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Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 (1878) [34:35]
Meditation from Souvenir d'un Lieu Cher [9:32]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47 (1905) [30:41]
David Oistrakh (violin), Vladimir Yampolsky (piano), Philadelphia Orchestra / Eugene Ormandy
rec. 1961/1962 ADD
ALTO ALC1354 [75:06]

This is a classic coupling. These two concertos last came to the market differently coupled on Sony/CBS Essential Classics at mid-price. The Tchaikovsky was with the same composer's First Piano Concerto played by Gilels and the Sibelius was on another disc with the Beethoven played by Francescatti. Those discs put in an appearance in 2002-3 but the LPs from which they originate were premium products of the early 1960s. These two concerto recordings mark the hesitant rapprochement between the USSR and the USA when artists circulated on exchange visits. The present CD enters the lists at budget price.

Listening, after all these years, reminds us of an era that delivered playing that still positively hums with warmth. Oistrakh is stupendous whether in liberally dispensing voluptuous tone or in painting with the finest shadings of dynamic and tempo. His ardent virtuosity succulently informs the other strengths of his playing. The soothing Meditation from Souvenir d'un Lieu Cher at first served as the middle movement of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. This CD allows you to play what if … The Tchaikovsky Concerto, it should be noted, has a slight surface blemish at about 3:00 - 3:20 in the first movement - a distant clunk, but it's a passing detail that hardly registers. Oistrakh is scintillating and voluptuous of tone. He is partnered by a plump and affluent orchestra on its best full spectrum behaviour delivering emphatic power for Ormandy.

The Sibelius ranks perhaps a small step down from Oistrakh (Melodiya) with the Moscow RSO conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky but it’s a close-run thing. The world is rife with excellent Sibelius concertos. My own shortlist includes Haendel (EMI), Rachlin (Sony - his merits reaffirmed by his appearance at the 2015 Proms) and Efrem Zimbalist. The Oistrakh/Ormandy is, however, a sound, aristocratic and exciting older recording with plenty going for it. There are freshly written notes by the ever-reliable James Murray. These redound to the credit of this issue.

Rob Barnett

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