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David Oistrakh
CD 1
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Trio in G minor Op.8 (1829) [26:36]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Trio for piano, violin and cello in A Minor (1914) [25:57]
CD 2
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 90 Dumky* (1891) [33:17]
Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)
Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15 B104 (1855) [29:14]
David Oistrakh (violin); Sviatoslav Knushevitzky (cello); Lev Oborin (piano)
rec. undated [1950 (Smetana and Chopin), 1952 (Ravel); c 1950 Dvořák]
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4778537 [52:43 + 62:43] 
Experience Classicsonline

The violinist takes top billing but that’s a commercial not an artistic judgement because the trio that made these recordings was, if not quite one of equals, then of truly formidable individual and collective strengths. These recordings have long stood the test of time and their reappearance here in a slimline double is to be welcomed, though other incarnations have appeared over the years and collectors may baulk at acquiring them in their new guise for this reason. 

There’s excellent tonal interplay in the Chopin trio, where Oistrakh is at his most candidly warm and effusive. The textual problems are undercut by virtue of deft timbral interplay, witty characterisation and fulsome expressive breadth in the slow movement. Oborin proves a lynchpin with his acutely sprung playing and note especially the unforced eloquence of his opening statements in the finale. This is played with buoyant rhythmic thrust. The Ravel is a performance I always admire, though there are times when I do find it just a touch too heavy. They do manage to lighten their tones, without question, and they do play with superior elegance and freshness. Textures remain translucent, with Knushevitzky especially effective in projecting a soft-grained tone in the Passacaille. Earlier in the Pantoum second movement we find that articulation is crisp and exciting. 

The Czech duo represents, I think, the better known pairing as far as these performances go. Oistrakh was a wonderful exponent of the Dvořák concerto, which he performed often, so it’s no surprise to find that he and the other members of the trio dig into the driving animation and interior introspection of the Dumky trio with such assurance.  Half the Russian violin school – so called – is Czech in origin in any case, so it’s not such a leap.  Smetana’s Op.15 trio receives an equally assured reading with a captivating depth of tone and rock solid ensemble virtues. 

The transfers are clearer and a little chillier, at least in comparison with, say, Preiser’s transfers which can sound a touch warmer, but also contain a degree of surface noise and some LP crackle. The more ‘present’ DG transfers are, I think, preferable. 

The notes are silent on the subject of dating, locations and original release numbers, which is skimpy and unnecessary. The performances however sweep aside all objections. 

Jonathan Woolf


































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