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David Oistrakh – The Complete EMI Recordings
David Oistrakh (violin);
Various accompanists
Full tracklisting at end of review
rec. 1953-71
EMI CLASSICS 2147122 [17 CDs: 70:15 + 69:58 + 74:47 + 78:50 + 65:56 + 73:39 + 65:54 + 72:08 + 74:29 + 76:31 + 52:46 + 60:06 + 71.25 + 71:19 + 67.42 + 70:07 + 60:14] 


Experience Classicsonline

Sometimes boxed sets speak for themselves. This one for example contains seventeen CDs devoted to David Oistrakh’s complete EMI recordings – or the complete commercially released ones. If you ask leading contemporary violinists who is their ultimate player the majority will reply with Oistrakh’s name; perhaps thirty years ago they’d have said Heifetz. But there is something about Oistrakh’s playing that appeals irrespective of any notional national traditions or affiliations; its warmth, generosity of phrasing, uncanny sense of narrative unfolding, impeccable technical address, evident seriousness of purpose,  its avoidance of gestural showiness, its tonal variety – and doubtless many other things besides.

I think there’s probably a case to made that his EMI discography represents the most admirable post-War collection of recordings by a violinist in the core repertory. Of course there are many other recordings on a variety of labels – the shelves have never lacked for Oistrakh material. But Walter Legge knew his man and teamed him with a potent roster of collaborators and fortunately recorded him with his later day sonata partner Lev Oborin and also with his trio. 

For the old or newcomer I should add that most of the transfers don’t differ markedly in my sample trials to the familiar more recent ones. However the Sixten Ehrling directed brace has been digitally remastered this year as have the Kreutzer with Oborin, the Mozart K454 sonata with Yampolsky, the Karen Khachaturian sonata, Schubert Octet and the Lalo Symphonie espanole with Martinon. The Taneyev Suite de concert, Brahms Double with  Fournier and the Bruch derive from EMI’s 2006 remasterings. 

A few words about the lifetime’s pleasure you will receive if you add this inexpensive box – about £2 a disc – to your collection. The two Beethoven Triple Concertos are here; the hissier first one with his trio (Oborin and Knushevitsky) and Sargent and the one with the more indulgent slow movement made eleven years later with Richter, Rostropovich and Karajan. The Archduke Trio on the first disc is second only to the Kogan-Rostropovich-Gilels in the hierarchy of Russian recordings of the work. The second disc includes the Brahms Double with the same cellist – the Fournier is on disc six. I tend to prefer the Fournier, directed by Galliera, rather than the Rostropovich with Szell even though the former was recorded in ’56, because Oistrakh’s tone was just that bit more flexible and lighter. 

On the next two discs we can compare and contrats Oistrakh’s Beethoven concerto in the 1954 Stockholm recording with Ehrling and the 1958 Parisian one with Cluytens. The latter is the more prominent Beethovenian I suppose but it’s the former performance that by a whisker gets my vote. For one thing Oistrakh plays all of Kreisler’s elaborate second movement cadenza – he cuts it short with Cluytens. Oistrakh’s Sibelius was always masculine and rugged. The next disc is an all-sonata affair; it includes a terrific if romantic K454 with Yampolsky, a fine negotiation of the trap-laden Beethoven E flat sonata and a grand seigneurial Brahms D minor. The same composer’s concerto arrives in discs six and seven; the earlier recording with Klemperer, the later one with Szell. The two are almost identical in terms of timings – in architectural terms this was one of his most consistently realised concerti. 

The set of self-directed Berlin 1971 Mozart concertos is here of course – splendidly songful, occasionally a touch sluggish. His takes the viola part to Igor Oistrakh’s violin in K364 – grandly conceived. His Prokofiev is in a  different class and occupies disc eight. The Galliera conducted No.2 is a favourite record of mine, though No.1, recorded four years earlier, is no less impressive. His ghostly and incandescent Sonata in D is a testament to his all-round greatness as an interpreter of the composer’s music. His Lalo is spicy, the Bruch G minor intimate and expressive. He was finally satisfied by his performance of Shostakovich’s A minor concerto when he taped this recording with the composer’s son in 1972. Late though it may be his technical powers were intact; it’s a heroic performance and obviously essential listening. So too the gaudier charms of the Khachaturian which Legge cannily got the composer to conduct. This has always been a pole star recording in the discography, one referenced in any discussion of the concerto. The Taneyev has been given a new recording by Lydia Mordkovich recently. I hope it’s not ungallant to say that it simply can’t begin to compare with this one, except in terms of improved sound quality in fifty plus years. 

The Franck sonata is good, but not great – Dubois and Grumiaux are great. The Szymanowski however is assuredly a great recording. It’s coupled with some virtuoso confectionary from an album I recently reviewed which also sported Tartini’s Devil’s Trill sonata (see review). The Karen Khachaturian sonata is on disc sixteen. The Schubert K898 is the only example of the Oistrakh trio on EMI – fortunately a number of other recordings exist elsewhere to make up for this shortcoming. The Octet was perhaps slightly unusual repertoire but when one sees the names of Oistrakh’s colleagues – including that very powerful and idiomatic, unmistakable horn player Jacov Shapiro you won’t want to miss it. 

The discs are in card pockets contained in a sturdy boxed set; the biographical notes are by Tully Potter. There it is – a cornerstone collection by certainly the most admirable violinist of the third quarter of the twentieth century. 

Jonathan Woolf


CD 1 [70.15]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Triple Concerto in C, Op.56 (1804)
[1] I Allegro 17.11
[2] II Largo 4.37
[3] III Rondo alla polacca 12.58
David Oistrakh, Lev Oborin, Sviatsolav Knushevitzky
Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent
Piano Trio No. 7 in B flat Op. 97 'Archduke' (1811)
[4] I Allegro moderato 9.27
[5] II Scherzo: Allegro & Coda 6.57
[6] III Andante cantabile 12.30
[7] IV Allegro moderato – Presto 6.35
David Oistrakh, Lev Oborin, Sviatsolav Knushevitzky
CD 2 [69:58]

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Triple Concerto in C, Op.56 (1804)
[1] I Allegro 17.58
[2] II Largo 5.36
[3] III Rondo alla polacca 12.56
David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich
Berliner Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Double Concerto in A minor, Op.102 (1887)
[4] I Allegro 16.50
[5] II Andante 7.50
[6] III Vivace non troppo 8.48
David Oistrakh, Mstislav Rostropovich
Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell
CD 3 [74:47]

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.61 (1806)
[1] I Allegro, ma non troppo 24.19
[2] II Larghetto – 9.33
[3] III Rondo: Allegro 10.03
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)

Violin Concerto in D minor, Op.47 (1903-05)
[4] I Allegro moderato 15.19
[5] II Adagio di molto 8.07
[6] III Allegro, ma non tanto 7.18
David Oistrakh
Stockholm Festival Orchestra/Sixten Ehrling
CD 4 [78:50]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Violin Concerto in D, Op.61 (1806)
[1] I Allegro, ma non troppo 25.24
[2] II Larghetto – 9.44
[3] III Rondo: Allegro 10.24
David Oistrakh
Orchestre National de la Radioffusion Française/André Cluytens
Violin Sonata No.9 in A, Op.47 'Kreutzer'  (1803)
[4] I Adagio sostenuto – Presto 11.33
[5] II Andante con variazioni 2.41
[6] Variation 1 2.06
[7] Variation 2 1.46
[8] Variation 3 3.00
[9] Variation 4 5.44
[10] III Finale: Presto 6.28
David Oistrakh, Lev Oborin
CD 5 [65:56]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Violin Sonata No.32 in B flat, K.454 (1784)
[1] I Largo – Allegro 7.16
[2] II Andante 7.54
[3] III Allegretto 6.50
David Oistrakh, Vladimir Yampolsky
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Violin Sonata No.3 in E flat, Op.12 No.3 (1797-98)
[4] I Allegro con spirito 8.21
[5] II Adagio con molto espressione 7.07
[6] III Rondo: Allegro molto 4.19
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Sonata No.3 in D minor, Op.108 (1886-88)
[7] I Allegro 8.57
[8] II Adagio 5.49
[9] III Un poco presto e con sentimento 3.12
[10] IV Presto agitato 6.11
David Oistrakh, Vladimir Yampolsky
CD 6 [73:39]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.77 (1878)
[1] I Allegro non troppo 22.31
[2] II Adagio 9.47
[3] III Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace 8.25
David Oistrakh
Orchestre National de la Radioffusion Française/Otto Klemperer
Double Concerto in A minor, Op.102 (1887)
[4] I Allegro 16.13
[5] II Andante 8.16
[6] III Vivace non troppo 8.27
David Oistrakh, Pierre Fournier
Philharmonia Orchestra/Alceo Galliera
CD 7 [65:54]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Violin Concerto No.3 in G, K.216 (1775)
[1] I Allegro 9.03
[2] II Adagio 9.23
[3] III Rondeau: Allegro – Andante – Allegretto 6.42
David Oistrakh
Berliner Philharmoniker
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.77 (1878)
[4] I Allegro non troppo 22.35
[5] II Adagio 9.38
[6] III Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace 8.33
David Oistrakh
Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell
CD 8 [72:08]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)

Violin Concerto No.1 in D, Op.19 (1916-17)
[1] I Andantino 9.43
[2] II Scherzo: Vivaccissimo 3.47
[3] III Moderato 7.43
David Oistrakh
London Symphony Orchestra/Lovro von Matacic
Violin Concerto No.2 Op.63 (1935)
[4] I Allegro moderato 10.55
[5] II Andante assai 10.20
[6] III Allegro, ben moderato 6.18
David Oistrakh
Philharmonia Orchestra/Alceo Galliera
Violin Sonata No.2 in D, Op.94 (1944)
[7] I Moderato 7.37
[8] II Presto 4.40
[9] III Andante 3.49
[10] IV Allegro con brio 7.16
David Oistrakh, Vladimir Yampolsky
CD 9 [74.29]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Violin Concerto No.1 in B flat, K.207 (1775)
[1] I Allegro moderato 7.58
[2] II Adagio 8.34
[3] III Presto 5.51
David Oistrakh
Berliner Philharmoniker/David Oistrakh
Violin Concerto No.2 in D, K.211 (1775)
[4] I Allegro moderato 8.10
[5] II Andante 7.47
[6] III Rondeau: Allegro 4.48
David Oistrakh
Berliner Philharmoniker/David Oistrakh
Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K.364 (1779)
[7] I Allegro maestoso 13.19
[8] II Andante 11.52
[9] III Presto 6.10
Igor Oistrakh (violin), David Oistrakh (viola)
Berliner Philharmoniker/David Oistrakh
CD 10 [76.31]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Violin Concerto No.4 in D, K.218 (1775)
[1] I Allegro 9.19
[2] II Andante cantabile 7.56
[3] III Rondeau: Andante grazioso – Allegro, ma non troppo 7.55
Violin Concerto No.5 in A, 'Turkish' K.219 (1775)
[4] I Allegro aperto 9.39
[5] II Adagio 11.11
[6] III Rondeau: Tempo di menuetto – Allegro 9.34
David Oistrakh
Berliner Philharmoniker
Adagio in E, K.261 (1776)
Rondo Concertante in B flat, K.269
Mozart: Rondo in C, K.373
David Oistrakh
Berliner Philharmoniker
CD 11 [52:46]

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.3 in G, K.216 (1775)
[1] I Allegro 8.52
[2] II Adagio 8.36
[3] III Rondeau: Allegro – Andante – Allegretto 6.30
David Oistrakh
Philharmonia Orchestra/David Oistrakh
Concertone in C, K.190 (1774)
[4] I Allegro spiritoso 8.45
[5] II Andantino grazioso 10.49
[6] III Tempo di Menuetto: Vivace 9.14
Igor Oistrakh, David Oistrakh
Berliner Philharmoniker/David Oistrakh
CD 12 [60:06]
Edouard LALO (1823-1892)
Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21 (1874)
[1] I Allegro non troppo 8.33
[2] II Scherando: Allegro molto – Poco più lento – Tempo I 4.40
[3] III Intermezzo: Allegretto non troppo 6.08
[4] IV Andante 7.33
[5] V Rondo: Allegro – Poco più lento – Tempo I 8.42
David Oistrakh
Philharmonia Orchestra/Jean Martinon
Max BRUCH (1838-1920)

Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op.26 (1868)
[6] I Vorspiel: Allegro moderato 8.34
[7] II Adagio 8.40
[8] III Finale: Allegro energico 7.16
David Oistrakh
London Symphony Orchestra/Lovro von Matacic
CD 13 [71:25]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)

Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.99 (1947-48)
[1] I Nocturne: Moderato 11.16
[2] II Scherzo: Allegro 6.34
[3] III Passacaglia: Andante – Cadenza 12.58
[4] IV Burlesque: Allegro con brio 5.02
David Oistrakh
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Maxim Shostakovich
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Violin Concerto in D minor (1940)
[5] I Allegro con fermezza – Cadenza by D. Oistrakh 14.08
[6] II Andante sostenuto 12.03
[7] III Allegro vivace 9.24
David Oistrakh
Philharmonia Orchestra/Aram Khachaturian
CD 14 [71:19]
Sergei TANEYEV (1856-1915)
Suite de Concert, Op.28 (1909)
[1] I Praeludium: Grave 7.16
[2] II Gavotte: Allegro moderato 5.41
[3] III Märchen: Andantino 8.19
[4] IV Tema con variazione 14.52
[5] V Tarantella: Presto 6.32
David Oistrakh
Philharmonia Orchestra/Nicolai Malko
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Violin Sonata in A (1886)
[6] I Allegretto ben moderato
[7] II Allegro
[8] III Recitativo – Fantasia
[9] IV Allegretto poco mosso 28.39
David Oistrakh, Vladimir Yampolsky
Total approximate duration
CD 15 [67:42]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Violin Sonata in D minor Op. 9 (1904)
[1] I Allegro moderato 9.59
[2] II Andantino tranquillo e dolce 6.34
[3] III Allegro molto quasi presto 5.31
David Oistrakh, Vladimir Yampolsky
Josef SUK (1874-1935)
Píseň lásky Op.7/1 (1897) arranged Jaroslav Kocian (1891-93) [6.07]  
Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967)
Three Hungarian folk dances (1906) arranged Grigory Feigin [4:19]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880) arranged August Wilhelmj
Légende Op. 17 (1864) [7:27]  
Aleksander ZARZYCKI (1834-1895)
Mazurka in G Op 26 [4:46]  
Vladimir Yampolsky

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Suite bergamasque - Clair de lune (1890 revised 1905) [4:40]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Canciones populares españolas No. 4 Jota arranged Paul Kochanski (1914) [2:59]

Valse-scherzo Op.34 transcribed Bezekirsky (1877) [5:31]
Eugène YSAŸE (1858-1931)
Extase Op.21 [9:49]  
David Oistrakh, Vladimir Yampolsky
CD 16 [70:07]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Piano Trio No.1 in B flat, D.898 (1828)
[1] I Allegro moderato 10.47
[2] II Andante un poco mosso 10.41
[3] III Scherzo: Allegro & Trio 6.48
[4] IV Rondo: Allegro viviace – Presto 8.29
David Oistrakh, Lev Oborin, Sviatsolav Knushevitzky
Karen KHACHATURIAN (b.1920)

Violin Sonata, Op.1 (1947)
[5] I Allegro – Meno mosso 7.16
[6] II Andante 6.39
[7] III Presto – Andantino – Tempo I – Più mosso 5.40
David Oistrakh, Vladimir Yampolsky
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin sonata in G minor Op.1 No.6 Devil’s Trill arr. Kreisler
[8] I Larghetto affetuoso 2.49
[9] II Allegro: Tempo giusto della scuole tartinista 2.52
[10] III Andante – Allegro 5.12
[11] IV Cadenza: Adagio 2.54
David Oistrakh, Vladimir Yampolsky
Total approximate duration
CD 17 [60:14]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Octet in F, D.803 (1824)
[1] I Adagio – Allegro 12.01
[2] II Andante un poco mosso 12.37
[3] III Scherzo: Allegro vivace & Trio 6.02
[4] IV Andante – Variations 1-7 12.21
[5] V Minuet: Allegretto & Trio – Coda 7.34
[6] VI Andante molto – Allagro – Andante moto– Allegro molto 9.39
David Oistrakh, Peter Bondarenko, Mikhail Terian, Sviatoslav Knushevitzky,
Vladimir Sorokin, Joseph Gertovich, Joseph Stidel, Jacov Shapiro



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