There’s a plethora of live Oistrakh at the moment, from
a variety of sources. Meanwhile Doremi ploughs on with its own
series, dedicated to studio and live
material, of which this is the thirteenth volume. The bulk derives from a Paris
concert given in January 1959 and the recital, with Vladimir Yampolsky, wears
a decidedly lived-in mien, though none the less welcome for all that.
Oistrakh was later to record the Tartini Didone abbandonata
Frida Bauer in 1970 so this makes this earlier incarnation valuable evidence
of his way with it in the late 1950s. Admirers of his way with the Devil’s
will doubtless expect similar virtues and they won’t be disappointed.
This is typically robust, masculine playing, richly voiced and with a great lyric
cantilena to the tremendous melody that lies at the heart of the opening Adagio
Verve and cutting power are hardly stinted either and fortunately he takes the
concluding Allegro commodo
at a good, not over fast tempo, but he does
vest it with real wit and a sense of elevation. Above all he takes the sonata
seriously but not gravely. The performance is back announced.
In a sense we know what we’re getting with his Franck, as a performance
with Yampolsky already exists in the discography, as do others with Richter and
Oborin. Richness and strength of tone are paramount and Yampolsky copes with
the unnerving piano part well, surviving a few unsettled moments at the start
of the finale. I thought he was beginning to tire but he recovers well. I’m
not aware that Oistrakh left behind a commercial performance of the Kreisler-arranged
Schumann Fantasia so surviving documents such as this are all the more welcome.
It’s a difficult work to project in this form and a relatively extensive
examination of the violinist’s romantic and poetic instincts. Oistrakh,
not especially known for floating his tone, plays with occasionally fervid commitment
and rapt phrasing. Having given the French audience some Franck, Oistrakh and
Yampolsky end with Ravel’s Tzigane
, a work he’d recorded in
orchestral garb with Kondrashin in 1948 and Rozhdesvensky; there’s also
a live 1957 Yampolsky performance around. Oistrakh keeps a just balance between
the over-heated and the more classical approach, and the result is powerful but
not over cooked. Unlike some contemporary players he doesn’t impose fake
rubati on the opening statements.
The final item is the Andante from Bach’s A minor solo sonata, but this
was given in Los Angeles in 1965, not in Paris. Rather like Rostropovich Oistrakh
seems to have been reluctant to record the solo string works. No complete Oistrakh
set exists, and, unlike his cello colleague, he didn’t live long enough
to be persuaded to record one late in life. He seems to have favoured the Sonata
in G. This last item is self announced; the tape has a hum and is a touch rough.
The Paris tape is in reasonable sound for the vintage. The audience is relatively
Reviews of other Oistrakh Collection
Vol. 6 Tchaikovsky piano trio
Beethoven sonatas (w/Richter)