Oistrakh/Fournier: Brahms Double Concerto - Spanish HMV LALP 498 (red/silver)
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Jacket GOOD / LP VG / Spanish pressing
This rare and handsome LP – a unique pressing* – from Spanish HMV / La Voz de su Amo (LALP 498, Spanish pressing, red/silver semi-circle label – ED1, mono) features one of the great Brahms Double Concertos on record, pairing the great David Oistrakh with the aristocratic Pierre Fournier. Recorded during 29 February to 3 March 1956 in the fabled acoustics of London's Kingsway Hall, this Walter Legge produced recording caught his Philharmonia Orchestra on glorioius form, with conductor Alceo Galliera on the podium. Filling out the LP is a rich and stirring account of Brahms's Tragic Overture Op. 81.
This leonine, richly expressive account captured every artist involved at the very peak of his powers, surpassing even the formidable, but more febrile 1939 Heifetz/Feuermann/Ormandy account as well as the 1951 Milstein/Piatigorsky/Reiner rendition, both for RCA Victor.
*This particular pressing is rather unique in that it is, to my knowledge, the only issue of this performance on the red/silver semi-circle Nipper label – in other countires (e.g., England, Italy, France, Holland, et al.) this performance was issued on the Columbia label, invariably with a blue/gold or blue/silver. In Spain, however, the distinction between Columbia label and His Master's Voice label artists was not always maintained. Spanish Columbia did have an LCX prefix (like the FCX or 33CX) that was used under the Regal moniker, though the Regal catalog seems to have been rather small. Most Spanish EMI issues, like the Oistrakh offered here, used the His Master's Voice – La Voz de su Amo – label. Well, one for the Oistrakh collector who has everything (-:
It would be a mistake to bypass this lovely Spanish pressing on the basis of mono sound, which is clear as a bell and hardly inferior to the stereo issue, or in terms of production – these superb 1950s Spanish pressings are absolutely equal to their French (FALP) or English (ALP) counterparts.
Incidentally, the liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket, provided in Spanish only, were written by Jean Cotté (Double Concerto) and W.A. Chislett (Tragic Overture).
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is GOOD. There discoloration, ringwear, edgewear, particularly along the spine, and a small tear to the open edge of the jacket. However, there are no seamsplits, owners' markings, or other defects, and the album remains solid and attractive – overall, this still rates as a decent copy.
The condition of the LP is VERY GOOD. Although the surfaces are not CD silent, in general the playback is excellent. However, those wanting flawless or near-MINT surfaces are kindly advised to look elsewhere. Overall, this rates as a very good collector's copy.