9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Definitive recording of the Violin Concerto,
This review is from: Hindemith: Mathis Der Maler / Violin Concertos / Metamorphoses on Themes of Weber (Audio CD)Unless you're already interested in Hindemith and his music you won't even come across this review, in which case you probably already know that this is not the greatest recording of either 'Mathis der Maler' or the 'Symphonic Metamorphoses' - these are merely Decca using back-catalogue fillers to the main event, the definitive recording of the Violin Concerto with Hindemith conducting, performed by David Oistrakh.
If you have never come across David Oistrakh before, prepare for the most sublime experience of listening disbelief. A great international ambassador for peace and culture, rising above his use as propaganda by the Soviet authorities in the 1950s and 1960s, he was a supreme artist with a flawless technique and incomparable tone. Many of his recordings of the great violin repertoire are acknowledged references (especially Brahms, Sibelius, Beethoven, Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, Khatchaturian...) and are well worth hunting out by both the collector and the general listener, neither of whom will be disappointed. In these days of mass-marketed 'super-artists', most of whom are merely gloss and hype (and pretty face) rather than truly talented, it is easy to forget that towering giants like these existed, and that they were such stylistic individuals, as it often takes merely a few seconds to recognise their distinctive voice and tone quality. We are only fortunate that recordings like this can preserve some memory of the great interpreters of the past as beacons of true inspiration in the present sea of anodyne homogenity.
Enough of the lecture and pedigree - Oistrakh is superlative, Hindemith was a great conductor and interpeter of his own music with a good understanding of the violin (he was an excellent viola player - no joke!) so if you don't know this work, don't hesitate to listen. It is unjustly neglected and extremely fine. If you don't know the amazing 'Mathis' symphony or the 'Metamorphoses' then enjoy, but use this as a springboard to find more definitive recordings (Blomstedt/SFSO/Decca 421-523-2) and to explore the rest of Hindemith's wonderful concerto and symphonic oevre. What are you waiting for?
The last word must go to the 'Gramophone' review: "Consistently spectacular 1960s Decca sound adds allure to the merely proficient performances on offer here. What makes this medium-price disc indispensable is the 30-minute Violin Concerto with Oistrakh at his legendary best and the composer conducting. The late Deryck Cooke, in his original 'Gramophone' review, wrote of Oistrakh as 'superbly poised and eloquent ... and as performed here the Concerto shows that behind Hindemith's stony neo-classical facade beats a romantic German heart.' Listening to this recording it's hard to understand the concerto's relative neglect - strange indeed are the tides of fashion - but easy to imagine current star violinists finding Oistrakh's an impossible act to follow. The 1962 sound gives Oistrakh a discreet dominance, and the engineers flatten out the slow movement's central climax, but thankfully no other allowances need be made for this preservation of a classic recording."
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Initial post: 22 May 2011 18:55:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 May 2011 18:57:13 BDT
Nice review! This is wonderful music and Oistrakh's concerto is truly great music making. I disagree, though, on Blomstedt's being the definitive versions of the Mathis symphony and the Symphonic Metamorphoses. In the latter, I think Abbado (i.e. the version recorded here) is just as good as Blomstedt and in both I personally prefer Sawallisch.
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