

January 10, 2006 at 01:56 PM · Hi Nick...I love everything about Leila's except the third movement...I think she's way too rough with it, the sound is muffled as she digs in so hard.

On another note...on that same CD is the Tchaikovsky Concerto...that is a great great recording and is my favorite.

Here's a fun piece for you to give a whirl Nick...let me know what you think. And of course the rest of violinist.com I'd love opinions on this one. Thanks go to my friend Joseph Gold for letting me browse his collection and allowing me the piece!

Caprice on Dixey

January 10, 2006 at 02:50 PM · Thanks Jon!

I have the recording but did not think that the score was published :)

January 10, 2006 at 03:11 PM · Hiya Matty ;-) You must have Maud Powells recording...she makes many cuts...you'll enjoy this version much more!

January 10, 2006 at 03:23 PM · You obviously haven't played/heard the Ferdinand David or Vieuxtemps Cadenzas for the Beethoven concerto David L. :-) Or the Hubay, Ondricek, Spohr, Schnittke...etc. ;-)

I'm not saying neglect the popular...I'm just saying keep your mind open to the performances of the neglected.

January 10, 2006 at 03:25 PM · Jonathan:

Where do you find all this stuff? I have the Powell recording but had never seen the music anywhere.

I forgive you for liking the Stern/Ormandy Sibelius recording, which I have long considered the worst recording of this piece I've ever heard. If you like Stern, get the Beecham one, it's much better. My favorite is Francescatti. Heifetz and Gitlis are excellent, too. I caught the last movement of Kremer a while back, that was superb.

You wouldn't happen to have a copy of Sauret's Farfalla, which Maude Powell also played?

January 10, 2006 at 03:32 PM · I have it...it's just not scanned in yet...I'll add it to my list for you!

January 10, 2006 at 04:20 PM · I agree with Sords. Midori and Mutter!!! Midori's is just so different from other recordings. I love her smooth sound and phrasing.

January 10, 2006 at 04:21 PM · Jonathan:

Thanks,I've been trying to find that for years!

January 10, 2006 at 05:19 PM · '69 Stern. That gets my #1 vote.

January 10, 2006 at 07:23 PM · Good choice William ;-) When are you going to let me debut you!? I found a new company that you might be interested in...email me later...it'll let you debut yourself. Actually let me submit this link to anyone interested in getting recorded.

Endeavour Classics

They specialize in rare and unexplored rep. I will be willing to help out anyone who wants to record depending on what they would like to record and how they play...Nicholas Tavani certainly look at this!

January 10, 2006 at 06:49 PM · I agree with K G...Stern? I don't think so.

Amy, when are you back? Of course I still have your recording...why don't I give it to you at Yours Truly that Saturday... :) Uptown is calling us...

January 10, 2006 at 10:56 PM · Hey Jon, you're right, Leila's Tchaikovsky is something else...thanks for the Dixie Caprice! It looks really cool! If I can get my dumb printer to work, I'll read it tonight after I'm finished practicing...it'll be a nice respite.

As for Sibelius recordings, one of Heifetz's numerous recordings of the piece ( I can't remember the date and orchestra offhand ) is far beyond his other recordings of it, and its definitely up there on the Great Interpretations of Sibelius list, in my opinion.

January 11, 2006 at 01:49 AM · I am surprised that nobody mentioned Yulian Sitkovetsky. A wonderful recording!

David Lillis

January 11, 2006 at 03:11 AM · David Lillis - No Sitkovetsky is because the CD is probably in low circulation. Regards - Cheng

January 11, 2006 at 08:44 AM · Again in low circulation (on Hanssler Classics),and with Marriner and St.Martin in the fields, Dimitry Sitkovetski's version is absolutely amazing, My personal favourite.


January 11, 2006 at 11:24 AM · There are maybe a hundred versions of Sibelius v.c.

Some are already rarities,like:





Guila Bustabo-Fritz Zaun

0r the one I've named before: Dylana Jansen-0rmandy

January 11, 2006 at 08:09 PM · Carlos! I forgot about Dylana. Her Sibelius is great! Thanks for reminding me....

January 12, 2006 at 05:31 PM · Yes, that version is really exceptional. What happen to her?. I don't know any other recordings

January 12, 2006 at 06:15 PM · http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?id=5399

This link should help.

January 12, 2006 at 09:06 PM · I have a copy of the Spivakovsky recording on CD(paired with the Tchaikovsky). It is a little on the eccentric side, but wonderful and very interesting performances. I actually heard him play the Sibelius live with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra in Chicago in around 1959, and I still remember chunks of it. It was a very "meaty" sound and a very compelling performance. Technically also it was excellent. As I recall, it was a somewhat richer tone than the CD, and it really projected very, very well.

January 12, 2006 at 09:47 PM · Change of subject...quiz time.

Name that Tune

January 13, 2006 at 02:46 AM · I know, I know!!!

It's that Esteban-Malaguena piece! lol

January 13, 2006 at 03:21 AM · hehe, sorry William but if it is, it's a rip-off!

January 13, 2006 at 02:09 PM · No one!? It's Sarasate's Airs Espagnols for violin and orchestra...this is what gave him the motivation for the Gypsy Airs :-) I have an old edition for violin/piano if anyone is interested, I'll post a link!

January 13, 2006 at 04:20 PM · Please do!

January 13, 2006 at 04:37 PM · Enjoy!

Sarasate op.18 Airs Espagnols

January 13, 2006 at 06:31 PM · Thank you my friend!

I believe that just about all of the melodies are quotes from popular tunes, but made with great finesse!

January 14, 2006 at 10:22 AM · Thanks for the Sarasate Jonathan!

I like pretty much all of my Sibelius recordings. It's one of my all time favourite concertos. Heck I even like the Zuckerman (and I usually don't go in for his playing of modern romantic pieces). Of course I could get real snooty and say Heifetz is just too fast, Mutter misses somes notes in the 3rd movement and has a strange ringing sound to her violin at the beginning of the first movement, Bell snorts too much, Repin isn't balanced with the London, Szeryng overpowers the London, the Chung and the Chang are, I don't know, too perfect??? I have a few others I can't remember right now...so that's not good...

I'm still undecided on the more recent and, aisi, different interpretations I'm hearing by those like Ilya Gringolts and Henning Kraggerud, though the playing I'm hearing is exemplary. I also must say that it's interesting the direction the interpretations seem to be going...much more individual.

It's interesting Jonathan because the Stern was my first favourite of the Sibelius...I still remember the album cover (haven't had it for about 30 years).

If I was forced to pick I'd probably pick Oistrakh, but maybe Kavakos...it would be real tough and my mind changes a lot on this one.

Oh... and did I mention the Kennedy???

January 17, 2006 at 05:40 AM · Jonathan Frohnen, Could not open your Sarasate Zip file. Any words of advice please? Regards - Cheng

July 23, 2007 at 12:43 AM · probably ferras. Heifetz's is bad as usual.

July 23, 2007 at 12:47 AM · Heifetz/Hendl is my undisputed #1. :)

July 23, 2007 at 12:51 AM · Mine was Midori... but then I heard Joshua Bell live recording on the radio the other day and it was amazing!!

July 23, 2007 at 05:25 AM · Heifetz.

July 23, 2007 at 06:12 AM · gil shaham's performance with the NYPO aired on PBS a couple years ago.

July 23, 2007 at 08:59 AM · Just bought Heifetz's CD Historical Recordings by Naxos, including the Sibelius. Looking forward to listening to it now.

July 23, 2007 at 01:48 PM · shaham and gitlis

i used to have a dvd of shaham playing it on tv but i sent it to someone to copy it and never got it back

July 23, 2007 at 01:49 PM · Mikhail Vainman (Weinman)

Dylana Jensen...in that order

July 23, 2007 at 08:47 PM · ONE best recording? A bit restrictive, but if I could only listen to (and recommend) one: Camilla Wicks. Her interpretation was admired by Sibelius and it's a legendary recording, but until last year was only available on very expensive LPs. Exceptional insight and feel for the atmosphere of the work, both rhapsodic and cohesive, eletrically intense and poetic, and the playing is fantastic. Though it is a studio recording, rather than the 100 % clinical accuracy of modern studio versions, it has the risk-taking raw thrill of a great live performance. Biddulph Recordings brought it out on CD a few months ago, though it hasn't been that well distributed. It comes with some fantastic shorter pieces, to showcase one of the greatest.

July 24, 2007 at 02:13 AM · Midori

July 24, 2007 at 04:20 AM · Francescatti Potter and Harry Ferras . . . oh oops, I mean Christian Granger and Zino Weasley . . . Sorry, guess I'm overdosing on Rowling at the moment. I'd like to hear the opening of that concerto played with a dementor breathing down the performer's neck . . .

Jonathan--Cool that you're Joseph Gold's friend. My sister (a pianist) lives in San Francisco and went to see Joseph Gold play the Saint Seans violin concerto with the SF Symphony--I think it was last October or so. Right? She raved about his performance. He knocked her socks off.

July 24, 2007 at 05:22 AM · dong suk kang

July 24, 2007 at 04:22 PM · There was a great very old recording by Menuhin and Fistoulari that is from the early 50's. SLightly off topic--isn't it interesting how many of us are naming recordings that are almost old enough for antiques roadshow.

July 25, 2007 at 02:52 AM · Oh, I dunno, Sarah Chang keeps cropping up and there's a Midori and Dong Suk Kang in there. I think someone also mentioned Bell. I have great respect for the violinists of our own generation. Still, I just can't seem to get over the old guys . . . I wonder if that's a common sentiment around here?

July 26, 2007 at 04:38 PM · Camilla Wicks without a doubt.

July 26, 2007 at 07:33 PM · I absolutely LOVE Maxim Vengerov's performance of Sibelius with Barenboim conducting.

July 26, 2007 at 07:55 PM · For the Sibelius:

Oistrakh: very nice, but a little slow for my taste

Shaham: Similar comments to those about Oistrakh.

Heifetz: Superb playing (technically above all others), though I wish he were closer to the Mike

Wicks: For me, a little impulsive all the way through

Julian Sitkovetsky: A truly moving recording. My favourite, even above Heifetz' accurate and dynamic playing. Sitkovetsky was a wonderful player and his early death was a real tragedy.

David Lillis

July 27, 2007 at 09:19 PM ·

July 28, 2007 at 05:03 AM · Myriam Fried / Okko Kamu / Helsinki SO is my "rational" favorite... Heifetz (the old one w/ Beecham, IIRC) and Ferras (the video w/ Mehta, the studio recording w/ Karajan I don't like so much) play on the more "hot" or "Finnish-tropical" side, but who likes this style should listen to Gitlis NY debut with the NYPh. under George Szell.

August 2, 2007 at 01:49 AM · Kremer is very good

August 2, 2007 at 04:00 AM · Since we're limited to one, OISTRAKH.

The Ginette Neveu recording is lovely but at least my version is somewhat unclear (I believe the original recording was done on wax...maybe by now it has been digitally remastered).

Dylana Jenson's recording with Ormandy (and yes, it is/was available on CD, RCA, for someone who asked in a previous thread) is also lovely.

August 2, 2007 at 04:41 AM · I wish I could hear all the great Sibelius recordings because it is such an awesome piece...but unfortunately, I haven't heard too many. A few years ago, I wanted a recording of it so I picked out Cho Liang Lin, not even knowing who he was at the time. Has anyone mentioned his name yet? His recording is soooo great! Lots of style and good musical instincts. He is technically perfect and makes it sound so flashy and interesting. Definitely worth listening to.

August 2, 2007 at 07:37 AM · My list would be

1. Heifetz, for sheer excitement,

2. Miriam Fried, because I got hooked on the Sibelius by listening to her Brussels award recording,

3. Camilla Wicks, for vividness, elegance, cleanliness.

That's two women and a half-god. Where are the gentlemen in my list?!

There are so many recordings, however, that I can't know them all. I would be very curious to listen to Gitlis, though. He has that anarchic ardour that burns the loudspeakers.



August 2, 2007 at 11:18 AM · About historical recordings from Sibelius Concerto, I recommend:

-Isaac Stern / Philadelphia Orchesta / Ormandy: Sensational. The 3rd movement is a lesson for all violinist looking for a reference.

-Heifetz / CSO/ Hendl: Perhaps a little impulsive for my taste, but undoubtelly it´s one of the best recordings.

-Neveu / Philharmonia Orchestra / Süsskind: It´s the opposite concept if you compare with Heifetz´s recording. Neveu´s performance is introspective and reflexive, so she choose a slower tempi. In any case, a sensational registrement, with a wonderful soloist in plenty of faculties, commanding a great sound. Very good orchestral accompaniment. Only one objection: the sound quality of the recording is not at the same level.

-Ferras / Berlin Philharmonic / Karajan: One of the most legendary performances. Ferras is fabulous at the first movement. Sometimes he plays it like a opera recitative, it´s my opinion.

-Francescatti, New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein: Some years ago, I thought about Sibelius Concerto like a drama. If you compare emotionally with other romantic concertos, it sounds a little sad. Francescatti´s sound is perfectly suitable for this emotion, specially in the second movement. One of my favourite recordings.

-Perlman / BSO / Leinsdorf: An example of the musical maturity from this soloist (Perlman was 21 when he recorded it). Another drama, too.

I would like to hear Spivakovsky´s and Yulian Sitkovetsky´s recordings. I suppose they are wonderful, too. And I forgot to mention Gitlis´ recording. Awesome.

About modern recordings, favourite performers for me include Mintz, Liang-Lin, Kremer and Repin.

August 2, 2007 at 01:19 PM · Barbara S, which oistrakh recording do you recommend?

August 2, 2007 at 09:58 PM · Chris, I think the best Oistrakh is the one with Rozhdestvesky although the one with Ormandy runs it very close. Cheers - Cheng

September 22, 2011 at 09:08 PM ·

 Sorry, Terez - I'm not recording this in the near future!  

Anne-Sophie Mutter's live recording is exciting, and Julia Fischer (only on youtube) really nails it.

September 22, 2011 at 11:00 PM ·

I have some Favorites between them I cannot decide wich is my favorite of them because it depends on what I want to hear...

I am more liking live recordings of this concerto because they are just more stringend.. or how to say.. "with a red line" and of course they are raw as the concerto itself, nothing is hidden.

So I break the rules of this thread, but I want to take part since the sibelius is my favorite violin concerto because I am half finish and I really feel the same blues as it has sometimes.

Speaking about blues: Christian Ferras' live recording.

Leonidas Kavakos' Sibelius I like because of his shining tone and his sensibility and ability to use rarely vibrato in the beginning.

I once heard an Recording by Ida Haendel it was amazing (what a empty word, sorry)

I just lately came across Julia Fischers Recording and I was totally hammered by her clarity while playing with full emotional... hope to hear her once live, good girl!


Thats it so far. but I must say that from the Old ones I am really sad that Nathan Milstein didn't record this piece, because i want to hear his shiny glorious tone in the beginning and his devilish technique in the first and third movement, I am really sad about that!

At least we have a video of Oistrakh wich is of course great!


So, I beg for forgiveness breaking the rules, but if I would have mentioned one, the other would have gotten less respect as they deserve in my opinion.

p.s: Hilary Hahn does a great job in this concerto too... ok I' out of here ;)

September 23, 2011 at 12:28 PM ·

Wow, it's hard to choose just one recording but I'd have to say my sentimental favorite would be Zino Francescatti.


September 23, 2011 at 02:03 PM ·

I know it was controversial recording when it came out, and I don't think anyone else mentioned it, but my choice is Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg's recording with the LSO and Tilson Thomas. Her mood swings work well with the Sibelius.

September 23, 2011 at 03:34 PM ·

No-one mentioned Lisa Batiashvili. Her recording is my present favorite.

September 26, 2011 at 04:17 PM ·

Good Lord!!! This discussion as been around for a long, long time. I contributed to it a few years ago. But at this point, it's hard for me to find a performance of this magnificent concerto that I don't like. I've been changing my mind about a favorite performance for decades, but currently there are two that I can't seem to get enough of - Ruggiero Ricci and Yulian Sitkovetsky.
Check that - I've just listened to the two great Heifetz recordings (with Beecham and Hendl). Heifetz keeps returning as being in a class by himself. But then there's Ricci, and then there's Sitkovetsky, and then there's Oistrakh, and then there's Kovakos, and then there's Francescatti, and then......

September 28, 2011 at 03:00 AM ·

September 28, 2011 at 03:17 AM ·

To me, Michael Ferras. He plays the piece as if it belonged to him.

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