Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Violin Concerto (1948) [15.40]
Romance (1902) [4.45]  
  David Oistrakh (violin) State SO of Russia/Kiril Kondrashin (Glazunov & Gliere); Kabalevsky (Kabalevsky)  
rec circa 1952; 1953 for the Gliere. mono OMEGA CLASSICS OCD1025 [42.10]


By most accounts this is short measure. However 'most accounts' are no measure of musical merit in the present case.

Kondrashin and Oistrakh give the Glazunov (long a favourite of mine) one of its most free-wheeling performances, pointed, relaxed, dramatic, humming and dancing. I had just heard and reviewed the recent BMG compilation including the Glazunov. This is a plodding performance if you judge by the timings alone. Heifetz despatches the Glazunov in 18.57 and does it in fizzing style. Oistrakh and comrades let loose the spirit of fantasy and are even free enough to make me think of Delius's concerto at 2.49.

The Kabalevsky (clearly recorded in a different hall from the Glazunov) is more slender in sound and the ever so slightly hazy focus of the Glazunov is gone. Oistrakh gambols and skitters his way through the Allegro con Brio - vapid thematically speaking, it is nevertheless a sure-fire recipe for instant gratification. A similar accolade for the Shostakovichian rapid-fire sparks of the Vivace giocoso which also contrives to be just a bit vulgar and gormless. The central andante cantabile has a lot to live up to with a title like that but manages rather well especially in the ppp roulades of the soloist over the 'lonely steppes' melody of the orchestra.

Gliere's reserved Tchaikovskian Romance rises to a technicolour peak and then contentedly subsides in wash of Delius and Korngold. Gone almost before it started!

These recordings are from mono analogue tapes but I detected no hiss.

I do not recognise the name of the orchestra - at least not from the 1950s. This is surely the USSR State Symphony Orchestra rejoicing under a politically correct title.

Music making of a notable order and the Glazunov bids fair to be the best recording ever if you can take the perfectly respectable (though haloed) mono analogue sound. Well worth its bargain price and more.


Rob Barnett

Omega/Vanguard Classics
27 W 72nd Street, NYC 10023-3401
Tel (212) 769 3060
Fax (212) 769 3195


Rob Barnett



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