BBC Legends – David Oistrakh [Shostakovich & Tchaikovsky]

0 of 5 stars

Violin Concerto No.2 in C sharp minor, Op.129
Violin Concerto in D, Op.35

David Oistrakh (violin)

London Symphony Orchestra
Eugene Ormandy [Bliss, Shostakovich]
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Maxim Shostakovich

Bliss and Shostakovich recorded 19 November 1967 in Royal Festival Hall, London; Tchaikovsky recorded 26 November 1972 in Royal Albert Hall, London

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: November 2009
BBCL 4267-2
Duration: 64 minutes



Now, you might have thought that Maxim Shostakovich would be conducting his father’s work, and that Eugene Ormandy would plump for the Tchaikovsky. Not a bit of it: it seems that the European premiere of the Shostakovich was hastily arranged, well after Ormandy had been engaged by the London Symphony Orchestra for a gala concert. (The opening Fanfare by Sir Arthur Bliss is splendidly stirring and Ormandy has the LSO’s brass delivering the goods!)

As Tully Potter remarks in his booklet note, Ormandy and David Oistrakh knew each other well and the conductor was an excellent accompanist. The performance is notably charged, full of tension and volatility, the gamut of emotions in the piece, the ciphers, the sorrow, the intense communication, the barbed interjections and the irony fully revealed, Oistrakh at-one with Shostakovich’s expression. A familiar recipe for this composer, it might be said, but this performance, given with wildness and eloquence, and which really bites and resonates, communicates vividly and prompts one to think again about a piece that has been overshadowed by some of the composer’s other offerings.

There are moments in the first movement of the Tchaikovsky that are rather rushed, even as if the violinist was tired of playing this piece and was trying avoid boredom; or, one can hear this account as taking wing in an exciting manner. It is certainly a suave and mercurial performance, given with brio and edge by the orchestra in the cavernous Royal Albert Hall, Maxim Shostakovich securing a detailed accompaniment and an atmospheric slow movement. The finale is the highlight, electrifying quick but poised, and tellingly contrasted, if with a few cuts that Tully Potter’s comments in the booklet would suggest finds the movement given with every repetition.

With perfectly serviceable stereo sound, this is a release worth seeking out.

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