Oistrakh/Cluytens: Beethoven Violin Concerto - Columbia QCX 10384
Jacket VG / LP NM / Italian pressing
This beautiful LP from Italian Columbia (33 QCX 10384, Italian pressing, red semi-circle label, stereo) features legendary violinist David Oistrakh’s classic account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 61, accompanied by André Cluytens and the Orchestre Nacional de la Radiodiffusion Française – recorded in the Salle Wagram, Paris on 8/10 November 1958 (Walter Legge, Producer / Paul Vavasseur, Engineer).
This was the last of Oistrakh's three studio renditions of the Beethoven (there are no less than 4 ‘live’ extant accounts) and arguably the high-water mark of his achievement in this work, blending an Olympian strength with an apollonian spirit. The sound is truly superb.
Incidentally, in the First and Third Movements, Oistrakh plays Kreisler’s cadenzas.
In reviewing an EMI CD re-issue of this performance, the superb critic Tim Perry wrote for MusicWeb-International:
“The classic recording is, of course, David Oistrakh's recording of the Beethoven with Cluytens. Of his four studio recordings of this piece, this one is probably Oistrakh's best, edging out even his earlier EMI studio performance with Ehrling. True, that earlier account is perhaps more urgent, and there is little to complain about in relation to its clean mono sound. This recording, however, sees Oistrakh at his most refined, shaping Beethoven's lyrical phrases with a sweet full tone and classical poise. It helps that he has a sympathetic Beethovenian on the podium. Cluytens had already begun recording his classy Beethoven cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic when this recording was made, and his attention to the detail of the score, clarifying of internal parts and careful phrasing help to give this recording its famous beauty. While the violin is balanced forward, Walter Legge's superb ear never allows it to overwhelm the orchestra. If you do not own this recording, you need it. Of course, if you are an Oistrakh fan first and foremost, you may prefer to acquire this recording in harness with another of his concerto performances – his Philharmonia performance of Mozart's third violin concerto – on EMI's Legends series.”
This is a quite familiar recording and one cannot say that either the English Columbia 33CX release or the French Columbia FCX release is rare. However, this Italian issue – with its unique cover art (different from any other of Columbia's European divisions) certainly is.
There are informative liner notes (uncredited) on the reverse side of the jacket, provided in Italian only. The amazing cover design is similarly uncredited.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is VERY GOOD The only real flaw concerns some rippling to the laminate on the front panel. There is also some discoloration to the rear panel, but that is all. There are no seamsplits, owners' markings, bends, or other defects and the album remains perfectly solid, bright, glossy, and very striking in appearance – a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is near-MINT. Although surfaces are not absolutely silent (and thus I have rated it NM vs. MINT) this is a fine copy and playback is superb. If you must have perfect surfaces, then please do not buy this LP. Overall, this rates as a NM collector's copy.