Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

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Len_Z
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Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Len_Z » Tue May 01, 2012 1:54 am

Once again, I'd like to tap into the collective wisdom of this esteemed forum to answer the question asked in the topic subject.

Would love to hear about choices that might seem obvious to you as well as about the more unorthodox ones. Historic as well as modern performances are more than welcome.

As for me, my heart belongs to Oistrakh, and among today violinists I am really partial to Vadim Repin's and Leonidas Kavakos' renditions.

Would love to be surprised and learn something new on this subject.

Thanks in advance to everybody who would care to respond.

Allen
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Allen » Tue May 01, 2012 6:25 am

For me, Heifetz owns this concerto.

Listen to it here:

http://archive.org/details/SibeliusViolinConcerto

Heck148
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Heck148 » Tue May 01, 2012 8:11 am

Heifetz/Hendl/CSO is my favorite. Heifetz plays the be-jeezus right out of the piece - check out the opening of mvt III!! The orchestra sounds superb, as always...I played this work with Hendl, at Eastman, when he conducted for a student soloist. He really knew the piece, knew how to make the accompaniment work

I saw/heard a video of Oistrakh/Rozhdest'sky mvt II which was very good....

however, I do not care for Oistrakh/Ormandy - both soloist and orchestra sound too recessed, lacking in presence...

josé echenique
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by josé echenique » Tue May 01, 2012 8:41 am

Heifetz of course, violin playing of the highest order, but I also like 3 ladies: Anne Sophie Mutter who has the luxury of the Dresden Staatskapelle, the young Viktoria Mullova with the Boston Symphony, and the always engaging Kyung Wha Chung.
Kavakos playing both versions is essential, and he is by far the best recorded of all.

ContrapunctusIX
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Tue May 01, 2012 11:20 am

Heifetz/Hendl for the reasons mentioned above. Also love the Oistrakh/Ormandy, spotty sound and all. Kavakos is also excellent as mentioned by others.

Some other less well-known performances I enjoy are Szeryng/Rozhdestvensky/LSO (Philips), Haendel/Berglund/Bournemouth SO (EMI), and Shaham/Sinopoli/PO (DG).
Last edited by ContrapunctusIX on Tue May 01, 2012 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

maestrob
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by maestrob » Tue May 01, 2012 11:20 am

Heck148 wrote:Heifetz/Hendl/CSO is my favorite. Heifetz plays the be-jeezus right out of the piece - check out the opening of mvt III!! The orchestra sounds superb, as always...I played this work with Hendl, at Eastman, when he conducted for a student soloist. He really knew the piece, knew how to make the accompaniment work

I saw/heard a video of Oistrakh/Rozhdest'sky mvt II which was very good....

however, I do not care for Oistrakh/Ormandy - both soloist and orchestra sound too recessed, lacking in presence...
Agreed, but I like Oistrakh's Melodiya recording (below) as well as I like the Heifetz/Hendl....



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Heck148
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Heck148 » Tue May 01, 2012 12:33 pm

[quote="maestrob"]Agreed, but I like Oistrakh's Melodiya recording (below) as well as I like the Heifetz/Hendl....

I may have to check that one out - Oistrakh is one of my favorites, I was rather disappointed with his recording wirth Ormandy...i expected more...

stenka razin
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by stenka razin » Tue May 01, 2012 8:35 pm

Heifetz/Hendl is probably the best Sibelius of all time, but, I have at least thirty other performances of this great concerto and many of those are contenders, too. 8)


Regards,
Mel 8)
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John F
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by John F » Tue May 01, 2012 11:31 pm

Heifetz was certainly special in the Sibelius concerto, but Walter Hendl was not. Why didn't Reiner conduct that recording, instead of handing it over to his associate conductor? For me, Heifetz's 1935 recording with Sir Thomas Beecham and the London Philharmonic is the touchstone.

John Francis

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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Lance » Wed May 02, 2012 12:25 am

I hesitate to count my recorded versions of the Sibelius Violin Concerto. There are many. My favourites have always been those by Heifetz on EMI and RCA, though John Francis asks a good question as to why Reiner didn't conduct the Chicago SO in this recording and Hendl did. With Reiner at the helm, this would have been, no doubt, the ultimate more contemporary recording. Still, the Chicago SO is supreme quite by nature. Heifetz also recorded (live) the Sibelius with the NYP in 1951, Mitropoulos conducting. It, too, is a favorite of mine. I have also enormously enjoyed any of the recordings by David Oistrakh, and I have a soft spot for the Ida Haendel recording on EMI/Testament (live 1993) but especially her 1957 recording with Ancerl on Supraphon (1957). We are indeed fortunate to have such wonderful recordings available. Many of the later recordings simply do not compare artistically to these earlier versions. For example, the Ginette Neveu recordings with Walter Susskind has also been highly acclaimed over many years. Within the first few moments of the opening movement of the violin concerto will immediately let you know who is going to reign supreme in the work!
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John F
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by John F » Wed May 02, 2012 1:11 am

Evidently Reiner didn't think much of Sibelius's music. He recorded none of it, as far as I know, and rarely conducted it in concert. He knew the violin concerto and had conducted it in Pittsburgh with Heifetz as the soloist, and he recorded other concertos with Heifetz, so I suppose when RCA Victor wanted a stereo remake of the Sibelius with Heifetz, just Reiner wasn't interested.

Walter Hendl has his admirers in CMG, and he was undoubtedly a capable conductor - Reiner would have accepted nothing less, and indeed was Hendl's teacher at the Curtis Institute - with the special qualification of being able to get along with Reiner, which he did for the last five years of Reiner's life. (Louis Lane likewise served George Szell for 23 years.) But let's face it, he was a second-rater. Before going to Chicago he was music director of the Dallas Symphony, then the second-best orchestra in Texas, and afterward only the Erie Philharmonic wanted him as music director, despite the Chicago/Reiner connection. His conducting in the Heifetz/Sibelius recording is entirely competent but this is no more a partnership between major musicians than Heifetz's sonata recordings with Emanuel Bay and Brooks Smith.

But I suppose RCA Victor's options were so limited in 1959 that they pretty much had to accept a no-name conductor. They no longer had the Philadelphia Orchestra or the New York Philharmonic under contract, just the Chicago and Boston Symphonies, while their long-time partnership with EMI had lapsed, foreclosing recordings with Beecham and his Royal Philharmonic or with the Philharmonia. Charles Münch in Boston was no Sibelius enthusiast either, unlike his predecessor Serge Koussevitzky, and the orchestra's quality had fallen off during his decade as its music director; Chicago was playing better and its recording sessions, even without Reiner in charge, could be expected to be more efficient, i.e. with fewer retakes to fix orchestral problems.
John Francis

hangos
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by hangos » Wed May 02, 2012 11:18 am

John F wrote:Heifetz was certainly special in the Sibelius concerto, but Walter Hendl was not. Why didn't Reiner conduct that recording, instead of handing it over to his associate conductor? For me, Heifetz's 1935 recording with Sir Thomas Beecham and the London Philharmonic is the touchstone.

I would agree with the implication that the orchestral accompaniment has to be excellent in this concerto, which is why I prefer Lin's account with the Philhrmonia under Salonen. Jarvi's Gothenburg accompaniment to Silvia Marcovici is also very effective, but I don't get much from Ozawa's accompaniment to Mullova. Very often the recording also plays a huge part in terms of the orchestral balance and details.
By the way, I love Heifetz's RCA account, and Hendl is not that bad either!
Martin

Heck148
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Heck148 » Wed May 02, 2012 9:52 pm

John F wrote:Heifetz was certainly special in the Sibelius concerto, but Walter Hendl was not. Why didn't Reiner conduct that recording, instead of handing it over to his associate conductor?
That was a somewhat complex situation, that involved some controversy -

according to Philip Hart, [Fritz Reiner - A Biography] Heifetz wanted Reiner to conduct the recording session, but the session date fell during a vacation period for Reiner [1/59], and he wouldn't be available...rather than lose the valuable date, Kuyper, the CSO manager, persuaded Heifetz to accept Hendl as the conductor for the recording, which Heifetz agreed to. Heifetz and Hendl worked together frequently at times, Heifetz liked the way Hendl accompanied him on piano...according to Hendl, Heifetz frequently asked him to accompany him on recital tours, claimed that Hendl followed him better than anybody else...
Apparently Hendl told music critic Donal Henahan that Heifetz had requested him, tho it is likely that Hendl was not aware of the situation regarding the recording date and Reiner's availability. Reiner took offense at this. Also, Hendl and Kuyper got along quite well, whereas Reiner and Kuyper did not...

in any case, Hendl worked splendidly with Heifetz, and their recordings are truly excellent. I played the Sibelius with Hendl conducting, for a student concerto competition soloist. He really knew the piece, knew how to put it together.

Heck148
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Heck148 » Wed May 02, 2012 10:15 pm

John F wrote:Evidently Reiner didn't think much of Sibelius's music. so I suppose when RCA Victor wanted a stereo remake of the Sibelius with Heifetz, just Reiner wasn't interested.
True, Reiner did not like Sibelius' music in general. See my above posting regarding the recording date in 1959.
Walter Hendl has his admirers in CMG, and he was undoubtedly a capable conductor...... But let's face it, he was a second-rater.
Actually, that is incorrect. Hendl was a remarkable talent, and if one tracks his record, you will see that he was a true rising star in the 1940s, early 50s - He was actually ahead of Bernstein on the list - as early as 1945-46 Hendl is already the assistant conductor of the NYPO, an affiliation he would maintain until 1950. He was appointed music diretor of Dallas SO in 1950.

Hendl's problems were not related to his musical talents, but were the result of his own unhealthy habits - ETOH abuse, to be precise....He had real problems staying off the bottle....He messed up alot of positions because of this...You can be a huge talent, but if you show up sh#t-faced on the job, it's going to catch up with you.

It's too bad, because he was a major talent. Reiner knew conducting talent when he saw it, and he didn't screw around with "2nd-raters"....He gave Hendl a chance, and he did well at Chicago, unfortunately, his demons eventuially got the better of him...

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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by John F » Thu May 03, 2012 12:48 am

Heck148 wrote:
Walter Hendl has his admirers in CMG, and he was undoubtedly a capable conductor...... But let's face it, he was a second-rater.
Actually, that is incorrect. Hendl was a remarkable talent, and if one tracks his record, you will see that he was a true rising star in the 1940s, early 50s - He was actually ahead of Bernstein on the list - as early as 1945-46 Hendl is already the assistant conductor of the NYPO, an affiliation he would maintain until 1950. He was appointed music diretor of Dallas SO in 1950.

Hendl's problems were not related to his musical talents, but were the result of his own unhealthy habits - ETOH abuse, to be precise....He had real problems staying off the bottle....He messed up alot of positions because of this...You can be a huge talent, but if you show up sh#t-faced on the job, it's going to catch up with you.

It's too bad, because he was a major talent. Reiner knew conducting talent when he saw it, and he didn't screw around with "2nd-raters"....He gave Hendl a chance, and he did well at Chicago, unfortunately, his demons eventuially got the better of him...
Excuses, excuses. Whatever his "unhealthy habits," Hendl lived to be 90, and in all those years his talent, such as it was, didn't persuade major orchestras to entrust their artistic direction to him, despite the presumed endorsement of Fritz Reiner. Talent is another word for potential, not achievement, and in the end it's achievement that counts.

Getting down to cases, Reiner didn't require a big talent in his #2 - the evidence is to the contrary. George Schick, a competent time-beater, was the associate when he arrived, and Reiner stayed with him for several years. When Schick leftg, Reiner hired Samuel Antek, a violinist in the NBC Symphony whose undistinguished conducting career - he led the New Jersey Symphony for 11 uneventful years - was cut short when he died just before moving to Chicago. So Hendl wasn't even Reiner's first choice. You're saying that Reiner "didn't screw around with '2nd-raters'"? The record says otherwise.

Nobody questions Hendl's musicianship, or Schick's for that matter, or even their executive abilities. Both headed important American conservatories. They just didn't have what it takes to lead a major orchestra, and that can't be explained away.

Like I said, Hendl has his admirers here, and I was thinking particularly of you. But you're incorrect to call my judgment "incorrect" - correctness has nothing to do with it.
John Francis

Heck148
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Heck148 » Thu May 03, 2012 8:13 am

John F wrote: Excuses, excuses. Whatever his "unhealthy habits," Hendl lived to be 90, and in all those years his talent, such as it was, didn't persuade major orchestras to entrust their artistic direction to him,
Excuses?? Hardly - Hendl was a great talent who never realized his fullest potential because of his substance abuse problems. He was his own worst enemy - but it wasn't his musicianship and conducting ability that were in question. Nobody questioned his podium abilities, he just was not dependable. The guy just couldn't stay straight consistently.
George Schick, a competent time-beater, was the associate when he arrived....Samuel Antek, a violinist in the NBC Symphony
Neither Schick nor Antek was ever assistant coinductor of the NYPO, not even remotely close to it.
Nobody questions Hendl's musicianship,
you are, and you are wrong. you are incorrect. you're not an orchestral musician, you never worked with him, you are confusing personal problems with conducting ability. Hendl had both, in abundance.

personally, he was really a bit of a jerk - nasty, domineering, sarcastic - but he knew what he wanted musically, knew how to get it, knew how to fix things quickly...rehearsals were quite tense and nerve-wracking, but the performances were terrific, very thrilling...every one had the potential to be superb...that does not come from some pedestrian level 2nd-rater.....

Regarding his concerto accompaniments, you may not like his efforts, but I'd say that puts you in disagreement with a great majority, including the soloist...

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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by Len_Z » Sun May 06, 2012 9:07 am

stenka razin wrote:Heifetz/Hendl is probably the best Sibelius of all time, but, I have at least thirty other performances of this great concerto and many of those are contenders, too. 8)


Regards,
Mel 8)
Would love to hear about at least some of these contenders. No need to elaborate, just a list of soloists/conductors will do.

Thanks in advance!

mikealdren
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Re: Favorite recordings of Sibelius Violin Concerto?

Post by mikealdren » Mon May 07, 2012 3:55 am

I have 29 versions including the original version with Kavakos and my general view is that the Sibelius has been lucky on record with many excellent versions and a fair amount of variety. Only two really fail for me, Menhuin and Hilary Hahn , neither of whom really seems to have an overall feeling for the the piece.

Lots of Scandanavian conductors, I hadn't really thought about that as a factor before. My favourite? Well I still love Oistrakh and the Ormandy version was the first I heard and still works for me, not perfect and the sound is dated now but the emotion shines through.

Mike

Soloist Orchestra Conductor Rec date
Batiashvili Finnish RSO Oramo 11/5/2007
Chang BPO Jansons 8/11/1996
Frang WDR SO Søndergård 13/3/2009
Gitlis VSO Horenstein
Hahn Swedish RSO Salonen 3/2007
Heifetz CSO Hendl 10/1/1959
Heifetz LPO Beecham 26/11/1935
Ignatius Berlin Staatsoper Järnfelt 26/1/1943
Kavakos Lahti SO Vänskä
Kraggerud Bournemouth SO Engeset 26/6/2003
Lin Philharmonia Salonen 1987
Little RLPO Handley 7/1991
Marcovici Gothenburg SO Järvi 17/6/1987
Menuhin LPO Boult 1955
Neveu Philharmonia Susskind 21/11/1946
Oistrakh Philadelphia Ormandy 21/12/1959
Oistrakh Moscow RSO Rozhdestvensky 1965
Oistrakh Finnish RSO Fougstedt 6/1954
Oistrakh Stockholm Festival O Ehrling 11/6/1954
Oistrakh Moscow PO Rozhdestvensky 14/2/1966
Perlman Pittsburgh SO Previn 1979
Repin LSO Krivine 1996
Sitkovetsky Czech PO Anosov 1953
Spivakovski LSO Hannikainen
Stern RPO Beecham 1951
Vengerov CSO Barenboim 1996
Zarins Latvian National SO Sinaisky 1989
Zehetmair Leipzig Gewanthaus O Masur 1987
Kavakos Lahti SO Vänskä Original version

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