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The Essential DAVID OISTRAKH - Artists of the Century series.

Violin Concerto No. 1 21.16
Violin Concerto 38.52
Two Romances 7.11+8.57
David Oistrakh (violin) Moscow PO/Rozhdestvensky (Beethoven); Kondrashin (Mozart, Brahms)
rec 1963 (Mozart; Brahms) 1968 (Beethoven).
Violin Concerto No. 1 36.27
David Oistrakh (violin) Leningrad PO/Yevgeni Mravinsky
rec 1956 mono
Violin Concerto No. 2 29.34
David Oistrakh (violin) Moscow PO/Kyrill Kondrashin
rec 1967 BMG CLASSICS - RCA RED SEAL 74321 72914 2 Disc 1 76.41 + Disc 2 66.35

Any Oistrakh album is likely to be an event to celebrate rather than lament and so it is here. Contrary to the usual pattern for the RCA-BMG 'Artists of the Century' series this 2CD collection includes tracks not previously released. The whole of the first disc is allotted to live concert tapes (yes, with applause) taken down in the Grand Hall of the Moscow State Conservatoire during the early 1960s except for the Beethoven Romances which date from 1968. The Mozart and Beethoven are imbued with a hasty and yet haughtily romantic approach ripely driven by Kondrashin and Oistrakh alike - no sense of conflict here! The Brahms is perhaps rather slender of amplitude in the orchestral violins but nothing else is compromised. No doubt Oistrakh might have given a more tempestuous reading had this been taped during the 1940s. The music remains lit by his confident yet sensitively aristocratic approach. The two Beethoven trifles pass by in agreeable style.

The two Shostakovich concerto Melodiya recordings are well known to collectors from Chant du Monde and EMI (LP). The First (the only mono tracks in the set) is excoriating, vinegary in richness (the first movement like an acrid echo of Finzi's Introit) and a hard sparkle glints trenchantly in the finale. The hardness is not all that surprising. 1949 was the year in which he was expelled from his teaching posts. The booklet claims that the work is genial; not in Oistrakh's hands. Geniality can be found in the far less profound contemporaneous Kabalevsky violin concerto also recorded by Oistrakh (Vanguard). The second is typically gaunt, enigmatic, profound (in the adagio steppes of the second movement) and skull-like. There is hardly anything in the way of concession to the popular gallery here. Oistrakh is strong and forbidding in keeping with the music's glimmering dissonance.

A generous and contrasted pair of discs. The Shostakovich is a library staple. It may well irk some that the first disc's attractions will require others to duplicate their existing Shostakovich/Oistrakh CDs.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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