Only a few things to say about this entirely apt, not
to say indispensable, addition to the GROC series. The concerto is well
known to long-standing collectors and can without hesitation be selected
the sole version in your library if you need to ration yourself. The
tonal range of David Oistrakh (30 September 1908 - 23 October 1974)
is wide indeed and splendid in its radiance, accentuated virtuosity
and glowering power. He conspires with Szell in a performance about
which not once do you have cause to feel that this is in sleep-mode.
The performance is of astounding orchestral unanimity (listen to the
end of the first movement) as you would expect from the ferocious Szell.
Ferocity, yes, but listen also to the plaintive vulnerable oboe at the
start of the slow movement. Be reassured that Szell could cozen poetry
from his furnace-drilled orchestra when required.
Vladimir (Volodya) Yampolsky (1905-1965) accompanies
Oistrakh in the Brahms Op. 108 sonata. Yampolsky worked with Oistrakh
from 1946 until 1961. If you know the name Yampolsky it is probably
because his son Victor, the conductor, has made several recordings for
Naxos. Oistrakh scales everything down for the sonata which proceeds
briskly and temperately by comparison with the furies that grip the
Oistrakh version on the Concerto.
Oistrakh was born David Kolker in Odessa and took the
name 'Oistrakh' from his musician stepfather. In the 1930s he made his
debuts outside the USSR - Budapest, Vienna and Prague. The war and political
conditions restricted his and our chances to hear him but the early
1950s liberated him to travel to the USA and UK. His reputation preceded
him as did that of Rostropovich and to a lesser extent Daniil Shafran.
Soon he was making many recordings both sides of what was, in those
days, known as the 'Iron Curtain'.
Rewarding, freshly produced notes by Tully Potter in
which he has taken real trouble to make this a true marriage of information
on Oistrakh and Brahms.
This is Oistrakh in full flow and caught in the splendour
of his long-sustained high noon.
Great Recordings of the Century