Aulos are busy reactivating
the Melodiya back catalogue with the
advantage that they have been granted
use of the original tapes. They invariably
employ DSD (Direct Stream Digital) in
remastering. So far as fiddle fanciers
go the releases have centred on Kremer
and Oistrakh, though the exciting latest
development concerns "cult"
player Yulian Sitkovetsky, the first
release of whose discs is already available
and will be reviewed by me soon.
Meanwhile you can’t
go too far wrong with Oistrakh and Mozart.
True, this is big-boned, dyed in the
wool Mozart, 1959-60 style. Tempi are
relaxed, textures quite heavy and the
ethos throughout is masculine and robust.
Lightness and subtle shading are there
– but the prevailing spirit is of strong-limbed
engagement. The G major was always one
of Oistrakh’s best pieces of Mozart
playing. Attractive and lyric he also
contributes his own, rather good, cadenzas.
There are little smudges of portamenti
in the second movement, which is characteristically
expressive and full of the artist’s
noble warmth, and a certain patrician
elegance and spirit of romance enlivens
and modifies the Rondo finale. Nothing
is hurried yet nothing sounds slack;
maybe the orchestral basses are a touch
heavy but nothing too serious.
The Sinfonia Concertante
opens at a real maestoso-qualified
Allegro. Here the pizzicati sound
rather close to the microphones and
the horn can be rather over prominent.
Directed from the viola by Barshai the
Mannheim crescendo never quite makes
its full impact and Barshai’s viola
playing can be rather too insistently
vibrated from time to time. Once again,
though, there’s real affection in the
Andante; it’s sweet rather than conversational
though ideally it could be more so.
The finale is nicely buoyant though
once again I find something of a dichotomy
in terms of tonal palette between the
two soloists; Barshai does tend to impart
a slightly tense nasality to their exchanges
As usual with this
series the notes are pretty Spartan
and mostly concern the remastering process.
Clearly there are other Mozart Oistrakh
discs from which to choose but the remastering
has been finely judged and the performances
are persuasive and warm of heart.