David Oistrakh

Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35; Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50

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Despite its apparent age, David Oistrakh's 1954 performance of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major sounds remarkably fresh and full in this digital remastering by Archipel, and listeners who usually avoid historic recordings because of their limited audio quality really should give this superb reissue a chance. Oistrakh was the most important violinist from the Soviet Union during the middle decades of the 20th century, and his performances of the great concertos made him an international star. This amazing rendition of Tchaikovsky's only violin concerto with Franz Konwitschny and the Dresden Staatskapelle is focused and transparent, so the violin is always front and center, even when the orchestral accompaniment is dense and a little bass heavy. Because the violin part is both spectacular for its technical challenges and beautiful for its expressive lyricism, listeners are treated to both sides of Oistrakh's virtuoso playing, and since he excelled in each capacity, this is one of the most satisfying recordings of the piece one could hope to hear. A different aspect of Oistrakh is presented in the 1948 recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor with cellist Sviatoslav Knushevitsky and pianist Lev Oborin, because a more conversational tone emerges from his playing in this chamber setting. However, the fairly compressed audio is less enjoyable than the concerto's wide-open reproduction, so listeners should give this recording a closer hearing for its musical merits, rather than for its sound.

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