Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Karen Khachaturian, Sergey Prokofiev, Karol Szymanowski|
David Oistrakh Plays Violin Sonatas By Prokofiev, K. Khachaturian & Szymanowski
Listen to Samples
Self-commending to the Oistrakh fan or just the music-lover
Discophage | France | 04/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is self-commending to the Oistrakh fan or just the music-lover interest in the art of the great violinists. The program is stylistically coherent - indeed, both the interest and the limitation of Karen Khachaturian's Sonata op. 1 (a nephew of the famous Aram) is that it sounds so much like a piece Prokofiev might have composed. Some composers have an unmistakably unique personality, and some don't. The passionate romanticism of Szymanowski's early Sonata op. 9 is more backward-looking - to the sound world of Franck's Sonata, and as a matter of fact this is the piece that was paired with it on the original LP release (it is now on the "Les Introuvables De David Oistrakh" 4-CD set). Strauss' youthful Violin Sonata also comes to mind, and I wonder why no-one has ever thought of pairing both works on disc - an ideal coupling, I'd think.
All three pieces are fairly to very rare, either in themselves or in Oistrakh's discography. Khachaturian Sonata, written in 1947 while he was still a student at the Moscow Conservatory, was recorded early on by some major fiddlers - besides Oistrakh, there was a premiere recording on Melodiya by Leonid Kogan and the composer, and Heifetz also recorded it in the US (available on Khachaturian: Sonata for violin in Gm; Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Concerto for violin Op66 or Heifetz Collection Vol.43) - then it, and its composer, seem to have disappeared from the repertoire. This is, I believe, the only CD reissue of Oistrakh's recording (the Szymanowski is available also on the same "Les Introuvables" set mentioned above, and the Prokofiev with the Violin Concertos, Prokofiev: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Violin Sonata No. 2).
On the other hand, Prokofiev's second Sonata does belong to the standard repertoire, but Oistrakh has unique authority and legitimacy here: the piece was originally written for flute and it is Oistrakh himself (for whom the first Sonata had been written) who in 1944 persuaded the composer to let him arrange it for his instrument. But while, according to Paul Geffen's invaluable discography (available on the net) the Odessa-born violinist left no less than six studio or live recordings of the first, this is the only one he made of this composition. As for Szymanowski's op. 9, although it is not as representative of its composer's unique, orient-inspired style as the later Myths, it has kept a fringe but firm place in the recorded repertoire. But when Oistrakh made this recording in 1954 it was quite a rarity item, the only other ones having then a circulation limited to Poland. It also rapidly disappeared from LP circulation and became a collector's item. Anyway it is great to see Oistrakh embrace the great 20th Century Polish composer (he also recorded the mesmerizing first Concerto and The Fountain of Arethusa, one of the Myths, to make one lament that he didn't play all three) at a time when he was hardly recognized outside of his own country.
Suffice then to say that the transfers are excellent. The mono sound has more presence and brilliance in the 1955 recordings (Prokofiev and Khachaturian) than in the Szymanowski, made a year earlier and in another location, but it affords clear definition of the violin throughout and a piano that is always somewhat recessed and lacking a bit in clarity. The transfers of the 1955 recordings are quasi devoid of tape hiss - there is slightly more of it in Szymanowski, but nothing detrimental. And the Szymanowski sounds anyway better here - slightly more clarity and brilliance - than on "Les Introuvables".
As always, the notes by Tully Potter are a mine of valuable information, here concentrating on the career and teachers of Oistrakh.