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David Oistrakh plays Devil’s Violin
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Violin Sonata Op.12 No.1 Rondo-Allegro only*
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Violin Sonatina D574 – Andantino only*
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)

Romanian Folk Dances
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Vocalise (arranged violin and piano)
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)

La Gitana
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)

Etude Caprice Op.18 No.5
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)

Spanish Dance Op.37 No.5 Andaluza
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Widmung – Myrthen Op.25
Tomaso VITALI (1663-1745)

Chaconne arranged Charlier
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)

Violin sonata in G minor Op.1 No.6 Devil’s Trill
Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787)

Melodie from Orfeo
David Oistrakh (violin)
Sviatoslav Richter (piano) *
Vladimir Yampolsky (piano)
Recorded 1947-72
AULOS MUSIC AMC2 048 [62.50]


Fresh from my Shafran marathon (more to come) Aulos now sow fresh seed with David Oistrakh. His early post-war discs have received currency and labels such as Doremi have been doing fine work in this field but it’s always good to welcome well-engineered newcomers and this is one such.

That said the selection, under the rubric David Oistrakh plays Devil’s Violin, is more than slightly unfocused. The bulk of recordings date from 1947 sessions but there are also two sonata movements (live) with Richter from 1972, the Tartini (which gives the disc its putative title) from 1956 and the exquisite Gluck from 1949. Only a solitary cough betrays that the Beethoven is a live recital – though one can tell from Oistrakh’s tone, fatter and with greater spread, that this is late Oistrakh, even though his vibrato in the Schubert is still capable of exceptional speed when necessary. When we step back to his immediate post-War discs however we hear the truly great player. His Bartók has saucily whistled harmonics and the tone has a smoky allure, the technique in the devilish driving sections as good as anyone’s. Vocalise is here – one of his favourite encores – though you might need a slight treble cut (the original engineering was rather bright and tiring). His Kreisler is silkily phrased, the Wieniawski tossed off with imperturbable wit though in the 1960s he tended to play Widmung with a heart stopping sense of exultation. Back in 1947 he favoured more classical restraint and it doesn’t quite take wing.

His baroque showpieces are of course powerful and magnetic violinistically. The Vitali starts slowly but has great delicacy as well as ranging moods and power (though Melodiya preserved a bad edit at 6.37 which Aulos hasn’t been able to remove). Yampolsky, even here, where he’s supposedly over shadowed proves an accompanist of great skill and colour. The Tartini is grandly conceived and in the romantic manner with a glorious cadenza. We finish with his Gluck; his slides here are almost as many as in his Vocalise. And it’s very true to say that he conveys in the Gluck a rare sense of delicacy, tranquillity and vocalised intimacy. No wonder professionals still love him or that he remains so revered a figure.

This is a slightly uneven selection – it doesn’t make for logical programming – but adherents won’t need a second invitation to acquaint themselves particularly with the 1947 selection. Aulos’ transfer system is excellent, albeit they haven’t quite tamed the strident sound of the Russian originals. But they do need to get a proper English translator for their notes. That aside, pure pleasure.

Jonathan Woolf

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