Author Topic: Greatest living violinists  (Read 6148 times)

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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Greatest living violinists
« on: September 27, 2015, 11:13:42 PM »
I have been collecting historic violin recordings almost since I started collecting CDs and LPs in the early 90s. To my chagrin, I have really overlooked living violinists. In my limited experience with the recent performers, I have liked what I have heard from Hilary Hahn, Julia Fischer, but I really do not care for Perlman. What else do I need to investigate, and who are the greats of today?
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Jo498

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2015, 11:57:10 PM »
Unless you are put off by his sometimes not so beautiful sound, Gidon Kremer is one of the most adventurous and expressive fiddlers of the last decades. Try the Bach soli on ECM or the Beethoven sonatas with Argerich.
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Offline North Star

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2015, 12:21:25 AM »
There are plenty of violinists these days.
These should keep you busy for a while: Lisa Batiashvili, Fabio Biondi (period instrument Baroque), Renaud Capuçon, James Ehnes, Isabelle Faust (from Baroque (PI mostly) to modern), Vilde Frang, Ilya Gringolts, John Holloway, Daniel Hope, Alina Ibragimova, Leila Josefowitz, Leonidas Kavakos, Sergey Khachatryan, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Laurent Korcia, Gidon Kremer, Tasmin Little, Andrew Manze (period instruments, baroque / classical), Anthony Marwood (soloist, Florestan Trio) , Viktoria Mullova (from HIP Baroque to Prokofiev and beyond), Anne-Sophie Mutter, Vadim Repin, Daniel Sepec (in Arcanto SQ, Biber Mystery Sonata recording, etc), Gil Shaham, Christian Tetzlaff, Maxim Vengerov (quite polarizing, some like him and some can't stand him), Antje Weithaas (in Arcanto SQ, solo work), Thomas Zehetmair (soloist, Zehetmair Quartet), Frank-Peter Zimmermann
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Offline amw

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2015, 02:06:14 AM »
Here's five: Arditti, Mullova, Kremer, Faust, Kopatchinskaja

and some other (lesser known?) people I've been very impressed with lately: Isabelle van Keulen, Alina Ibragimova, Tanja Becker-Bender, Carolin Widmann, Thomas Albertus Irnberger

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2015, 02:24:23 AM »
One I have always admired is Rachel Barton Pine, who survived a serious accident just as she was coming into her own. I don't know if she is top 5, but she is very musical in her playing.

Meanwhile, North Star has hit on most of them...
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Offline JCBuckley

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2015, 02:40:41 AM »
For Baroque: Rachel Podger

ZauberdrachenNr.7

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2015, 03:19:11 AM »
Kremer makes for a superb and innovative 'program director,' but his sound is way too steely for my taste, while Perlman's is way too fruity.  Goldilocks wants Shlomo Mintz, unmentioned above.  Shaham also recommendable.  Roger on Podger.  Add to the list Joshua Bell.

Offline Brian

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2015, 04:12:44 AM »
My top ten would include (in no particular order)
Julia Fischer, James Ehnes, Isabelle Faust, Tianwa Yang, Gil Shaham, Rachel Podger, Viktoria Mullova, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Hilary Hahn, and Frank Peter Zimmermann.

The most underrated violinists in my book are Frank Peter Zimmermann, Vadim Gluzman, and Corey Cerovsek.

Just so that you have a good idea of where these guys are, stylistically, here are some of the above-listed violinists, re-grouped into categories:

Super old-school, golden-toned romantics with big, full sounds
James Ehnes
Tianwa Yang
Gil Shaham
Vadim Gluzman
Anne-Sophie Mutter
(in my rough order of preference)

Razor-sharp, but in a good way
Hilary Hahn
Frank Peter Zimmermann

Play period instruments, or influenced by period instruments, at least some of the time
Isabelle Faust
Gil Shaham
Rachel Podger
Viktoria Mullova
Frank Peter Zimmermann

James Ehnes is, by FAR, the best violinist I've ever seen live. I saw Anne-Sophie Mutter in the unforgiving Barbican acoustic, and loved a Rachel Podger concert, but Ehnes is incredible.

Offline North Star

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2015, 04:37:21 AM »
Corey Cerovsek
Yes! Excellent live, and the Beethoven sonata recording with Jumppanen is probably the reference recording.

I've only heard/seen Ehnes on recordings, but I must agree that he is incredible. The Homage album, where he plays a dozen violins violas (and half a dozen or so bows) from David Fulton's collection (which he was at least intending to sell after that) showcasing their tones is quite an achievement, and not many violinists could do that.

I too should have included Vadim Gluzman as well, the third of the trio Guzman, Repin & Vengerov, who all were taught by Zakhar Bron.

Regarding Mullova's period affinity, I'd add that it's only applicable to the later part of her career (from early 2000s onwards, as far as I recall).

Podger's Biber Rosary set is released soon, btw.
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Offline ChamberNut

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2015, 04:37:48 AM »

James Ehnes is, by FAR, the best violinist I've ever seen live. I saw Anne-Sophie Mutter in the unforgiving Barbican acoustic, and loved a Rachel Podger concert, but Ehnes is incredible.

James Ehnes is from Manitoba originally, and returns to perform in Winnipeg on an almost yearly basis.  I've been fortunate to see him perform more than a few times.  :)
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Offline North Star

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2015, 04:42:28 AM »
James Ehnes is from Manitoba originally, and returns to perform in Winnipeg on an almost yearly basis.  I've been fortunate to see him perform more than a few times.  :)
He certainly has some chops, Ray! What have you heard him play live?

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Offline ChamberNut

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2015, 04:54:58 AM »
He certainly has some chops, Ray! What have you heard him play live?


Korngold, Tchaikovsky and Bruch (Scottish Fantasy)  :)
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Offline North Star

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2015, 05:01:43 AM »
Korngold, Tchaikovsky and Bruch (Scottish Fantasy)  :)
Those must have been very nice indeed. There's a video of him talking about the Tchaik. and playing passages from it - also the orchestra violins', which are almost as challenging as anything in the solo score. Technical perfection and squeaky cleanness certainly seem to be his trademark. Some haven't liked his Bartók because of this. Haven't heard it myself.
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Offline ChamberNut

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2015, 05:03:43 AM »
Those must have been very nice indeed. There's a video of him talking about the Tchaik. and playing passages from it - also the orchestra violins', which are almost as challenging as anything in the solo score. Technical perfection and squeaky cleanness certainly seem to be his trademark. Some haven't liked his Bartók because of this. Haven't heard it myself.

They were all masterful performances, with the highlight being the Korngold.  His style was made for this concerto.
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Offline Brian

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2015, 06:25:51 AM »
They were all masterful performances, with the highlight being the Korngold.  His style was made for this concerto.
...and also for the Barber, which I just saw Ehnes do with the Montreal Symphony and Kent Nagano. The technical perfection needed for a neoclassical score, married to the heart-on-sleeve emoting.

The other time I saw him was with the Philharmonia, doing Bruch No. 1.

Offline Brian

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2015, 08:12:58 AM »
Three more HIPsters: Giuliano Carmignola, Amandine Beyer, and Ariadne Daskalakis.

However, I think that this is getting away from a really concise look at the "Greatest Living Violinists", who are probably to be found among the 3-4 people we've discussed most in this thread. :)

Offline North Star

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2015, 08:34:14 AM »
However, I think that this is getting away from a really concise look at the "Greatest Living Violinists", who are probably to be found among the 3-4 people we've discussed most in this thread. :)
That's Hahn, Ehnes, Kremer, Mullova, Faust, Fischer right? Not a bad list, to begin with. Their solo Bach recordings do make for an interesting comparison.

Barnabas Kelemen is another name worth checking out, his Brahms VC in Oulu made Mutter's wonderful Mozart & Rihm VC concert with Kammerorchester Wien-Berlin a couple days later seem almost anticlimactic. Just to keep this thread from getting too concise.  >:D
« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 12:05:02 PM by North Star »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2015, 08:42:48 AM »

Super old-school, golden-toned romantics with big, full sounds
James Ehnes



I don't think Ehnes has a 'big, full sound' at all. Maybe in the concert hall but every recording I've heard with him, he sounds rather the opposite of a full sound actually. Very small presence.
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2015, 09:15:35 AM »
My faves (in alpha order):

Augustin Hadelich
Hilary Hahn
Leila Josefowicz
Leonidas Kavakos
Anne-Sophie Mutter
Christian Tetzlaff

But most of the others mentioned are right up there, too; it is a (pleasantly) crowded field. And there are so many other young, up-and-coming violinists around, e.g., Itamar Zorman (who plays with the Israeli Chamber Project, an excellent group of musicians) or Jennifer Koh - I'm sure I could think of others.

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Offline ChamberNut

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Re: Greatest living violinists
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2015, 09:25:03 AM »
I don't think Ehnes has a 'big, full sound' at all. Maybe in the concert hall but every recording I've heard with him, he sounds rather the opposite of a full sound actually. Very small presence.

Who are some of your favourite living violinists, John:)
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