Violin Concerto (1938)
Violin Concerto (1940)
Dance in B flat (Oistrakh/Abram Makarov)
USSR State SO/Aleander Gauk (both concertos)
PEARL GEMM CD
Has anyone matched Oistrakh's mesh of tragic beauty and sickle-edged technique?
Heifetz too often speaks the language of the pristine technician but the
heart beats rather than thriobs (there are exceptions: Elgar/Sargent and
Walton - second version). Kogan approaches Oistrakh's artistry though his
glowering Revelation recording of the Khachaturyan is no longer available.
Little needs to be said about the Khachaturyan concerto. It is easy to like
and that is no criticism. It is an exciting lyrical work with a Hollywood
veneer, a touch of oriental magic and a swooping flightpath. Here Oistrakh
lends it dignity as well as passion. An easy winner in anyone's books. If
you do not know it think of a blend of Tchaikovsky, Borodin and with Eastern
allure. A cut or ten above the eagerly generous Korngold concerto. You need
to hear this work. If you must have stereo then the BMG-Melodiya Khachaturyan
twofer (Oistakh again) is well worth your attention. For those with bullet-proof
ears there is the Kaufman on Citadel.
The little dance (Op. 1) has a Hispanic snap and is not far remote, in mood,
from Saint-Saens' Havanaise (another Kogan triumph on Philips)
Still more intriguing is the epic Miaskovsky concerto. Actually it is not
all that long - only 36.42. It is a subtler work than the Khachaturyan delving
deeper into the poetry and Slav soorrow. The first movement strikes a
firm-chinned unapologetic note with a solo part of slender beauty as if Oistrakh
embraces this lovable music. That nostalgic elegiac air which hangs heavily
over the cello concerto is here also but offset by fantasy and dalliance
reiminscent of the Prokofiev first violin concerto (the latter best heard
in Szigeti's HMV recording and in Sitkovetsky's on Virgin). The excoriating
and diving strings announced at the start of the finale are straight out
of Elgar's Introduction and Allegro. if there were any justice this
concerto would have had multiple recordings by the great, the good and the
media-feted but no such fate ... as yet. The Miaskovsky is not currently
otherwise available although you may be able to find Grigori Feigin's excellent
Olympia CD (stereo Russian performance from the 1970s) if you look hard.
The rising generation of young violinists would do well to couple the Miaskovsky
with Janis Ivanovs' concerto. How to make a hit with two rare and bright-eyed
concertos combining subtlety with poetry.
Pearl's recorded sound is excellent given the vintage: sixty years old from
recordings taken down onto 35 mm film. The Miaskovsky is excellent, mono
of course: vivid and cleanly detailed.
This is another of my recommended discs of the month. A treasure for
playing rather than shelf pride.
If you want to explore beyond the Tchaikovsky and Elgar concertos this is