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Brahms: Violin Concerto; Mozart: Sinfonia
Johannes Brahms, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Otto Klemperer
Brahms: Violin Concerto; Mozart: Sinfonia
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1

David Oistrakh recorded the Brahms several times. This one is a great performance in 1960 sound that holds up well. The combination of a crack French orchestra, a German conductor known for granitelike solidity, and the in...  more »


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David Oistrakh recorded the Brahms several times. This one is a great performance in 1960 sound that holds up well. The combination of a crack French orchestra, a German conductor known for granitelike solidity, and the intense Russian violinist strikes sparks. Oistrakh plays with fire dampened by a big tone that moves easily between ineffable sweetness and molten heat. Klemperer and the orchestra match him throughout, and the Adagio is especially striking in its emotional depth. In the Mozart, from 1972, the violinist switches to the viola and directs the Berlin Philharmonic, while son Igor takes the violin part. The result is one of the best recordings of this masterpiece. The two play with spirit, breathing and phrasing as one, while David's big viola sound and expert playing indicate he's as much at home on that instrument as on the fiddle. The orchestral part is a huge plus here; the BPO's warm sound and detailed playing are outstanding. --Dan Davis

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CD Reviews

Great, but the Szell/Oistrakh is far better
Ganja Flaneur | The Land of Nod | 02/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is indeed a great performance of the Brahms, though it is not a patch on the outstanding Szell/Oistrakh recording in the so-called "Great Recordings of the Century" series. And in case anyone thinks I am biased, I bought this recording as well, being the die-hard Klemperer fan that I am. And yes, I'm afraid to say that Szell knocks him for six. For me the best thing about this CD has to be the Mozart, which is glorious.

I would give the Brahms about a 3 out of five, for what feels to me like occasional moments of drift in Klemperer's accompaniment, and moments of not-quite-so-good interpretation from Oistrakh (if this is horrifying you, please do compare this recording with his performance with Szell, where his playing and Szell's accompaniment are peerless. I would be amazed if you disagreed). Five stars for the Mozart... and I am not a big Mozart fan either..."
Fasten Your Seat Belts!
jdflynnno | 09/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can't really express in words how great this CD really is. Considering the profundity and artistry of the performances, IMHO, this might be one of the best classical CDs available today. If I were to try to introduce classical music to a newbie, this might be a CD I'd choose to do it with its formidable and inspirational combination of orchestral power (Brahms) and grace (Mozart). Whether you've heard Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major 5,000 times or you're about to experience Johannes' stratospheric quest for the first time (and, man, do I envy you!), all you need to know is Otto and Oistrakh are going ALL THE WAY, and if you want to ride along, well that's just perfectly fine and dandy with them. They're not stopping for pop music wannabes or bow-tie business daddies. And just who are those French musicians impersonating the Berliner Philharmoniker? As for Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-Flat Major, Oistrakh and the VPO give a recorded performance that can only be compared to Szell and the Clevelanders from the 1960s. Sublime, precise, dynamic, Mozart. And Oistrakh's happy demeanor shines through, as always, as opposed to dour George. BTW, in case you're new to classical music or never heard Oistrakh rosin up his bow before, the rumors and mentions in classical music magainzes are really true. He really was one of the half-dozen absolute violin greats of the 20th century. And what's this, you can buy this for less than $10 and the sound is more than adequate? You'll thank yourself one day for buying this one. And remember, Otto Klemperer is OK!"
For this price, by it! Heck, for any price, buy it!
John Grabowski | USA | 07/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Yep, masterpiece sums this one up. So does "no brainer": two of the greatest compositions in the literature, played by two of the greatest fiddlists (did I just make a word up?) in history, on one cheap CD. The sound is good, though overly-reverberant and a bit fuzzy in the Brahms (some of you may not notice; me, I like my sound dryer than this), the soloists are stupendous, and, as the Amazon review notes, this is one of the deepest and most emotional Adagios in the Brahms ever. I'm often befuddled by soloists and conductors who play the climax of this movement, the final return of the main singing theme (where the strings begin a pizzicato accompaniment), so glibly: often they just skate over it, as though they're afraid of the emotion or they think it's too schmaltzy for a major masterpiece. Well, in the right hands, it's not schmaltzy; it is, however, deeply *romantic,* and Brahms was, after all, the king of the High Romantics. Listening to this stately, rich performance by David O, you realize why many colleagues (Sviatoslav Richter for one) considered him the greatest violinist of the 20th century. Hard to argue, with playing like this as your evidence.

The Sinfonia Concertante K. 364 is one of my favorite pieces of music, period. It is unique in Mozart's output. With its depth and elegance, structural surety and technical perfection, you'd think it was a "mature" work (if you can call works of anyone who died at 35 "mature"), but no, he wrote this when he was in his early 20s and still in Salzburg living with pops. This is very fine, with son Igor Oistrakh playing violin and daddy handling viola chores and conducting, but it's not quite my first choice: that honor would go to Stern and Zukerman with Barenboim on Sony. Before you write that one off because of Barenboim, I should hasten to add that he stays out of the way and doesn't muck things up too much, conducting with a little too much thickness in spots but otherwise okay. And Stern and Zukerman *own own own* this work. Their interplay is incredible and they are so tight you'd think they are joined at the hip, and their tone is beautiful and burnished. That's not to say that this is a bad recording by any means, and I'm glad I have it, but the listener who is as passionate about K. 364 as I am should also own the Stern/Zukerman collaboration, and it is available on CD, so rejoice.

The booklet inside is quite amusing and bizarre in its layout and artwork--open it up and you'll see what I mean: paintings are cropped in non-sensical ways. Underneath the plastic that holds the CD in place is reproduced a painting called The Flower Seller by William Powell Frith. It has no relationship with either work. I think record companies just randomly pick old-fashioned artwork for their CDs, whether it makes any sense or not. No wonder few people today besides Klaus Heymann know how to run a classical label.

But who cares about artwork? You want to look at paintings, go to a museum. You want two German masterpieces played brilliantly and at a great price, buy this CD. As I said, a no-brainer. Just like the people who brought it to you."