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CD: Crotchet

David Oistrakh Collection - Volume 13
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Sonata in G minor Op.1 No.10 Didone abbandonata [12:51]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Violin Sonata in A Major (1886) [27:58]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasia in C major Op.131 (1836) arranged by Fritz Kreisler [14:34]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Tzigane - Rapsodie de concert for violin and piano (1924) [9:15]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sonata for solo violin in A minor BWV 1003 - Andante (1720) [5:34]
David Oistrakh (violin)
Vladimir Yampolsky (piano)
rec. 21 January 1959, Paris and 1965, Los Angeles (Bach)
DOREMI DHR-7950 [70:19]
Experience Classicsonline

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 sonata with 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 Trill 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 quiet.

Jonathan Woolf 

Reviews of other Oistrakh Collection issues
Vol. 6 Tchaikovsky piano trio
Vol. 10 Beethoven sonatas (w/Richter)



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