Beethoven’s violin concerto was an instant flop, sometimes still is

Beethoven’s violin concerto was an instant flop, sometimes still is

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norman lebrecht

February 02, 2020

Welcome to the 28th work in the Slipped Disc/Idagio Beethoven Edition

Violin concerto, opus 61 (part 3)

Musical masterpieces do not leap fully formed off the page. At its first performance in Vienna on December 23, 1806, Beethoven’s violin concerto was so poorly received that it may never have been heard again in his lifetime. The review in the Weiner Zeitung read:

With regard to Beethofen’s [sic] concerto, the opinion of all connoisseurs is the same: while they acknowledge that it contains some fine things, they agree that the continuity often seems to be completely disrupted, and that the endless repetitions of a few commonplace passages could easily lead to weariness. It is being said that Beethofen ought to make better use of his admittedly great talents…

It is reported that Beethoven was late in delivering the score to the soloist, leaving Franz Clement to sightread some pages, but the real reason for its failure was that the work as a whole went above the heads of its audience, who were used to the polite conventions of Haydn and Mozart and could not adjust to the open combat between soloist and conductor which make this concerto a milestone in the evolution of western music.

Beethoven was so disappointed by its rejection that he made a tame transcription for piano and orchestra. It was May 1844 before the violin concerto was taken up in earnest after the 12 year-old Joseph Joachim played it with his own cadenzas at the Philharmonic Society in London, with Felix Mendelssohn conducting. The concerto was ahead of its time, both musically and in its suggestion that soloist and conductor must square up to each other if the work is to succeed. Gidon Kremer, in the essay I quoted a couple of days ago, complains that too many conductors fail to earn their fee by simply following the violinist in everything.

Be that as it may, we are approaching a point where you have the right to expect firm recommendations from the recorded archives. In addition to the early birds listed yesterday, I should draw your attention to the 1959 performance by Isaac Stern with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, an interpretation highly praised in its time but irritating on repeated hearing for slow tempi and exaggerated pauses, especially in the middle movement. Stern’s 1975 New York recording with Daniel Barenboim conducting is lighter, brisker and considerably less affected. Barenboim returned to the concerto time and again with his Israeli pals Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman, the former more slack than slick with the Chicago Symphony, and the latter flawless with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1989. The best of Perlman, however, is heard in his 1981 recording  with Carlo-Maria Giulini and the Philharmonia, a performance that ushered the concerto into a digital era which, by exposing the slightest flaws of intonation, prompted soloists to cut back on risk. This is, nonetheless, a memorable, celestial reading by a formidable artist at the summit of his powers.

There are two more landmark recordings in the 20th century. In September 1979, the authoritarian Herbert von Karajan presented a 16 year-old girl as soloist in the Beethoven concerto in the Berlin Philharmonie. Anne-Sophie Mutter had been his protégée for three years. In the Beethoven concerto she achieved artistic maturity, albeit under the tight control of the old conductor, who set slow tempi and brooked no contradiction. Mutter’s playing is breath-taking in places, daring in its quietude and forcing the orchestra to play at her volume. The DG release was an overnight best-seller. Some commentators identified Mutter as the first German talent to emerge on the violin since 1933. She recorded the Beethoven twice more, with Karajan and Kurt Masur, but never with the same élan.

The other landmark could hardly be more different. I happened to be present in June 1992 when the bad boy of British music Nigel Kennedy recorded the Beethoven concerto in a north German radio studio with the most unmaestro-like of great conductors, Klaus Tennstedt. Kennedy was at his most awkward with the recording crew and Tennstedt was at his most impassive. It did not augur well. But the spark between them was unmistakeable and the performance, very slow as it was, caught fire. Kennedy’s playing in the cadenza of the finale is the best I ever heard from him. The recording, if I remember rightly, sold 100,000 copies in a week. It remains a cracking performance. The only living violinist to match the sales of Mutter and Kennedy is the German-American David Garrett, in a 2011 performance of self-indulgent exaggeration. The last sales figure I heard was close to half a million. There is no accounting for bad taste.

Although the concerto is a virtuosic showpiece, a number of excellent concertmasters have stepped up to show that they are as good as any soloist. Two recorded the concerto with Bernard Haitink – Toronto’s Steven Staryk and, more reticent, the Concertgebouw leader Hermann Krebbers whose playing is dignified by moderation and unassuming mastery.

In the 21st century I am drawn to Nikolaj Znaider’s marvellously assured and musically refined 2005 recording with the somewhat less impressive Israel Phil and to Janine Jansen, crisp and commanding in Bremen in 2009. Among the period instrument takes, Thomas Zehetmair’s 1997 collaboration with Frans Brüggen challenges the ear constantly with surprising speeds and phrasing. There is also a heartstring-tugging Patricia Kopatchinskaja recording dated 2009 (not on Idagio) with the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées and Philippe Herreweghe, a favourite with many professionals. Nicola Benedetti and Viktoria Mullova aslo have their fans.

All of which brings me inexorably back to Gidon Kremer. The Latvian violinist recorded the concerto twice – in a closly argued 1995  dialogue with his favourite conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt and, a dozen years earlier, in a shortlived recording with Neville Marriner. The unique facet of this release was the cadenza. It’s by the late-Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke and it is made up of snatches of every major violin concerto from J S Bach to Alban Berg. It’s a phenomenal composition, unbelievably tough to play, and it gives everything one knows about the Beethoven concerto a thorough window-cleaning. Best of all, it throws one of those rare bridges across the whole of music history for listeners to contemplate at leisure,

Audiences, needless to say, hated it. The record label deleted it and I have never heard it since in a concert hall (although I gather Lisa Batiashvili has given some recent performances). Happily, it’s here on Idagio…. and I’m still transfixed by it.

So, final choices:

Kreisler 1926

Wolfsthal 1929

Menuhin 1947

Neveu 1949

Milstein 1972

Mutter 1979

Perlman 1981

Kremer 1982

Jansen 2009

Comments

  • fflambeau says:

    I would never buy anything that has Nigel Kennedy in it. About 25 years ago, I went to a concert in Honolulu. He was the featured solist and performed in the first half of the concert; he played well. The orchestra played a piece without a solist in the 2nd half.

    I had excellent seats and noted the seats ahead of me were empty in the first half of the concert and occupied by a very noisy couple in the 2nd half. They were not just whispering but arguing out loud. It went on and on. I coughed first to give them a warning, and then tapped the man on the shoulder and told him to shut up because he was disturbing everyone. He turned around: it was Nigel Kennedy. I must say that he reacted appropriately and he and his female companion just left the auditorium.

    If a performer doesn’t pay attention to the group he just performed with, what does this say about him?

    As for the Beethoven, I would choose G. Kramer first and then David Oistrakh for an older performance.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    That 1982 recording by Gidon Kremer is totally unacceptable because of that inappropriate cadenza. It totally disrupts the piece. Otherwise it was a decent performance.

  • CRMH says:

    You mentioned Schneiderhan but have not included either of his two marvellous recordings in your survey. Surely he deserves a place in a shortlist of 10.

  • V.Lind says:

    Although he did not make your final list, I was pleased to see you praise Znaimer. He gave the best Mendelssohn Violin Concerto I have ever heard.

  • jay says:

    The Schnittke cadenza is ridiculous in the context of the work.
    A cadenza is based on the work at hand and is not a
    history lesson of violin concertos.It comments on what was just played and should not stray afield of the technical capabilities of the players of the day to be true to the original.

  • MacroV says:

    I liked Stern’s 1959 recording though I understand it involved an absurd number of splices. Much better than his later version with Barenboim, which struck me as rather stilted.

    Two recordings you don’t mention that I love are Arthur Grumiaux with Colin Davis and Christian Tetzlaff with David Zinman and the Zurich Tonhalle.

    I’d be interested to hear Steven Staryk; he was an extraordinary violinist.

    • V.Lind says:

      Second time on this page I am delighted to hear mention of someone I have admired. First violin concerto I ever went to was Steven Staryk at Massie Hall in Toronto. I’m pretty sure that was the Beethoven, too.

      • Jay says:

        Toronto had superior violin artists than Staryk He did have a formidable technique.The Tchaikovsky it seems was his calling card.

    • Derek says:

      I have always enjoyed the Arthur Grumiaux and Colin Davis version, so much that I have the LP and the CD.

    • MacroV says:

      Correction: I think it was Grumiaux with Galliera, not Davis.

      I also remember hearing a wonderful rendition on the radio a few years ago – the old blind listen when you join in part-way: it sparkled and danced and I thought “This is really good!” Turned out to be Mutter with Masur and NY Phil. Who would have imagined?

  • Elvira says:

    Josef Suk performance is to me the ultimate!

    You listen and think”How come I missed this section, or that passage all this years”

    Sublime!!!!!!

  • Pierre says:

    Just recently played this (two nights ago) with Lorenzo Gatto – a phenomenal Belgian violonist. It was a goosebump inducing performance, truly captivating throughout the whole work. Splendid cadenza, beautiful choice of textures and impeccable rubato. A treat!

    I highly recommend his recent CDs – he’s been recording the complete Beethoven sonatas on Alpha Records (a part of Outhere Music) – I think he’s also recorded the Concerto recently.

    Truly a *great* soloist, albeit not necessarily well known internationally.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Going back to Gidon Kremer’s Schnittke cadenza, which I first heard in 1980’s & hated it, now hearing it again sounds much more acceptable. Perhaps much has changed from that time, what sounded radical then sounds mild now.

  • Robert Roy says:

    I’m sure Anne-Sophie Mutter said in an interview in ?Gramophone that her tempi in the Karajan conducted recording were hers and had not been imposed on her by the maestro.

    • Bruce says:

      I was going to say: his tempo in the introduction of the first movement is “normal,” then she slows him down when she starts to play. It’s pretty clear who is driving the bus.

      • Robert Roy says:

        I heard her play it with Masur and the LPO a number of years ago and EXACTLY the same thing happened! A friend told me it lasted over 50 minutes although it’s a tribute to her playing that she sustained the concentration incredibly well.

    • M McAlpine says:

      Correct.

  • Andrew Condon says:

    In addition to the Krebbers/Haitink recording already mentioned there are several others by renowned concertmasters/soloists which I have always enjoyed: Erich Gruenberg with the Philharmonia and Jascha Horenstein (1967), Iona Brown with the ASMF and Sir Neville Marriner (1980), and more recently a 1994 recording by Rainer Kuchl with the LPO and Pinchas Steinberg (issued on a quite hard to find Japanese label). The Gruenberg performance is available on CD but I’m not sure the Brown/ASMF Decca/Argo recording has yet made it onto CD – a shame, as its a wonderful performance, and a lasting tribute to a fine British artist who died far too young.

    • Bruce says:

      She was wonderful. I had her beautiful recordings of the Mozart concerti (playing & conducting, with Josef Suk -!- on the viola for the Sinfonia Concertante)… on cassette, sadly now disintegrated. Also a very fine Bartok #2 with Rattle and the CBSO (he must have been about 17 then).

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    There is no perfect performance, only personal choices.

    Would I have only one, this is the recording: Wolfgang Schneiderhan/Berliner Phil./Eugen Jochum (Deutsche Grammophon; great remastering in ‘The Originals’ series) is very special, a ‘dream team’ for the time (rec. 1962). Beethoven’s cadenzas for the piano version of the concerto were edited by Schneiderhan for the violin and here recorded for the first time.

    A very special recording: The last recording by Ruggiero Ricci, done in 1995 with the ‘Orchestra del Chianti’ (a hand-picked orquestra? – it sounded geat!) conducted by Piero Bellugi, includes 14 different versions of the first movement’s cadenza that the listener can chose. This rarity of the Biddulph Recordings label is by now a collector’s item.

    I also want to mention the latest commercial recording by Salvatore Accardo, with the ‘Orchestra da Camera Italiana’ conducted by the soloist (1995). Mr. Accardo’s frisky interpretation with those young players was a very aggregable surprise. This is a ‘natural sound recording’, Super Audio CD hybrid disc.

  • Sixtus says:

    Should you truly want to subject yourself to the Schnittke cadenza, the Kremer-Marriner recoding is also available for streaming or download through Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music, the latter offering full lossless CD quality with an HD subscription.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Another vote for Jansen/Masuf among modern versions.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The difficulty with this concerto is that it is often played too slowly, with an awstruck reverence, burdened by some 200 years of ‘marketing of the Sublime’. It is difficult to approach the music as if fresh. I find one of the best performances the one with Mullova and Gardener, who play it as if they had discovered the music yesterday, and with all the sublimity the piece requires, but also with the necessary spontaneous flow and pluck, and on period instruments which give the right balance and clarity in the orchestra:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2H8d17FSyk

  • Bruce says:

    I have to nominate Grumiaux with Alceo Galliera and the New Philharmonia, from the 1960s. A sublime performance, very much in the “late Mozart rather than early Brahms” mode. Years ago, unable to find this recording on CD, I bought his more famous version with Colin Davis/ Concertgebouw and was a little disappointed with the less-refined phrasing and occasional slips of intonation, which I was not used to hearing from Grumiaux*. He and Davis were terrific partners musically (e.g. their landmark Mozart concerto cycle), but for this recording it sounded like he hadn’t been practicing lately.

    I’m listening to it again because of this post, and it’s still as good as I remembered. There are many wonderful recordings out there, but none [IMNVHO] better.

    https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Concerto-Grumiaux-Galliera-Philips/dp/B008FES9HY

    *(A comment on Grumiaux’s technique: his recording was the one where I first heard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole. I had no idea it was supposed to be a difficult piece until I heard other violinists try to play it.)

    • Dan oren says:

      First time I heard the concerto in a concert hall was with Grumiaux, Galliera conducting the Strasbourg Phil.(he was music director there for several years). That was another Beethoven anniversary, 1970!

    • Derek says:

      Thanks for the info.

      I believe the version with Gallieri is only on vinyl.

      I liked Grumiaux (you mention his Mozart etc.) and am probably biased, so I took his interpretation as intuitive, phrasing and all. What do I know!

  • Gerald Elias says:

    Has anyone ever heard of a violinist named Jascha Heifetz?

  • Rolf Schulte says:

    I cannot believe you’re making a case for the Schnittke Cadenza : it is a bunch of mangled excerpts from the kitchen sink, and does not belong in this treasured, still the most sublime of all Violin Concertos ! Kreisler’s is the best, and, as played by Henryk Szeryng masterfully, the Joachim !
    Also, in the list of recordings, why is there no mention of Zino Francescatti’s fine version with Bruno Walter, my personal favorite…? Kreisler, beautiful – again, why no mention of theHeifetz/Toscanini reading, impressively in 4/4 with almost no tempo inflections – one (convincing) way of doing it ?! Bronislav Hubermann also has a marvelous recording…

    • Guersoni says:

      Francescatti actually recorded many versions of the cadenza, I’m not sure how many. There was the LP with the whole concert and plus different cadenzas. I’ve never ever seen it again on CD on in the clouds, unfortunately.

  • hilary says:

    Mutter and the EYO in rehearsal. A fascinating document (youtube at its best), and rare footage of Karajan wearing jeans. Inspirational way of coaxing great results from all concerned.
    UK concertgoers will delight in recognising leading orchestral players (eg. clarinettist Mark van de Wiel) in their teenage years : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4t0Tr-0MqY

  • Wimsey says:

    The concerto should not be played too slowly because, let’s be honest, the first movement is too long.

    • Bruce says:

      I disagree; but it certainly can seem too long if the performers can’t keep things interesting.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Performers are often highlighting the introvert, radiant ecstasy, and forget that the music must also flow naturally. The result is that everything sounds too downbeat and it becomes static and vertical, and then, it may feel ‘too long’. It’s obviously not an easy piece, in spite of the extremely clear musical language.

  • Barry says:

    The first classical concert I attended, in the mid 80s, included a performance of the Beethoven VC with Kremer as soloist with Muti and Philadelphia. I am pretty sure he played a more traditional cadenza, although it’s unlikely I’d remember if he didn’t.

  • M McAlpine says:

    This is one of the greatest works of all time. Among recordings I have I would recommend:
    Heifetz / Toscanini although the recording is poor
    Heifetz / Munch
    Menuhin / Furtwangler for a different approach
    Faust / Abaddo
    Zehetmair / Bruggen
    I’d recommend Kremer / Harnoncourt if it wasn’t for that lousy cadenza. Hopeless!

    • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

      I second the Faust Abbado performance not least because it is paired with favorite rendition of the Berg

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I have enjoyed this “deeper dive” into the Beethoven Concerto, the articles and the comments. The work is a worthy recipient of so much attention.

    By way of a mopping up operation. Yes, N.L., the Concerto was played again during Beethoven’s lifetime. Luigi Tomasini in 1812 in Berlin, and Baillot’s 1820s performances may have been before the composer’s death. Source: Andrew Clements’ chapter in Dominic Gill’s The Book of the Violin.

    Recordings by concertmasters. Steven Staryk and the Centaur label have tried hard to get the best-sounding version of his concert performance with a young Bernard Haitink before the public. Centaur has issued a large number of Staryk discs. One couples that exciting Beethoven with an astounding Paganini Concerto No. 1; I can’t say whether it has the final attempt at sonic improvement. Joseph Silverstein wrote his own excellent cadenzas (I believe they’ve been published); he plays and conducts the Utah Symphony on a Pro Arte CD. One of the greatest and most experienced concertmasters of our time, Karl Suske, recorded the Beethoven with Kurt Masur and the Gewandhausorchester for edel’s Berlin Classics label. Best of all it includes both Romances and Beethoven’s abandoned fragment of a violin concerto first movement that really shows the Viotti influence. The fragment has been “completed” by various musicians but it just abruptly runs out in Suske’s version, which I assume is urtext.

    Another famous (in his time) concertmaster, and a pupil of Carl Flesch, Peter Rybar recorded the Beethoven in 1951 for the Musical Masterpiece Society – they of LP surfaces that sounded like they were pressed from used vinyl flooring. The Doron CD reissue sounds amazingly improved. Rybar was a strong player.

    An excellent concertmaster and very inventive artist but known mostly in New York perhaps, Mela Tenenbaum recorded it with Richard Kapp and the Czech Philharmonic, one of her many recordings for the ESS.A.Y. label. Her cadenzas are modernistic and take getting used to (the liner notes suggest she has composed several sets of cadenzas for the Beethoven Concerto). Her coupling? The spurious but fun “Adelaide” Concerto “by” (ahem) W.A. Mozart (take a bow, Marius Casadesus).

    I want to mention two recordings that might not make anyone’s “A” or even “B” lists but should be heard and considered. Philippe Hirshhorn left an incomplete and somewhat frustrating recorded legacy (b. 1946; d. 1996). A “live” Beethoven Concerto from 1990 was released on the (not easy to find) Cypres label, coupled with a 1985 “live” Berg Concerto and the famous prize winning 1967 Queen Elisabeth Competition Paganini Concerto No. 1. As with most music it seems, Hirshhorn heard the Beethoven his own way. There is, I learned in my reviewing days, almost a cult for Hirshhorn among violin fans. I am not a card-carrying member, but I wouldn’t regard them as crazy, either.

    Not long before his death, Albert Spalding (1888-1953) came out of his (early) retirement to record some concertos and sonatas for the Remington label. He was an heir to the sporting goods company fortune so he didn’t need the money, but his recorded legacy had by then disappeared: his Edison recordings were long gone and Victor had of course adopted long play/high fidelity and Spalding’s 78s were not likely to be reissued (he was never first in line for major repertoire at Victor anyway). But he was an important violinist in his time, European trained, and his Beethoven captures the relaxed and vocalistic/songful style of an earlier era, although not in his prime. There is another reason to listen to it. Very early in his career, Spalding came to the attention of the elderly Camille Saint-Saëns and gave several concerts with him. Very early in HIS career as a pianist, Saint-Saëns had come to the attention of the elderly violinist George Bridgetower and gave several concerts with him. It was for Bridgetower of course that Beethoven wrote the (now known as) “Kreutzer” Sonata in 1803. Just two intertwined musical lives separate Spalding in 1952 from Beethoven.

  • Bruce says:

    Now that I’m done praising Grumiaux to the skies, a few comments on other recordings I’ve gotten to know:

    • I know Heifetz’s recording with Munch is considered a classic, but I find his interpretation alien to the spirit of the piece as I perceive it. (Possibly this is a result of having been “inoculated” by Grumiaux at an early age.) The fast tempo of the 1st movement is noticeable, but what’s more of a problem for me is that he seems to play it like it’s Wieniawski: the 16th-note passages are all tossed off like it’s some virtuoso showpiece, calling attention to the violinist’s technique (“look what I can do!”) rather than putting it at the service of the music. I don’t hear him approach the other two movements that way — the Rondo lends itself to some showing off in any case — but the first movement is half the piece.

    • Zukerman/ Barenboim/ Chicago: Norman finds it slack but I find it lyrical and contemplative. Zukerman tightens things up a bit in his later recording with Mehta and Los Angeles. I like both recordings for their differences.

    • Josef Suk/ Adrian Boult/ New Philharmonia. The word that comes to mind is “magisterial.” Suk was a grand master of the old school, who doesn’t get as much love today as he should. If you can find it, his recording of the two Martinu concerti is a treasure.

    • Uto Ughi/ Sawallisch/ London Symphony. Ughi is Mr. Heart-on-Sleeve, but Sawallisch never lets him get out of control. (There’s a beautifully hair-raising recording of the Mendelssohn, with Georges Pretre aiding and abetting, that makes most others seem timid.)

  • ALB says:

    Surprised not to see David Oistrakh listed in the top performances. I think he understood this piece, especially the middle movement, like very few other artists did.

  • Years ago American violinist Rachel Barton Pine approached me with the project to conduct for her an amazing combination: the Beethoven Violin Concerto and the Violin Concerto by Franz Clement, who commissioned the Beethoven and performed the failed premiere. Ours, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was the world premiere recording of the Clement Concerto. The CD is still available, on the Chicago-based label CEDILLE, owned by Jim Ginsburg, son of the Supreme Court Judge. Jim also
    co-produced the recording, which was a best-seller.
    There are some amazing anecdotes about the Beethoven premiere and about the incredible similarities between the Clement and the Beethoven concertos. More later.
    Jose Serebrier

    • Robert Roy says:

      And a very fine recording it is, Mr. Serebrier.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Here it is:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OypAJsR9Hd0

      A most interesting and beautifully-performed discovery. Chapeau!

      From the booklet (Prof. Clive Brown, Leeds University):

      “It shows a degree of imagination, seriousness of purpose, and flair that is worthy of many a better known composer; it teems with felicitous ideas that sustain the listener’s interest; the orchestration is exceptionally sensitive and colourful; and the assured handling of form and the subtle and varied harmonic style, rather more chromatic than Beethoven’s, reveal an individual and sensitive appreciation of the Classical style.”

      I think it is a good piece but it also shows where the difference with Beethoven lies. Clearly Clement was extraordinarily gifted, maybe – in terms of natural talent – as gifted as Beethoven, but his personality is so different. The music sets-up patterns, all in the general classical style, a bit à la Beethoven and Mozart (chromaticism), and then almost always kindly fulfills the created expectation. If Beethoven had written this music, it would have been a first version, after which he would work upon the narrative and the structure through either postponing or frustrating fulfilment, or changing the pattern halfway, or inserting an unexpected variation or a sudden contrast which breaks-up the flow. In the Clement there is not much under the well-crafted and sweetly-expressive surface, but the surface is beautiful in itself, with hints of early romanticism (slow mvt).

  • Robert Roy says:

    I was lucky enough to hear Vilde Frang play the Beethoven Concerto with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra last year. Very fine performance indeed although, iirc, she played a shortened version of the Kreisler cadenza.

    Hopefully, there will be a recording soon.

  • Amos says:

    Edith Peinemann with George Szell and the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne 1960’s.

  • Edgar Self says:

    thanks to David K. Nelson for his comments on Albert Spalding, whose recording of Mozart’s sinfonia concertante with William Primrose for RCA is a classic.

    Another notable violinist who recorded beethoven’s concerto in old age is Georges Enesco.

    • Amos says:

      Wasn’t Spalding the violinist who commissioned the Barber concerto and then claimed it was unplayable?

      • David K. Nelson says:

        No, Albert Spalding (who was himself a composer) stepped in and learned the concerto and gave the premiere with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra – to prove that it WAS playable. The story of the Barber Concerto is complex and disputed and as I understand it, not totally fair to the young virtuoso who supposedly claimed the last movement was unplayable. Perhaps some day Slipped Disc will take up that topic. This is not the place to go into detail.

  • Roland says:

    Gidon Kremer has recorded Beethoven’s Concerto at least three times, the first time in the 1970s for Melodiya with Waldemar Nelsson conducting.

  • Charles Timbrell says:

    Oistrakh 1, then Oistrakh 2, and finally Oistrakh 3!

  • Brian says:

    Frank-Peter Zimmermann is probably one of the best of our time but not even mentioned, just like Oistrakh. This selection does look unusual, to say the least. If you would like to have a look for yourself on search YT for SHFsqK41OvE

  • yuwc says:

    Can anyone reading this post recall if Georg Kulempkampff was reviewed in the list?

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