Oscar Shumsky

Bach: The Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin

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Born in the United States to Russian parents and having studied with some of the greatest violin pedagogues to have ever existed (Auer and Zimbalist), Oscar Shumsky never quite achieved the same level of fame and recognition during his lifetime as some of his contemporaries. Nimbus Records' reissue of some of Shumsky's seminal recordings is allowing modern listeners to reexamine Shumsky's playing and to appreciate it anew. This two-disc set features the complete solo sonatas and partitas of J.S. Bach was originally released in 1979 when Shumsky was already a mature, seasoned 62-year-old man. Shumsky was widely admired for his lush sound quality and this set of recordings is no exception. Throughout, Shumsky's tone is powerful, deep even in the highest registers, and resonant; Nimbus' remastering perfectly captures all of the intensity and passion in Shumsky's playing, right down to the occasional deep breath. No specific information is given on the recording dates or venues, but there is a noticeable but not distressing change in sound between the various sonatas and partitas. Like the much revered Bach recordings of Nathan Milstein, Shumsky's Bach is certainly a more "Romantic" interpretation. While Milstein may excel at the stylistic, interpretive nuance, Shumsky's Bach is much more technically polished with a much warmer sound. For listeners who are just discovering Shumsky or who enjoy this sort of forceful Bach playing, this recording is sure to please.