“Pity that I do not understand the art of war as well as I do the art of music; I should yet conquer Napoleon!” -- Beethoven
(To Krumpholz, the violinist, when he informed Beethoven of the victory of Napoleon at Jena.)
Best Available Recording
That one should be familiar with this work and have at least one or two good recordings of Beethoven's famous Violin Concerto is without question. Choosing the best available recording of the concerto is problematic for the simple reason that virtually all great violinists have recorded the work, sometimes on multiple occasions. It's a great piece, and the only violin concerto Beethoven penned.
Here are some choices to consider:
The 1994 recording of this wonderful work by Salvatore Accardo, with Carlo Maria Giulini conducting L'Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala. Giulini's sense of tempo for this piece seems correct, almost perfect. And the actual sound recording is quite good. (Accardo is most famous for his recordings of Paganini. We recommend considering those, as well.)
Anne-Sophie Mutter with Herbert von Karajan leading the Berlin Philharmonic, on Deutsche Grammaphon. If you already own one recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, then we recommend this as a good second recording. Why? Simply because it is so different from many other recordings of the concerto. It's also a delight to hear Anne-Sophie Mutter, who was a teenager when this recording was made.
Here's an interesting recording - Beethoven, Sibelius: Violin Concertos, issued by Sony Essential Classics. The Beethoven Concerto is performed by Zino Francescatti with Bruno Walter and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, and many listeners are quite taken with Francescatti's interpretation. As a bonus, you also get David Oistrakh and the Philadephia Orchestra led by Eugene Ormandy performing Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor, op 47.
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