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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.3 in G major K216 (1775) [23.14]
Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major K364 (1779) * [30.41]
David Oistrakh (violin)
Rudolf Barshai (viola)*
Moscow Chamber Orchestra/Rudolf Barshai
Recorded in Moscow 1959 (No.3) and 1960
AULOS MUSIC AMC2-028 [54.41]


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 and dialogue.

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.

Jonathan Woolf

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