Wednesday, September 4, 2013

David Oistrakh & Mstislav Rostropovitch Play Shostakovich

Shostakovich's Violin Concerto n° 1 in A minor is indeed one of the composer's most profound works. Highly autobiographical, like many of his other works that were written during crises in his life, the concerto is a serious, introspective work relieved in the second movement by biting satire and in the final movement by one of his short "burlesca" movements which he always wrote so well. The music also reflects the torment of the Russian people during that time -- a soulful project that Shostakovich took upon himself to document during and after the Stalin years. The concerto is certainly one of the greatest works of the twentieth century, and, in my opinion, this recording is one of the most intense and heartfelt performances ever captured on tape. Listen to the poignant and brooding theme of the first movement, marked "Nocturne. Adagio." The theme is insistent, and David Oistrakh plays it with warmth, depth and nobility. Mitropoulos, one of the most sensitive of conductors, forms each phrase expressively. The second movement, filled with rhythmic complexities and featuring a blazing, manic Jewish dance, is played brilliantly by the orchestra and soloist. No other recording of the piece captures that intensity of Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic, who was, at the time, at the peak of their form. The long Passacaglia of the third movement seems to speaking for the entire nation of Russia, with a heart-rending theme, beautifully developed and performed, that later becomes the basis of Shostakovich's finest cadenza, an extended emotional passage that leads directly into the short, violent "Burlesca" concluding the masterpiece. The performance is a historic document, recorded in excellent mono sound in 1956 at Carnegie Hall, a day after the successful American premier of the work. Newer recordings by Mullova, Perlman, and Salerno-Sonnenberg have more vivid stereo sound, but none of them can match the intensity of the Mitropoulos-Oistrakh recording. This recording is in a class by itself. I had bought the original LP while I was at college and wore it out. I was overjoyed to find that Sony had reissued it on CD at mid-price and with pages of documentation and photographs of the original sessions. The Sony CD also includes the brilliant Shostakovich Cello Concerto n° 1 with Rostropovich (for whom the work was written) and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, captured on tape in 1959 stereo sound with Shostakovich, himself, at the recording session. The concerto begins with the driving four-note theme that Shostakovich had used is other works and which had become a sort of motto for him, and leads the listener through a mournful second movement, an prolonged cadenza based on the brooding theme, and a concluding allegro with another of Shostakovich's vigorous Russian dances. Rostropovich literally tears into this concerto. The listener will rarely hear more committed cello playing ; Rostropovich bites into the cadenza with noble passion. In short, these are recordings that all Shostakovich enthusiasts greatly admire and have in their collections. It is generous of Sony to put these two incredible recordings onto one CD at mid-price, with good sound and excellent documentation, adequate program notes, and interesting cardboard packaging designed to appear like the original LP's.
Russel E. Higgins

Source :

David Oistrakh
Mstislav Rostropovitch


Dmitri Shostakovich

Concerto for Violin & Orchestra n° 1 in A minor, Op. 99

1 I. Nocturne. Adagio  11:57
2 II. Scherzo. Allegro non troppo  6:10
3 III. Passacaglia. Andante  13:20
4 IV. Burlesca. Allegro con brio  4:43


Concerto for Cello  n° 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 107

5 I. Allegretto  6:29
6 II. Moderato  10:38
7 III. Cadenza  5:32
8 IV. Allegro con moto  4:37


[# 1-4]
David Oistrakh - vl
New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Dimitri Mitropoulos - dir
Recorded at Carnegie Hall, New York City [Mono] ; January 2, 1956
[# 5-8]
Mstislav Rostropovich - cel
Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy - dir
Recorded at the Broadwood Hotel, Philadelphia [Stereo] ; November 8, 1959

All three releases are in Sony's superb Masterworks Heritage series. The absence of traditional jewel boxes makes the releases look more like little books, on whose covers the original cover art has been preserved, and on whose interiors every effort has been made to recreate the feel of an LP record.
Copyright © 1999, Raymond Tuttle

Source :


Melanchthon said...

wouter said...

thank you very much, mel!

i love shostakovich as a composer and oistrakh as a violist, so this must be great!

sasha said...

A bone fide classic..Thanks Mel.

theblueamos said...

Great Great!!!thank you very much from jerusalem

ProfessorCalculus said...

Thanks for this..Master Violinist, one of my favorites, Any Michelle Auclair, Rabin ????...Wish all of us could raid the Russian archives, specially when Mr. Putin is in Sweden. Thanks again

Oséias de Vargas Barbosa said...


Anonymous said...

Any chance of a re-upload of this one?