> Sibelius - Beethoven: Violin Concertos [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Violin Concerto (1905)
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Violin Concerto (1806)
Zino Francescatti (violin)
Columbia SO/Bruno Walter (Beethoven)
David Oistrakh (violin)
Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy (Sibelius)
rec Legion Hall, Hollywood, 23, 26 Jan 1961 (Beethoven); Philadelphia, 21 Dec 1959 (Sibelius) ADD


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This is not the most orthodox of couplings. Sony must have been struggling against the 'usual suspects'. How easy it would have been to match up Oistrakh's Philadelphia Sibelius with his Tchaikovsky - both with Ormandy and the Fabulous Philadelphians. Instead Oistrakh is harnessed to Francescatti and his Tchaikovsky is with Gilels/Mehta on another Sony Essential.

Francescatti is well up to the challenge of the Beethoven at all levels and turns in a good performance. He is delicacy personified and makes the violin sing without undue vibrato. This effect is aided by Bruno Walter whose smiling song lofts the music to sun-drenched pastures. To hear unselfish mutuality at play listen to 1.01 in the finale.

The Sibelius tape is only a couple of years older and yet the hiss is noticeably more pronounced. Oistrakh gives a very fine performance partnered by a doughty Sibelian who had within ten years before this recording visited Sibelius in Järvenpää. The unmistakable gruff stamp of authority can be heard from the very first bars of the allegro ma non tanto. In fact the details and flair of this interpretation call out time after time. I have never heard those scudding-thudding violins with such clarity as at 3.19 in the finale until I heard this version.

Two superb recordings getting long in the tooth but only giving the game away in the discreet hiss in the Sibelius and in the peripheral surface bleaching of string sound opulence in the Beethoven.

Rob Barnett

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