I recently heard a recording of a violinist playing a concerto. And I have to say I wasn't impressed. It was out of tune and sounded like a bad case of nerves. We all have bad days, and I know, ye who casts the first stone. But it just wasn't that good. The recording quality was alright, it wasn't the mic placement, and I have to say the orchestra sounded alright. I have to say all of my teachers wouldn't have accepted this level of playing...and again, I'm not saying that I am at a higher level. But then again, I don't claim to be god's gift to violin either (ignore the great eskimo violinist tag at the title of this blog!) ;)
I will continue to go and hear this violinist. But I won't be running to the concerts, as I might for say, Gil Shaham or Hilary Hahn (who I think are the world greatest living violinists!)
Anyway, it made me go back to the origins of violin virtuosi - Nicolo Paganini.
Every era has great violinists, and there are many ways to figure out and decide who is the best. Of course, there is no right answer. But there are plenty of wrong ones! See folks like the former concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony - they have plenty of opinions of who is suitable and who is not. So I encourage you to look into the great violinist of his time, and probably all time!
Paganini Website (http://www.paganini.com/nicolo/nicindex.htm)