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The Famous Oistrakh Trio
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Trio in F minor Op.65
Trio in E minor Op.90 Dumky
David Oistrakh (violin)
Sviatoslav Knushevitzky (cello)
Lev Oborin (piano)
No recording details
PREISER RECORDS 90593 [73.08]


Here’s another Preiser retrieval of the Oistrakh Trio to join the ones I’ve already written about. Again they are undated but they originally appeared on Melodiya and seem to have been made c1947-49 and then were licensed to such as Westminster and Colosseum where they gained some exposure. But the trio’s recordings have since fallen between the cracks and apart from Doremi’s work in their Oistrakh edition I don’t believe that any of them have made an extended CD release before.

Unlike one of the Schubert trios already released the sound here is relatively open and one can listen with pleasure. There may be a slight treble cut but listening is otherwise unproblematic. The F minor finds the stellar trio on excellent form, mining some very Slavic writing from the opening paragraph of the first movement; they’re especially good at sustaining tension here, Oborin leading with tantalising drive, and cellist Knushevitzky impressing with his leanly projected lyric tone, very even across the scale. The Allegretto is properly animated, and they note the Poco Adagio indication, not taking it too languorously – it’s elastic but pliant, with Oistrakh’s playing elegant and intensely beautiful in the higher positions. They respond wholeheartedly to the buoyancy and vivacity of the finale.

The Dumky trio however had me nonplussed. Right from the start with intensely inward playing this is a highly italicised and odd performance, a touch too sentimental in the second movement, more Adagio than Andante in the third where things become bogged down in a kind of sanctified stasis (Oborin in the main). There are plenty of expectedly fine things here – not least Knushevitzky’s Lento maestoso "lied" - but I must admit I wearied of the too-ing and fro-ing and the lack of direction in this performance of a work that, popular though it is, requires a spine running through it if it’s not to seem diffuse.

Questions of interpretation apart Preiser’s presentation is attractive, transfers are good and we edge nearer a proper realisation of those previously tough to find Trio recordings.

Jonathan Woolf


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