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PIOTR TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-93) Violin Concerto (1878) JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concerto (1905); Two Humoresques Op. 87 (1917). David Oistrakh (violin) Moscow PO/Rozhdestvensky rec 27 Sept 1968 USSR Radio Large SO/Rozhdestvensky rec 1965 Recordings made at Grand Hall, Moscow Conservatoire David Oistrakh Edition Vol. 1.BMG-Melodiya 74321 34178 2 [71:54]


Now re-released on the Melodiya label £12.00 post-free Purchase here


Ardent fantasy and virtuosity totally at the service of freshly imagined and made-anew performances of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius Concertos by Oistrakh. Do not miss them amongst the synthetic bombardment of multi-take virtuosity and promotional hype of eugenically acceptable stars.

Until hearing this, my Tchaikovsky of choice was the EMI Kogan/Paris Conservatoire recording. This now takes pride of place. The recording sounds like the very best BBC Radio 3 live concert broadcast. Oistrakh is centre stage of course but not as far forward as Heifetz during his RCA years. He has and uses everything. There is everything from a hoarse whispering tone full of promise and threat. The broad melodies are played with a dense richness of tone and colour. His dynamics range from the slightest murmur to the full volume to be conjured from bow against violin string. Passion boils over, playful spiccato skips, climactic display, ardently amorous melodies are coaxed, driven and sent spinning and dancing. Rozhdestvensky and Oistrakh are like two dolphins swooping and turning at speed in front of the bow-wave of the music somehow driving it on to new heights of poetry and drama. This is a live concert performance with an audience making itself known by the occasional cough. Do not be put off by this. The performances smashes away all reservations. It is fashionable to say that such performances will not supplant someone's pet studio recording and that they should be kept as a complement to the studio artefact. This disc is one which can happily be taken as the only Tchaikovsky violin concerto recording you need and can be used as a reference against which other issues are measured.

The Sibelius is given with equal burning insight, restraint and vivid colouring. Listen to the hushed opening to get some impression of the sympathetic dedication of all involved. And when Oistrakh sings at the top of his voilin's voice at 3:40 we know that there is nothing of the sound-bite or pre-heated about this music-making. Detail after detail float and glitter in front of us.

Am I the only one to regret that Oistrakh never recorded the other four Humoresques?

Notes are by Dr Sigrid Neef and are a valuable complement to the music.

A glorious issue which is a compulsory purchase.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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