David Oistrakh

Prokofiev: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Violin Sonata No. 2

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Prokofiev: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Violin Sonata No. 2 Review

by James Leonard

While it is true that violinist David Oistrakh made earlier recordings of Prokofiev's Violin Concertos in the USSR, for most Westerners his '50s recordings of the works made in London were their first introduction to Oistrakh's Prokofiev Concertos. And what an introduction it is: although there had been superb recordings of the Concertos before Oistrakh -- one thinks immediately of the exquisite Heifetz/Barbirolli recordings -- these recordings are far and away the most soulful, the most lyrical, the most heartfelt, and certainly the most persuasive recordings of the works that had ever been recorded. And half a century later, Oistrakh's Prokofiev Concertos are still the most persuasive recordings ever made. Oistrakh's strong, singing tone, his incomparable virtuosity, his thorough understanding of the music, and his ability to make every note carry the full weight of meaning has yet to be surpassed despite decades of superb performances. Coupling Oistrakh's Concertos with Oistrakh's wonderfully expansive and thoroughly concentrated 1956 recording of Prokofiev's glorious Violin Sonata No. 2 only makes this reissue more appealing. And EMI's remastered mono and stereo sound is almost as rich and warm and clear as the best recordings made in the past half century.

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