David Oistrakh

Khachaturian: Violin Concerto; Taneyev: Suite de concert

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Although it is certainly possible to debate the relative merits of violinist David Oistrakh's recordings of the standard nineteenth century German concerto repertoire -- is his Beethoven concerto really the purest? Is his Mendelssohn concerto really the lightest? Is his Brahms concerto really the most lyrical? It is impossible to debate the merits of Oistrakh's recording of the twentieth century Soviet concerto repertoire for the reason that most of the best works in the repertoire were written for, dedicated to, and premiered by Oistrakh. Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Myaskovsky, and Khachaturian all composed concertos for Oistrakh and all listened to him carefully when he pointed out changes that might profitably be made to the violin part. Thus this 1954 recording of Oistrakh performing Khachaturian's Violin Concerto -- written for, dedicated to, and premieried by Oistrakh -- has a particular claim of primacy when it comes to recordings of the work. Oistrakh's muscular attack, his singing lines, his warm colors, and his impeccable technique are all as one with the work. And making the performance even more definitive, if such a thing were possible, is the conducting of Khachaturian himself who leads London's Philharmonia in a strong-willed but tender-hearted performance. Coupled with Oistrakh's 1956 recording of Taneyev's charming Suite de Concert with the inestimable Nicolai Malko leading the Philharmonia, this disc belongs on the shelf next to Oistrakh's recordings of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Myaskovsky. EMI's early stereo sound is a wee bit dim but a whole lot of warm, deep, and detailed.

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