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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Triple Concerto in C Op.56  (1804) [34:47] ¹
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.3 in G K216 (1775) [23:51] º
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Double Concerto in A minor Op.102 (1887) [32:56] ² ³
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1981-1953)
Violin Concerto No.2 in G minor Op.63 (1935) [27:42] ³
David Oistrakh (violin)
Sviatoslav Knushevitzky (cello) ¹
Pierre Fournier (cello) ²
Lev Oborin (piano) ¹
Philharmonia Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent ¹
Philharmonia Orchestra/David Oistrakh º
Philharmonia Orchestra/Alceo Galliera ³
rec. No.1 Studio Abbey Road, London, May 1958; Kingsway Hall, London, 1956. ADD
EMI CLASSICS 3 81487 2 [58:53 + 60:46]

 


Some discs tend to review themselves and you know that this is one of them. Or rather two of them. This is the latest repackaging, a slimline double, of some classic Oistrakh performances from 1956 and 1958. His trio appears in the famous recording of the Beethoven Triple; we have his self-directed Philharmonia Mozart K216; the Brahms Double with Fournier; and finally the Prokofiev No.2. Galliera and Sargent are the conductors in addition to Oistrakh himself in the Mozart.

Compilation in this way offers further opportunities to exploit the legacy – I’m not using the word necessarily in a pejorative sense – but it means that there will be few collectors who haven’t already heard or collected these individual performances. The Triple and Double were well established as an EMI pairing and doubtless, if you’re an Oistrakh fancier, you will have the company’s previous incarnation and will be rather wondering why they bothered to add two such disparate concertos as the Prokofiev and K216. You’ll have those as well – though you may also have Oistrakh’s other recordings of K216. My early immersion in his Prokofiev led me to believe that No.2 was “his” concerto – much in the same way that discographically Heifetz had earlier “owned” No.1 and Szigeti No.1. I was quite wrong; Oistrakh left behind more recordings of the first than the second concerto. Incidentally when is the BBC going to release commercially Robert Soetens’s 1936 broadcast performance of the Second Prokofiev with Sir Henry Wood conducting?

The Triple Concerto sees Oistrakh with Sviatoslav Knushevitzky and Lev Oborin; their partnership was the most prestigious in Russian music until the emergence of Kogan-Rostropovich-Gilels trio. Though the violinist and Knushevitzky recorded the Brahms Double, EMI’s recording teamed him with the elegant Fournier for this classic recording. Reviewing a disc of this work by a young pairing - sensitive, slightly whimsical, accommodating – made me realise how deeply I missed the masculinity of this recording. The Mozart is notable - putting the big-boned violin playing to one side for the moment - for the patrician contributions of the Philharmonia wind principals. That early Prokofiev imprinting also regrettably stamped Oistrakh’s second movement tempo on my subconscious metronome. Any faster and I get itchy – but that’s the way with first loves.

The recordings necessarily include varying intensities of high-level hiss. Otherwise the transfers sound no different from any other from the EMI stable. If you’ve read this far perhaps it means that you have yet to acquire one or two of these classic recordings. You’ll never regret doing so.

Jonathan Woolf

 


 


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