Elgar Violin Concerto
Is there a definitive recording of this piece? What recordings do you suggest?
Most people cite Yehudi Menhuin's with Elgar conducting as definitive
Certainly, Elgar’s influence on the preternaturally gifted 16 year old Menuhin is a blockbuster combination...
I love the Heifetz recording. The Menuhin recording with the composer conducting is also a powerful rendition.
Is there a "definitive" recording of any great concerto? I hope not, or others wouldn't bother trying to compete. The early recording by Albert Sammons with Henry Wood conducting is one of my favourites. Nigel Kennedy's first recording with Vernon Handley is also very fine; better, I think, than his remake with Simon Rattle.
Apparently, Heifetz admired the Sammons recording very much.
I enjoy Hahn and the Tasmin little on YouTube but I completely dislike the menuhin
Anytime the composer is directly involved in a recording project, the recording becomes "definitive." (Definitive by definition?) I am of the opinion that the tempos and other myriad choices that the composer may have made are not necessarily the best choices for a given soloist, ensemble, venue, occasion, etc.
Kyung Wha Chung with Solti.
It has been argued that Elgar's tendency towards fast tempi, particularly in his recordings of the symphonies, was partly due to the time constraints imposed by 78rpm discs. And of course Menuhin's technique wasn't the equal of a lot of today's players. Raymond, do you really want "definitive" or "most satisfying"?
The Elgar Cto is unusually long for a concerto (though a couple concertos from this era were like this, think also of the Reger concertos), and one of the challenges of a recording is making the listener listen to the entire piece, rather than reach for the remote after twenty minutes.
There is a severely anti-Elgar website that claims Kreisler (for whom it was written) tried to have cuts put in. And that was the reason they went for Menuhin in the 1930s recording. Standard excuses were Kreisler's fees and his age, but the other isn't out of the question.
Hugh Bean did a very good recording with the R.L.P.O. under Charles Groves.
I agree with Malcolm Turner about the recording by Hugh Bean. Another very fine one is that by Alfredo Campoli and the London Philharmonic under Sir Adrian Boult.
Stephen - I know the site you mention. The man is totally deranged and I don't think we should repeat his poison here.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I listened to the Nigel Kennedy recording (borrowed the CD from the library). But I found I needed to turn the volume up considerably, especially during the third movement. The recording was made digitally in 1984, when I suppose digital recording was still in its infancy.
There is a more recent recording by Aruzhan Zhylanbayev (with the Almaty Oblast Philharmonic) but it was done by a smaller label in her native Kazakhstan so you might not have heard it. And yes, she's the daughter of the famous marathon runner from Ekibastuz.
I think you mean Kazakhstan (I looked it up on Wikipedia:). It happens to be the largest landlocked country in the world(I had thought Mongolia held that distinction). Good Jeopardy question!
Raymond, that isn't correct. Heifetz played the Elgar concerto in New York in 1922...and Benno Rabinof in 1927. Additionally, Fritz Kreisler played the concerto in the 1920's with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Thanks Andrew for that correction. I had used only one source.
Didn't Thibaud ever record it?
I’m glad Malcolm brought up Hugh Bean. He was a fabulous violinist and concertmaster with the Philharmonia under Klemperer. I haven’t heard his recording of the concerto yet unfortunately. He made a fabulous recording of the Elgar Sonata. Everything I’ve listened to of his is top notch.
Nate and Ron,
Unfortunately, Hugh Bean's recording of the Elgar is no longer available. However, the excellent recording of Campoli and Boult has been reissued by Decca and is currently available on CD.
James Ehnes, with Hugh Bean getting and honorable mention.
Hilary Hahn's recording is worth hearing (her Lark Ascending on the same CD is fantastic). I heard her play the Elgar live in Santa Rosa many years ago, and it was spectacular. She could take six bows for a note, with the bow changes completely inaudible, and get a massive sound as a result.
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