on 28 August 2005
We haven't been exactly short on releases by the great David Oistrakh, whether in the LP days or on CD. The trouble was that his recorded legacy - one of the most extensive in history by any violinist - has been made accessible through a multitude of labels, often in a haphazard fashion, and even more often for a very short time. The arrival of this new 10 CD-box has to be saluted for its effort to group a splendid selection of live recordings by Oistrakh made in the USSR between 1939 and 1968 with the Moscow Philharmonic, the Leningrad Philharmonic and the USSR Radio Symphony Orchestra, with some of the foremost conductors of the day (Alexander Gauk, Kirill Kondrashin, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Kurt Sanderling).
Undoubtedly, collectors will already have the majority of the recordings presented here (although a lot is no longer available), but this box covers all the great concertos and as a survey of the art of "King David" it is presently unbeatable.
The sound quality is variable, of course, but totally acceptable regarding the age of some of the documents.
on 2 May 2009
Taken from live Russian performances - mainly of reasonable quality in spite of their age, this is a wonderful picture of probably the century's greatest violinist. Some of the performances surpass the more famous western recordings he made, and some concerto performances are just not available elsewhere - such as the Mendelssohn concerto. A must for any serious student of violinists.
on 9 November 2008
Most of recordings in this set come from now deleted Russia Revelation & Russian Disc original release. As far as my ears can detect, there is no difference in sound quality from the original. All performances included here display Oistrakh's incredibly focussed & rich tones no other violinists can create. With this budget price, it is irresistable!
My first acquaintance with David Oistrakh, 1908-74, was through his recording on the Brahms’ concerto with the Saxon State Orchestra under Franz Konwitschny, 1901-62. This 10-CD boxed set contains performances recorded between 1939-68 from Russian archives and issued, at budget price, by Brilliant Classics.
Oistrakh plays the Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos, other less commonly heard works from the classical repertoire [Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, Chausson’s Poeme, Ravel’s Tzigane, Bartók’s First Violin Concerto, Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, Hindemith’s Violin Concerto and Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto].
Perhaps most interesting are concertos by Russian composers – Shostakovich , Kabalevsky, Prokofiev’s First Concerto, Glazunov and Miaskovsky, as well as Taneyev’s Concert Suite and Glazunov’s Mazurka-Oberek. The two concertos by Shostakovich, the second of which was a 60th birthday present from the composer, and those by Miaskovsky and Kabalevsky were all given their debut by Oistrakh.
The Miaskovsky performance, conducted by Alexander Gauk, included here is its 1939 debut and, whilst this has significant historical value, its sound rules it out as anything other than a recording for Olistrakh devotees, of whom there are many.
The set gives an excellent idea of the eminence and technical virtuosity of perhaps the greatest Soviet violinist – many would say the greatest violinist of the 20th century. The orchestral accompaniment varies, with Russian orchestras conducted by such well-known artists as Kondrashin, Rozhdestvensky, Sanderling and Mravinsky, as well as Carl Eliasberg and Gabil Yudin. However, a combination of the sound, balance and performances characteristics means that few of these performances would be at the top of most listener’s preference lists. Against this, however, is the historical documentation and the cost.
The leaflet note, briefly describing the artist’s life and the works, is by David Doughty. The sound is variable with, as in the First Shostakovich Concerto, the violin being too forward. The audience is only occasionally evident, as in the Bruch.
My own preferences would be the Shostakovich performances, Lalo, especially the blowsy Kabalevsky and the commanding partnership between Oistrakh and Kondrashin in the Prokofiev, Glazunov, Taneyev, Stravinsky, the brassy Khachaturian and the melancholic Miaskovsky.