How would you rank these recordings of Brahms VC?

April 21, 2022, 12:31 PM · Anne Sophie-Mutter and Karajan, Heifetz and Chicago Symphony, Julia Fischer and Netherlands Phil., Oistrakh and French National Radio Orchestra. How would you rank these in descending order from most preferred, and why you like\dislike certain things about them? I know how I would rank them, but I like to hear other people's opinions because it gives you a new perspective on the music sometimes. I also chose 2 newer performances to contrast with 2 old school performances.

Replies (17)

Edited: April 21, 2022, 1:17 PM · Heifetz's performance was the first I ever heard in about 1966. I loved it then and was equally impressed when I heard the recording again recently. Oistrakh was my idol at the time and I heard him play the Brahms concerto live in 1969. From the middle of Row C (me, not him) he almost overpowered the student orchestra. His recording with Klemperer and the FNRO, however, never really swept me away to the same extent. I don't know the other two but Karajan's earlier recording with Christian Ferras (that way round) was my prize record for years.
April 21, 2022, 12:57 PM · Oistrakh.... and he was a violist too!!!
April 21, 2022, 5:38 PM · I actually prefer Mutter's performance with Karajan the most. I haven't found a recording yet that feels as fiery as hers.
April 22, 2022, 1:24 AM · Not bad for an eighteen-year-old! I'm listening to it right now on YT and agree entirely.
Edited: April 22, 2022, 3:48 AM · Julia Fischer's is beautifully played but doesn't have the same excitement. That at least gives me a chance to tell my crappy anecdote of having to climb over her legs, Strad and entourage at the end of a concert in London's Royal Festival Hall (she'd played Chausson and Respighi in the first half and bravely stayed to hear Eine Herbstsinfonie by Joseph Marx in the second). Missed my train by a whisker.
April 22, 2022, 3:41 AM · Heifetz can play a really Allegro con fuoco and allegro clear and singing(maybe last movement a little mechanic).also Julia Fisher play right tempos but I don t ear a big "cavata"(I heard last year an audio live of this concert and now she has a bigger sound).. Oistrach is as always very clear and strong in the tone but not very warm as He is in Tchiaikowsky. Mutter- Karajan play as a Poema Sinfonico with solo violin , Mutter have a beatiful sound but not big sound(I heard her live last year and now the sound is bigger than when she was young).. maybe I prefer Heifetz-Reiner and Mutter -Karajan
April 22, 2022, 8:39 AM · I haven't heard Fischer, and if I have heard Mutter/Karajan, it's been a very long time. Other than that, Heifetz and Oistrakh are benchmarks that I'd hate to have to leave behind. Two (or three) others that are even a bit better-- Heifetz' official recording with Koussevitzky and the BSO, and an off-air recording with Toscanini and the NYPO, both from the late 30s.

Another that will annoy many of the fans of the above would be Hubermann with the NYPO under Rodzinski, from the 40s. Hubermann had had to re-learn the violin after a severe accident, and had in any case been more or less self-taught back in the 1890s. His playing was definitely of a pre-Heifetz aesthetic, combined with a somewhat craggy personality. That said, he had once performed the piece for Brahms, who was delighted by what he heard.

April 23, 2022, 5:53 AM · Greetings,
I also think Huberman’s recordings have a great deal to offer. Another great Brahms is Ginette Neveu.
April 23, 2022, 11:24 AM · Oh yes, I love Ginette Neveu! She's so underrated. I don't think I would have ever come across her recordings if someone hadn't mentioned her a long time ago on here.
April 23, 2022, 11:48 AM · Neveu is great- her Brahms concerto was re-reieased on Dutton, and they cleaned up recording very nicely.

My fav Brahms recording is Szeryng, playing with Concertgebouw under Haitnick.

April 23, 2022, 1:20 PM · Mutter and Masur in NY, taken from a weekend of live performances. It is white hot and (in my mind) definitive.
April 23, 2022, 3:14 PM · Great discussion, with lots to explore.

However, I find it somewhat difficult to rank order great artists, and there are so many (from various eras) mentioned above.

But I would like to add one more - Zino Francescatti, whose recordings I not only love but am privileged to say who I heard once in person - in Chicago, playing the Mendelssohn Concerto in a great performance. On record, his Beethoven and Tchaikovsky are favorites of mine, but I also love his performances of the Brahms, the Prokofiev 2nd, and many others.

April 30, 2022, 9:38 PM · I think those are all very good recordings. It's hard for me to rank them as there are at least two comparisons to be made: the solo and orchestra performances. This concerto, like the Schumann concerto, had orchestral ambitions and I wouldn't be surprised if Brahms incorporated some thematic material in this concerto that he was planning to use for another symphonic work.

My introduction to this piece was the 1983 video that recorded Menuhin's live performance with the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra. The orchestra's performance is very good in my opinion; the introduction is excellent, which sets the mood for Menuhin's solo entrance. I've love watching Menuhin play because his frame is so perfect - with no extraneous movement - the violin resting naturally on the collar bone.

April 30, 2022, 11:24 PM · Neveu is awesome! But I rather like Milstein's Brahms recorded with Pittsburgh/Steinberg.
Edited: May 1, 2022, 3:34 PM · I like Tom Holzman's comment, but I'm not sure which one to vote for. But, yes, that 1980's video of Menuhin playing the Brahms is - maybe not perfection - but certainly magnificent.
Edited: May 1, 2022, 9:17 AM · Whoops. Accidentally deleted all four versions of my post while trying to clear away three. Anyhow, all I was saying was that we have at least one vote for all the major soloists. So, I think the best course is to enjoy all of them and appreciate the insight and beauty they bring to the piece.
May 1, 2022, 8:36 AM · OK, I'll vote for that.

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