Badass violin and cello solos

Hi, folks - anyone care to recommend some frankly badass violin and cello solos? Define “badass”, however you like, but please, no Paganini - he’s great, but I’m looking for stuff I don’t already know about, here.

How about Monti Czardas? You must listen to the whole thing if you want to know what I mean.

Is it too obvious to mention the Bach cello suites?

Does a duet count if they’re both cellos? Pretty much anything by 2CELLOS, but this is one of the best…

Smooth Criminal

And AU, totally agree about Czardas.

I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for but here’s my friends’ band. It’s a bit long and the sound quality isn’t great, but there’s some serious blues fiddlin’ in there.

Solos only? Hm. I can point to badass cello duos (2Cellos performing “Smooth Criminal” on Ellen) and larger groups (Apocalyptica, a heavy metal cello group, performing “In the Hall of the Mountain King”), but I don’t know of any solos that would really fit the bill–or at least, none you probably don’t know better than I.

A simplistic search did lead me to Zoë Keating, who does some pretty amazing things with a cello and live looping.

Are you looking for something to listen to, or something to learn to perform?

Not sure if this fits what you’re looking for, but …

For violin, I’m a big fan of Lindsey Stirling’s stuff:
For cello, Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys:
And for both, well Lindsey Stirling with The Piano Guys:

Stephane Grappelli, Hot Club of France. With Django Reinhardt on guitar. Brilliant.

Mark O’Connor does Hot Club fiddling today. Jams that and bluegrass - probably the best player alive for those genres. Check him out.

You mean like this? :wink:

He (O’Connor) also plays a wicked viola once in a while.

Anything by Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg. She’s even more amazing to watch in person. Unlike most performers, she doesn’t always make herself look or sound “pretty.” And the other two soloists hold up their end as well. This piece was composed by Dave Brubeck’s son, Chris.

Oh my stars… :eek:


Some of my classical violin favorites:

Caprice Basque, by Sarasate, as performed by Itzhak Perlman

Hora Staccato, by Diniscu, as performed by Jascha Heifetz. The tune itself isn’t all that remarkable but that bowstroke is insanely hard. I have no idea how you do downbow staccato that fast.

Ravel’s Tzigane, done by Midori.

Jean Luc Ponty did a ton of great stuff when he was with Frank Zappa.

live in 1973 in Sweden

Prolly my favorite tho is Canard du Jour from Return of the Son of Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar.

I was at O’Hare a few weeks ago behind a very pretty blonde woman who had a violin case. As we went through security, I asked if she worried about subjecting her violin to the scan. She corrected me that it was a viola and we chatted a bit. I asked if she played any music other than classical, she asked what I meant, and I mentioned Hot Club jazz/ Grappelli.

“Oh, I’m friends with Mark O’Connor”


So we talk and it turns out she’s part of O’Connor’s gang of Appalachian / Hot Jazz players - her name is Carol Cook, she’s Scottish (IIRC) and has played with Mark, Yo Yo Ma, Edwin Meyer, etc - even recorded with O’Connor. It was a nice discussion.

Obviously, she had the highest praise for O’Connor.

Four hands, one cello.

Bonus: this music’s in my favourite time signature. (7/8)

Time for Three does some great violin work. Here’s their version of Csardas.

It’s a Beautiful Day hand plenty of good violin parts to choose from. Here’s “Don and Dewey.”

Speaking of Don and Dewey, here’s Don “Sugarcane” Harris with “Directly From My Heart to You” With the Mothers (the image is a non-sequitur).

Papa John Creach did some nice violin work for the Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna,and solo. Here’s him doing “St. Louis Blues” as the background.

Regina Carter does a badass cover of Eddie Harris’ Listen Here.

I will say the most badass violin playing was the time I saw Itzhak Perlman perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center about 20 years ago. Perlman was playing the Beethovan Violin Concerto and, in the first moment, he broke a string.

Then . . . . .

He turned to the concertmaster and borrowed his violin and finished the movement with a violin he had never played before. It was one of the few times I’d seen a classical audience clap after the end of a movement.

Joshua Bell - Tambourin Chinois

Joshua Bell plays Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor Op. 28 by Camille Saint-Saens