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.
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.
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.
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.
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.