Lydia Mordkovitch pays tribute to David Oistrakh
Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764) Sonata in F minor, Op. 6 No. 7 'Au tombeau' (arr. Eugène Ysaÿe) [15:16]; Caprice No. 23 'Il labirinto armonico' from L'arte del violino: XXI concerti… con XXIV capricci ad libitum, Op. 3 for solo violin [3:21]
Eugene YSAYE (1858-1931) Sonata, Op. 27 No. 2 (I Obsession. Prelude [2:50]; II Malinconia [3:26]; III Danse des ombres. Sarabande [5:12]; IV Les Furies [2:55]) (ded. Jacques Thibaud) [14:26]
Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Poème, Op. 25 (arranged for violin and piano) [14:17]
Dimitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 134 [29:40]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) Daisies ('Margaritki') No. 3 from Six Songs, Op. 38 (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [2:42]
Lydia Mordkovitch (violin)
Nicholas Walker (piano) (Locatelli); Marina Gusak-Grin (piano) (Chausson); Clifford Benson (piano) (Shostakovich); James Kirby (piano) (Rachmaninoff)
rec. The Maltings, Snape, Suffolk, 26-27 January 1986 (Sonata No. 2), 12-14 February 1989 (Poème), 11 December 1990 (Violin Sonata). Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, 17-19 February 2002 ('Daisies'); 3-4 October 2008 (Sonata, Op. 6 No. 7, Caprice No. 23)
These four works for violin and piano and two for violin alone pay apt and heartfelt obeisance to one of the world’s great violinists, the Odessa-born David Oistrakh.
This is said to be a modest tribute – perhaps as modest as the unassuming Oistrakh himself. It’s certainly not ungenerous in timing or in artistic worth and it’s at mid-price. The emissary’s tribute is very much in the sound tradition established by Oistrakh. Mordkovitch was after all Oistrakh’s student at the Moscow Conservatory during her twenties. There are, by the way, two atmospheric and informal monochrome plates showing Oistrakh and his pupil. She plays superbly throughout with magnificent generosity of tone, texture and colour. Has Mordkovitch ever played as well, I wonder? She has made many outstanding recordings not least for Chandos, a label that has become her home. The playing here communicates with a grip that implies something more than mere inspiration. That said this sequence of recordings made between 1996 and 2008 was not made specifically as an Oistrakh tribute yet perhaps in this repertoire it cannot be played by her without catching the echoes of so many hours working with this great artist.
Mordkovitch’s violin and bow produce a sound that equates with a bonfire that while burning intensely does not consume the fuel that sustains it. A warming romantic legato flows and flows in a legato lava stream. Ysaye’s Locatelli is more Ysaye than Locatelli and no harm in that. It is burnished and golden. Amazing how often it recalls the Sibelius concerto – itself a work recorded with moving mastery by Oistrakh. The Thibaud-dedicated Ysaye solo sonata in four movements adds to the dazzling Paganinian glossary an emotional freight and harmonic succulence. Mordkovitch reminds us what a great violinist she is in trouncing the turbo-acrobatics while voicing the musicality. And the Sonata is by no means all hoarse rhetorical display but when it does move into that region Mordkovitch lets you know. After the insistent breathless flood that is Les Furies comes the ecstatic long-breathed continuum of song that is the Chausson Poème. The Second Violin Sonata by Shostakovich provides further facets to this Oistrakh memorial. No punches are pulled in its hallmarks of acrid passion, satirical grotesquerie, cordite-choking violence and rhetorical determination. The playing is no simulacrum of Oistrakh but certainly extends a handsome and life-imbued homage which serves both as memorial and as a delightfully potent experience in its own right. That it ends with the innocently bobbing Daises serves to round out the experience with a gentle sough. Something special.

Rob Barnett
A delightfully potent experience.