David Oistrakh plays JS Bach, Brahms & Mozart

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COMPOSERS: Brahmas,JS Bach,Mozart
LABELS: IPA Classics
WORKS: JS Bach: Concerto for two violins in D minor, BWV 1043; Mozart: Sinfonia concertante, K364; Brahms: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77
PERFORMER: David Oistrakh (violin, viola), Igor Oistrakh (violin); English Chamber Orchestra/Colin Davis; Moscow PO/Yehudi Menuhin, Kirill Kondrashin (recorded live 1961/1963)

The first striking image on this DVD is of the young Sir Colin Davis, dark haired and thinner than he is 50 years later, but with the same tight, energetic conducting style. He leads the English Chamber Orchestra in a performance which could be considered old-fashioned in its use of vibrato and portamento, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more unanimous pair of soloists than the Oistrakhs. The camerawork allows us to see them in action with little distraction, and phrasing, dynamics and rubato are in complete agreement.
The balance of blend and contrast between father and son is even more noticeable in the Mozart, where David’s viola playing has velvety quality, although with immense underlying strength. Igor is brighter and sweeter, but recognisably a chip off the old block. The sound in the Royal Albert Hall isn’t as clean or detailed as the Bach in the Royal Festival Hall, but the style of direction again lets you see the Oistrakhs at work, with all their energy going into their playing.
Yehudi Menuhin’s conducting is efficient, but he’s not as characterful as Davis, and nowhere near as exciting as Kirill Kondrashin, who, to be fair, does have a totally different sort of concerto in the Brahms, where the force he radiates towards the orchestra simply bursts from the screen. There’s more cutting between shots than in the other concertos, but the focus is still on Oistrakh, and as well as glorious music-making, he gives an object lesson in bowing, fingering and vibrato. Martin Cotton