Oistrakh/BPO: Mozart Violin Concerto K. 219 + Adagio K. 261, etc. - EMI 1C 065-02 325
Jacket VG (3" split to top edge; esle NM)
On offer here is one volume in David Oistrakh’s mangificent survey of Mozart's oeuvre for violin and orchestra, with the legendary Russian virtuoso directing the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from the violin – truly fine performances.
Note: All sessions were held in the warm acoustics of the Zehlendorfer Community Center, Berlin (producers: Ronald Kinloch Anderson and David Motley / engineer: Wolfgang Gülich).
The contents are as follows:
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major K. 219 (cadenzas by J. Joachim) – rec. Nov. 1970
Rondo for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in C Major K. 373 (cadenza by D. Oistrakh) – rec. Sept. 1971
Adagio for Violin and Orchestra in E Major K. 261 (cadenza by D. Oistrakh) – rec. Sept. 1971
Rondo for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in B-flat Major K. 269 (cadenza by D. Oistrakh) – rec. Sept. 1971
Of note for collectors: This are the only surviving performance of Oistrakh in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Major K. 211.
Oistrakh brings a lifetime's wisdom and experience to these readings and the Berliners respond with radiant assurance – even by Oistrakh's exalted standards, these are very special performances, and superbly recorded, too.
Wrote the superb critic Dan Davis for ClasicsToday: “There are plenty of available versions of the Mozart Violin Concertos, but few that can match the recordings David Oistrakh made in Berlin back in 1971. His big, juicy tone is irresistible, as is his flowing legato line and the intensity with which he elevates what sometimes (in unsympathetic performances) can seem like mere juvenilia. The first two of Mozart's concertos for solo violin do display less variety and depth than the later ones, but the 19-year-old was a fast learner, writing all five of them within eight months in 1775.
“The early concertos are fetching works, but by the Third we're in different territory: orchestration is more varied and interesting, the violin part more brilliant, and, as Alfred Einstein wrote, "... there is an Adagio that seems to have fallen straight from heaven." That's how Oistrakh plays it, too, spinning gorgeously tinted, lovingly caressed lines, eliciting an other-worldly orchestral entrance at its start. Here as elsewhere, his playing is alive with subtle rubatos that always seem to intensify the music without breaking the line. Listening to playing at this exalted level, you're always wondering, "how in the world did he do that?"
“The brief but strikingly beautiful Rondo in C is the filler, and here we're witness to the way Oistrakh's magic extends to his "conducting"--which means rehearsing the orchestra and cueing the players from his solo position during performance. Although their numbers are far greater than the attenuated Mozart orchestra lineups preferred today, the Berliners play with rhythmic alertness and never sound spongy.
“This disc is one of a trio of generously timed (this one's almost 76 minutes) EMI "encore" releases that largely replicates the old Angel LP box of Mozart's concerted works for violin. Those who prefer their Mozart lean and lithe may prefer Pamela Frank's budget-priced set on Arte Nova. I find Arthur Grumiaux's versions on Philips as the only real rival to this set. The Belgian is Oistrakh's less intense.”
Incidentally, the striking cover photo of Oistrakh that appears on the front of each jacket was taken by Auerbach. There are superb liner notes on the reverse side of all three jackets – provided in both English and German – by Robin Golding.