Please, no! Not Rachmaninov 2nd concerto on the violin …

Please, no! Not Rachmaninov 2nd concerto on the violin …


norman lebrecht

February 16, 2021

Nothing is beyond David Garrett.



  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    When Fritz Kreisler died, notes were found in his effects re: a kind a transcription of from his pal R’s concertos. Apparently not quite clear what he had in mind – but it would have doubtless been a tastefully done arrangement for violin.

    • Rogerio says:

      There would be many more Garretts if classical violin were not an art-form in a state of coma.

      Here is a nice poem for people who dislike mr. Garrett.

      I went to the Garden of Love,
      And saw what I never had seen:
      A Chapel was built in the midst,
      Where I used to play on the green.

      And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
      And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
      So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
      That so many sweet flowers bore.

      And I saw it was filled with graves,
      And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
      And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
      And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

      William Blake

    • microview says:

      good enough for gidon kremer:
      Rachmaninov: Preghiera (Arr. By Fritz Kreisler From Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18, 2nd Movement)
      Gidon Kremer (violin), Daniil Trifonov (piano)
      Recorded: 2015-05-03
      Recording Venue: Trifolion, Echternach

      • Edgar says:

        Agreed. But Gidon is in entirely other and vastly superior league than David, don’t you think?

        BTW: Echternach is a lovely place to visit.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Kreisler also arranged the 18th Variation from the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for violin and piano, and there are other portions of that work that I think could be made to work for violin, maybe even violin and orchestra, although not the entire piece. I have a feeling that a virtuoso violin concerto could, with much labor, and leaving perhaps far too many notes on the floor to be swept up later, be extracted from the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and maybe even from one or another of the Suites for two pianos (which themselves have both been arranged for piano and orchestra).

      There are after all transcriptions for violin and piano of a number of the solo piano works including some Preludes and some of the Études-tableaux. I know there is more than one version out there for violin of the cello sonata but that is almost too obvious a transcription; the same has been done with Borodin’s cello sonata. And various vocal works of Rachmaninov have been ripe for violin transcription as well.

      I have heard recordings/seen videos of David Garrett where he really plays quite well, so I’ll save my deepest sneering for others. The various physical trappings that he or his managers insist on seem so utterly gratuitous as to ring false, almost as false as Nigel Kennedy’s contrived efforts to pretend to be a football hooligan (I think he must hire some lackey to remind him to swear a lot so as to keep to the script), although thanks to Covid-19 restrictions on barbershop visits I am now almost able to flip my hair around like Garrett evidently feels a need to do (when a camera is nearby). My fingered octaves are just as labored after a hair flip as they are without, so I think I can testify it is entirely for show and serves no violinistic function.

      At some point he too will be a jowelly and paunchy upper-middle aged guy — the only comfort I can take in the situation. Good looking people are just annoying. And jealousy comes so naturally to me ….

  • Roman says:

    They should do a trio with Lang Lang and Lola Astanova one day, conducted by Andre Rieu. And perform Requiem. Success guaranteed.

    • BruceB says:

      Gotta put in a word of defense for André Rieu. Alone among that group, he seems to be a sincere musician. I know we like to sneer at the kind of music he does, and the kind of show he puts on — but, believe it or not, it is possible to be bad at that kind of music (and that kind of show). I’d be sad to see him working with that trio, even — especially — if it was just for the money.

      • violin accordion says:

        Rieu is a substantial violinist , was a concerto soloist , recitalist and conductor, and studied with Herman Krebbers, soloist and long term concertmaster of Concertgebouw.
        He is sincerity generosity and integrity epitomised .

      • Angus McMillan says:

        Agree about Rieu. I’ve never met him but a Dutch friend who knows him well says he’s never taken himself seriously and is surprised and amused by his own success. He’s appreciated by his players for keeping them in well-paid work, greatly enjoys the shows and sees no reason not to carry on.

      • Rosemarie Mann says:

        Dear Bruce B. Andre Rieu is a genuine musician, and his shows encourage interest in classical music, giving much joy to millions. He will never need to do anything just for money , as he is extremely rich now.

  • PaulD says:

    Maybe they can use that in a remake of Brief Encounter. No, don’t give them any ideas, Paul!

  • Morgan says:

    This is terrible and so unnecessary Oh my ears.

  • Rob says:

    A gorgeous, sweet tone.

    • Nick says:

      Actually, yes. He is a good violinist, no question. But the question still is: why? Why Rachmaninov, who did not write violin concertos? Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, etc. DID! Rachmaninov did not.

    • BruceB says:

      It does sound lovely, although it’s so electronically manipulated that it’s hard to tell what he would sound like in real life.

      The musicianship leaves a lot to be desired, though. It’s like someone who thinks they can imitate Kreisler by doing slide (which is like trying to imitate Horowitz by playing fast).

  • Nijinsky says:

    Maybe someone will hand him a violin he deserves, and he can smash it at then end of the concerto, introducing the G-sharp. Just like all the great ones with their guitars.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Sounds like a good arrangement for Andre Rieu!

  • Patricia says:

    Cut your hair. Wear regulation concert clothing. Grow up.

    • Enid Coleslaw says:

      Oh Patsy, Patsy, Patsy. What a pathetic, predictable and boring troll you’ve become; maybe you are Mr. Sue can grow older together wallowing in misery and bitterness.

    • Violin Accordion says:

      Patricia….. a stuffy name. Do you favour brassières and whalebone corsets. Bother yourself to search “David Garrett concertos” and tape your eyes shut to hear the reality

  • sabrinensis says:

    How does this earn money? Who is the audience for this?

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Don’t know anything about him and I’ve never heard of him but doesn’t he just love himself?

    • Violin Accordion says:

      If you look for his concerto recordings you’ll find out why.
      Shouldn’t everyone love themselves and others equally ? Something to do with a very old book…

  • Leo says:

    It makes me cringe so hard.

  • violin accordion says:

    Gorgeous, sensuous , fragile, unique. Who cares what he chooses to play on the violin. He always does it best .

  • debuschubertussy says:

    If it was the 1st or 3rd movement, I’d agree, but the 2nd movement actually sounds quite lovely on violin. Lighten up and enjoy!

  • Violin Accordion says:

    David is a treasure like no other. Graceful sensuous, fragile, this is a revelation from a thoughtful musician of great integrity

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Of course this Frankenconcerto is completely absurd, as is the “Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no. 5” cobbled together from the Rach Second Symphony.
    It’s not as if there aren’t gazillions of unplayed works that could really use some exposure.
    I agree with Norman : PLEASE, NO!

  • Peter says:

    Fritz Kreisler did this a long time ago, in his piece “Preghiera”. Then, of course, without synthezisers and with quality.

  • rather no says:

    very unpleasent person, not quite a good musician

  • IP says:

    Some serious tattoos here. . . and “jewellery”. Can we get back to music now?

  • christopher storey says:

    Perhaps he will learn to play the violin one day ?

  • phil newton says:

    Well Ludvig v B was 6

  • Jonathon says:

    Kreisler’s arrangement actually works quite well, when it’s performed with taste and respect for the piece….

  • Donald Wright says:

    Ages ago, when he was still in his early teens and only a classical violinist, I’d read a review of an album of his of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, and bought it on the strength of that review (this album:ühlings-Sonate-Partita-Adagio-Instrum/dp/B0173V9NS8 ). It’s stellar. Then I guess later he decided to go all flashy and trashy and appeal to the kitsch-loving crowd. A shame, although he probably wouldn’t think so, being far richer than he otherwise would be.

  • Steve says:

    Norman, some of us would have been happy for you to end the heading after the word “concerto”.

  • Jean says:

    I have an idea: Lang Lang playing Sibelius’ violin concerto on the piano ? Anyone…?

  • bruno michel says:

    Quite aside from the quality, which we will not bother to discuss, what is wrong with the principle of transcriptions? The title of this post seems to indicate that it would be sacrilegious. Many great pieces of music have been subjected to transcriptions for centuries, by the original composer or by other ones, and I think it is always an interesting exercise, at worst worth a listen, and at best an enrichment to our art, as it ends up being a piece on its own. And this piece has, as is commented above, been subject to transcriptions already. The problem is not doing Rach 2 with violin, therefore, as the title of this post indicates. The problem is doing it so badly, for such a facile display.

  • José Bergher says:

    I know of somebody who loves Barber’s Adagio for Strings and has arranged it for two accordions, castagnettes, bass drum, electric guitar, three contrabassoons, Wagner tuba, and harmonica. He’s looking for a publisher.

  • Harold Kupper says:

    Just judging the musical results I must say that, aside from a few too many sacharine portamenti and the processed metallic quality of the recorded solo violin sound, it was quite an effective transcription.
    Mr. Garret and his tiresome, self regarding onstage schtick is not for everyone but the man can communicate through the violin.
    It’s also nice to see his mentor Ida Haendel in the video.

  • Marfisa says:

    It looks as though the video element of this video has been created by an over-enthustiastic fan or possibly groupie, not Garrett himself. The music part is from Garrett’s album Caprice (2014). If you enjoy (as I certainly do) a full-blooded romantic rendering of this wonderful melody, this is great; better to listen with your eyes closed. For those classical highbrows who prefer their music tasteful, the version by Kremer and Trifonov recommended by another commenter will be their thing (though I found it just a tad unexciting, or even, dare I say, boring?).

    What a shame that Garrett has chosen to squander his considerable talent on a broader range of music and a younger audience, rather than pandering to the increasingly aging and elite devotees of the standard classical repertoire!

    • BruceB says:

      If he pandered with taste and good musicianship, I would actually admire him for it. As it is, I fear that by going with his splashy, “romantic” approach, he’s not only ignoring the subtleties to be found in great music of whatever genre, but also leaving his audience in the dark about the existence of such subtleties altogether. If a player doesn’t perform a big wave of soap-opera emotion that gushes over a listener, leaving them drenched, then they may think the emotion wasn’t there.

      I found that Kremer/Trifonov version to be a masterpiece of introspection; the picture comes to mind of someone looking out a window on a gray day, thinking of some past affair with a half-smile of nostalgia and regret, before his wife — the person he actually ended up marrying — calls him to dinner and back to the present (the kind of end-of-the-movie, “ten years later” scene that Jeremy Irons would be good at).

      Certainly there’s room for more heart-on-sleeve emoting in this piece, and someone else might choose a different approach (middle of the movie, where the young Jeremy Irons is in the middle of the torrid affair), but while Kremer’s version is nothing like Garrett’s, I couldn’t call it boring.

      • Marfisa says:

        Thank you for this attractive scenario. I’ll listen again – and in fact I was only half-serious! (But I am serious about ways of promoting classical music to a younger non-classically trained audience; and subtlety may not be the most effective initial approach. Younger people (under 40?) have time ahead of them to appreciate more nuanced interpretations, once they are hooked.)

      • Marfisa says:

        When I was younger, so much younger than today, I was told by serious school-friends who were into classical music that Rachmaninov was an inferior composer of old-fashioned treacly romantic music, and it was bad taste to enjoy him. Somehow, ever since then, I’ve regarded ‘taste’ with suspicion. (These were the same people who told me Haydn was lightweight and facile, hardly worth bothering with!)

        But I’ve listened again to Kremer/Trifonov, and it is indeed lovely, and not boring. And on the YT clip it was followed by the Trio elegiaque, which is wonderful. (

  • Nice Arrangement says:

    Nice arrangement, imo. The kitschy performance and sound editing not so much.


    Are they running out of ideas?

  • Carlos Alfredo says:

    Violin players want to get a hold on beautiful melodies composed for piano. That’s just envy.

  • Donna says:

    I’d rather watch a 15yo Alexander Malafeev play Rach’s 2nd with the Baltic Sea Orchestra (It’s on YouTube if you want)

  • jobim75 says:

    There would not be good taste witthout bad taste, we need kitsch to appreciate class. 2 faces of a coin.

  • Henri Craemer says:

    The playing is great. However this interpretation simply does not work. At about ¼ way through I had to force myself to listen to this massacre of one the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.