BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77; Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A Minor; National Anthem of the USSR – David Oistrakh, violin/ Mstislav Rostropovich, cello/ Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra/ Kiril Kondrashin – BBC Legends

by | Jan 5, 2007 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77; Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A Minor, Op. 102; National Anthem of the USSR – David Oistrakh, violin/ Mstislav Rostropovich, cello/ Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra/ Kiril Kondrashin

BBC Legends BBCL-4197-2, 72:03 (Distrib. Koch)****:

Here we have three giants of the Russian school of interpretation–David Ostrakh (1908-1974), Kirill Kondrashin (1914-1981), and Mstislav Rostropovich (b . 1927)–engaged in the two epic violin concertos of Brahms. The aristocratic poise of violinist David Oistrakh had been a staple in the music of Brahms since the 1920s, when he first picked up the D Minor Sonata, Op. 108. Fond of recordings, Oistrakh knew the inscriptions of the Concerto by Kreisler (whose cadenza he adopted) and by Szigeti. Oistrakh made four commercial inscriptions of the Brahms Concerto, whose tempos he broadened with age. This performance from Royal Festival Hall, London, dates from a Moscow Philharmonic tour 19 September 1963. Kondrashin by that time had made his own repute as both a solid, independent interpreter of the European tradition, as well as a vigorously reliable accompanying conductor. Besides colossal girth and lyric eloquence, the music moves artfully between Germanic and Hungarian impulses with a facility most breath-taking. More vital than the studio recording with Klemperer–though less aware of transcendence, perhaps–the tension through the opening movement proves quite gripping, while the oboe solo and Oistrakh interweave elegantly in the Adagio. The last movement Rondo is played a mite pesant, but to thrilling effect.

The Double Concerto from Royal Albert Hall (9 October 1965) provides a concert version of a work the two soloists inscribed with conductor George Szell four years later for EMI. Kondrashin projects a sinewy, exciting orchestral fabric, deep-hued and contrapuntally volatile. Oistakh made four studio versions of this concerto also; he favored his EMI version with Pierre Fournier and conductor Alceo Galliera. The aerial virtuosity between Oistrakh and Rostropovich here in Britain waxes rhythmically pungent and lyrically poignant. Slava makes his part a lovely nocturne which the violin emulates. Deft trills in both strings and flute accompaniment lead to some thrilling pages of cross-rhythmic filigree. Decisive force into the recapitulation, with Kondrashin and his soloists driving hard to a thumping, first-movement peroration. Rostropovich leans into the march-like Vivace non troppo with deep, throaty, piercing vitality, matched by Oistrakh’s high-minded violin part. Tender mercies for the Andante, another sweet, ternary orison for a trio of performers who live only by virtue of broadcast performances and too few commercial discs.

— Gary Lemco

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