BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D Major /MOZART: Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for Violin, Viola and Orchestra – Yehudi Menuhin, violin and conductor (Mozart)/ David Oistrakh, viola and conductor (Beethoven/Mozart)/ Igor Oistrakh, violin – BBC Legends

by | Oct 26, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61/MOZART: Sinfonia
Concertante in E-flat for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, K. 364 – Yehudi
Menuhin, violin and conductor (Mozart)/ David Oistrakh, viola and
conductor (Beethoven/Mozart)/ Igor Oistrakh, violin (Mozart)/ Moscow
Philharmonic Orchestra

BBC Legends  BBCL 4019-2,  77:09 (Distrib. Koch) ****:

This disc preserves for posterity a remarkable moment in music: the
concert of Saturday, 28 September 1963, when the Moscow Philharmonic,
without its visiting conductor Kirill Kondrashin, enjoyed the
instrumental and conducting talents of three string virtuosos in happy
ensemble. David Oistrakh (1908-1974), himself a fine exponent of the
Beethoven Violin Concerto, leads the orchestral part for Yehudi Menuhin
(1916-1999), whose technique and tone are still remarkably intact for
the grueling half-steps and elastic lines demanded by Beethoven. The
emotional tenor of the performance is on an exalted plane, the violin’s
weaving subtle nuances even amidst the ostinato drum beats and purring
bassoons in the more contemplative passages. The scale of the
performance is big, with wide arcs mapped out by Oistrakh, but the
emphasis remains on the lyric rather than on the Dionysiac side of
Beethoven. Both Menuhin and Oistrakh were always partial to the
Kreisler cadenzas for the Beethoven Concerto, and Menuhin briskly
shines in those, as he does in the G Major Larghetto. The tender
affection between musicians is apparent in every bar of music, and
their comradeship conveys itself even to the relatively large forces of
the Moscow Philharmonic.

For the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, Menuhin bears the baton while
father and son Oistrakh collaborate in the instrumental parts. David’s
darkly burnished viola tone makes a perfect foil to Igor’s brightly lit
violin tone, which descends out of the musical ether for its entry in
the Allegro maestoso. The plastic interweaving lines balance Mozart’s
facile gaiety with the most profound structural and harmonic agility.
Igor Oistrakh has perhaps been consistently underrated by critics, but
I found his interpretation of the Prokofiev D Major Concerto with
Rozhdestvensky (on Music & Arts) devastating; and he is one of the
few musicians to give a hearing to Liszt’s rarely played Epithalamion
for violin and piano. By the time the Oistrakhs and Menuhin conclude
the Presto movement of the Mozart, the audience is clearly ready to
explode in raptures. And why not? The musical verve, intensity, and
maturity of conception had been immaculate all evening.

–Gary Lemco

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