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The Famous Oistrakh Trio
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Trio A minor (1914)
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Trio in D minor Op.9 Élégiaque (1893)
David Oistrakh (violin)
Sviatoslav Knushevitzky (cello)
Lev Oborin (piano)
No recording details
PREISER RECORDS 90596 [72.19]


This is the fourth volume that I have reviewed in Preiser’s invigorating Oistrakh Trio series. Most seem to have been recorded c1947-49 though no dates or locations are given in the notes (the sessions were made in Moscow and originally released on Melodiya 78s). Apart from Doremi’s Oistrakh edition you’d have been hard pressed to come across any of the Trio sides which, so far as I’m aware, last saw general service on a series of smaller labels – Colosseum, Westminster, Monitor and the like – in the days of LPs. Of the series that I’ve sampled only one recording, that of a Schubert trio, was boxily recorded; the others are much more valuably forward in the studio acoustic and that’s the case here.

Oistrakh was a noted exponent of the Ravel Sonata and Tzigane – his partnership with Frida Bauer has preserved his interpretations - and it’s no surprise that his trio should prove so persuasive in the Trio. Oistrakh was a big, romantic player but he could scale down his playing when necessary and the lyric delicacy of his phrasing here is memorable as are the very natural and discreet warming portamanti that fleck the opening of the first movement. Knushevitzky is rock solid, his pizzicati in the skittish Pantoum perfectly accurate and Oborin is as ever an ensemble player of the highest distinction. The heart of the performance is the Passacaille that emerges both boldly resonant and intimately withdrawn, the string players’ husky viola orientated sonority when playing in unison being especially memorable. The finale is vibrant and challenging; ensemble is fine, Oistrakh’s trill is sustained without hindrance, though there’s a bit of forte blasting in the piano statements toward the end.

Rachmaninov’s Trio, written in memory of Tchaikovsky in 1893, is one of his earliest works. It’s also plainly emulating Tchaikovsky’s own Trio, down to the second movement variations – and also the big, powerful span - and it lasts fully forty five minutes in this performance. Oborin proves himself a master of this big-boned rhetoric; his opening statements are beautifully quiescent as the string players’ lines are attendant upon him. It’s been a feature of this series that Oborin’s superiority as a chamber collaborator becomes more and more evident. Granted the piano roots the trio but tonally and in terms of architecture he’s almost always wise and sure (I’d only part from the trio’s Dvořák Dumky in that respect). The variations thrive on extreme contrasts, with intensely introspective unison passages as well as more extrovert moments, supported by the "pillar" of the piano’s paragraphal statements. They scoop this up in a fluid yet convincing span and deal with the finale’s move from purposeful drama to sombre loss with equal acumen. The sound is good for the provenance.

As with all the other issues in this series I can warmly recommend the Oistrakh Trio discs; they’ve been away too long and their warmth and palpable expression will always appeal to their many admirers.

Jonathan Woolf

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] [JW]

We edge nearer a proper realisation of those previously tough to find Trio recordings. ... see Full Review

The Famous Oistrakh Trio Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Trio C major (1897 completed Maximilian Steinberg 1939) Bedřich SMETANA Trio in G minor Op.15 David Oistrakh (violin) Sviatoslav Knushevitzky (cello) Lev Oborin (piano) No recording details PREISER RECORDS 90595 [66.44] [JW]

Nobility and depth ... a real drama of the soul ... exciting, touching, grand, affecting and rapt. ... see Full Review

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