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Violin & Cello Concertos [Import]

Oistrakh; Rostropovich; Mitropoulos; Ormandy , Shostakovich Dmitri Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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1. "Concerto No. 1 in A minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 99"
2. "Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major for Cello and Orchestra , Op. 107"
3. I. Nocturne. Adagio
4. II. Scherzo. Allegro non troppo
5. III. Passacaglia. Andante
6. IV. Burlesca. Allegro con brio
7. I. Allegretto
8. II. Moderato
9. III. Cadenza
10. IV. Allegro con moto

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Sony has brought together Shostakovitch's greatest concertos in first recordings made soon after their American premieres by the artists most closely identified with them. Neither performance has been bettered, though some, such as Vengerov's Teldec Violin Concerto, come close. The Violin Concerto is in solid, detailed mono; the Cello Concerto in fine stereo. Oistrakh goes to the heart of the violin work, playing with extraordinary tonal magnificence and emotional power. He's matched by Mitropoulos, whose identification with the score is apparent. Rostropovitch is as good in the Cello Concerto, getting excellent support from Ormandy's Philadelphians. Both performances share the white heat of fresh discovery and have stood the test of time to become classic recordings. --Dan Davis

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
I have heard several recordings of Shostakovich Cello concerto #1, but nothing tops this one. This is one of those pieces needs a top-notch cellist and orchestra to sound good. Otherwise it can easily sound like a muddle. I always feel like I have been on a long trip after listing to this piece. It starts out deceptively light with it's four note theme but quickly takes a darker turn. The second movement features two haunting yet beautiful themes. The cadenza starts out slow and brooding and reprises both themes from the second movement. It slowly turns demonic and leads directly into the final movement. The final movement adds a new exotic theme but then brings back the original four-note theme with a vengeance. As for the violin concerto it isn't bad by any means. My problem with it is I first heard a live version of this piece also recorded by Oistrakh (I think on BBC Legends) which despite the audience noises blows this one away. In addition I believe it was in stereo where as this version was recorded in mono.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting It Right the First Time May 20 2004
Format:Audio CD
This is a wonderful pairing of two of the great Shostakovich
concertoes. If I could award it 6 or 7 stars I would!
These are the "premiere" recordings of these works in the West,
and nothing has quite equalled them in their brilliance of conception and execution since. We are presented with the marvelous gifts of hearing these pieces played by the soloists
for whom the composer wrote them, and the rewards are thrilling
and unsurpassed. As noted elsewhere, David Oistrakh was one of the half dozen or so greatest violinists of the 20th Century, and besides his flawless technique he exhibits the warmth of tone, the sensitivity, the flexiblity and the overall musicality
which set him apart as a performer. For his part, Dimitri Mitropoulos accompanies his soloist with the type of genius too few conductors bring to this piece. Very few conductors were as gifted as Mitropoulos in looking at an unfamiliar score, imagining it whole and realizing that conception with brilliance.
Despite the monoural sound, the New York Philharmonic has seldom sounded better.
Likewise, Mstislav Rostropovich was one of the half dozen or so
greatest cellists of the last century. Only Casals, DuPre and
Yo-Yo Ma deserve to have their names mentioned along with his.
Rostropovich brings similar musical gifts to his reading of the cello concerto as Oistrakh brings to the violin concerto, together with a personality which expresses both the humor and the fatalism of Shostakovich with such subtlety, it takes a while for the listener to appreciate it all. Yet the real revelation here is the conducting of Eugene Ormandy. This is Ormandy before he began to play it safe, and concentrated more on lushness of orchestral tone than in challenging his listeners.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Oistrakh was one of the best ten violinist in the XX century. This selected group includes, in my opinion, Joseph Szigetti, Jasha Heifetz, Ginette Neveu, Isaac Stern, Leonid Kogan, Jacques Thibaud, Henryk Szerying, Artur Grumiaux, and Joseph Fuchs.
Oistrakh made too many golden recordings, certainly. But no one of them reached the sublime heights of this antjhological one.
The performing is absorbing since the first bars and sudenly you are in the mood. This faculty of makes us drowning in the spirit of the work is fast to feel, and just a few performers can do this!
Like performer, Oistrakh had undoubtly, many virtues. His deep comittment with every note he played, was perhaps, the most important. Remember by example, that legendary recording of Frank's violin sonata given in December 31 1968 in Moscow, with Sviatoslav Richter. This is a must that shows how great was this virtuosi and honest artist.
Don't let this opportunity for buying this record. One of the great recordings in the century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hang in there! July 16 2011
By David M. Goldberg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I had the good fortune as a student to hear both of these great virtuosos perform these self-same works with Mravinsky conducting what was then the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in the presence of the frail composer during one of the Edinburgh Festivals in the early 1960s. To this day I can close my eyes and, at least partly, relive these mind-blowing experiences. Paradoxically, when I hear these works on the radio or phono in the quiet of my own home, they never sound the same as they did in the exciting ambience of the live concert hall. I suspect that they will be much more rewarding in DVD format although I have not yet had the chance to test that hypothesis. Quite simply, these are very difficult works for the listener. They contain passages that are playfully rhythmic and others that are bombastic and even sarcastic, but more than any others, they are pervaded by moods of a sad lyricism that is profound, philosophical and pessimistic. Long passages of the latter can erupt without much warning into short bursts of the former. The structures are also complex, with several themes being carried forward into succeeding movements like leitmotifs. The slow passages are often given over to long atonal string solos. It is much easier to listen to them (and appreciate them) when one has the orchestra, the conductor, the soloist and even other members of the audience to look at. Each concerto has 4 movements, and so a lot of concentration is required to understand the composer's message and to appreciate the beauty that lies below the surface of the more austere passages. You may need to listen several times to each work, but you will be well rewarded. Not only are they clearly the offspring of this great composer --- they are so similar in style as to be virtually twins. Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Shostakovich May 16 2005
By Jeffrey Lipscomb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Rostropovich in the Cello Concerto is superb and, without question, this is the greatest STUDIO account of the Violin Concerto. But please note: Oistrakh and Mitropoulos gave the American premiere of the Violin Concerto in a LIVE radio broadcast performance on New Year's Day 1956, and the studio recording on this Sony CD was made the following day. That LIVE premiere performance can be heard (excellent sound!) in a 10-disc box set from the New York Philharmonic called "The Historic Broadcasts 1923 to 1987." It's an expensive set ($225), but it contains some other extraordinary items, such as Stravinsky conducting Tchaikovsky's 2nd Symphony, Artur Rubinstein's finest account of the Chopin Piano Concerto #1 with Bruno Walter, Kirsten Flagstad and Walter in an incredible Immolation Scene from Wagner's Gotterdammerung, Stokowski's only recording of Mendelssohn's "Scotch" Symphony, and a great performance by Heifetz with Toscanini of the Brahms Violin Concerto. While I'm not a great fan of Heifetz, this was his finest account of the Brahms.

But the REAL highlight of that NY Phil. set: the SUPERLATIVE performance by Oistrakh and Mitropoulos in the Shostakovich Violin Concerto. While this Columbia studio recording is indeed wonderful, it doesn't quite touch the inspired intensity of Oistakh's "live" premiere. Of course, not all "live" performances are better than their studio counterparts (e.g., I much prefer Sviatoslav Richter's studio Liszt concertos on Philips to his "live" concert recording on BBC Legends). But Oistrakh and Mitropoulos in the premiere tightened the screws and threw off sparks "live" that even this superb studio performance doesn't quite match.

This Sony Columbia Masterworks CD is worth its price just to have the outstanding account of the Cello Concerto with Rostropovich. But if you want to hear Oistrakh's interpretation of the Violin Concerto at its absolute zenith, you should try to hear the NY Phil. set too.

Highly recommended.
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely the best recording of the violin concerto Jan. 31 2000
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Say what you will about modern recordings of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 99, this recording, its first, is the best. In fifty years of collecting records, I put this in the top ten of any recording I've ever owned. Oistrakh, its dedicatee, and Mitropoulos and his New York orchestra played with unparalleled intensity. The Passacaglia, the heart of the work, is played more slowly than in modern recordings, and with a fervor that burns itself into your heart. The Cello Concerto is also given a classic performance by Rostropovich and Ormandy; Mason Jones, first horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra, plays the very important horn solos brilliantly.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting It Right the First Time May 20 2004
By D. J. Zabriskie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is a wonderful pairing of two of the great Shostakovich
concertoes. If I could award it 6 or 7 stars I would!
These are the "premiere" recordings of these works in the West,
and nothing has quite equalled them in their brilliance of conception and execution since. We are presented with the marvelous gifts of hearing these pieces played by the soloists
for whom the composer wrote them, and the rewards are thrilling
and unsurpassed. As noted elsewhere, David Oistrakh was one of the half dozen or so greatest violinists of the 20th Century, and besides his flawless technique he exhibits the warmth of tone, the sensitivity, the flexiblity and the overall musicality
which set him apart as a performer. For his part, Dimitri Mitropoulos accompanies his soloist with the type of genius too few conductors bring to this piece. Very few conductors were as gifted as Mitropoulos in looking at an unfamiliar score, imagining it whole and realizing that conception with brilliance.
Despite the monoural sound, the New York Philharmonic has seldom sounded better.
Likewise, Mstislav Rostropovich was one of the half dozen or so
greatest cellists of the last century. Only Casals, DuPre and
Yo-Yo Ma deserve to have their names mentioned along with his.
Rostropovich brings similar musical gifts to his reading of the cello concerto as Oistrakh brings to the violin concerto, together with a personality which expresses both the humor and the fatalism of Shostakovich with such subtlety, it takes a while for the listener to appreciate it all. Yet the real revelation here is the conducting of Eugene Ormandy. This is Ormandy before he began to play it safe, and concentrated more on lushness of orchestral tone than in challenging his listeners.
While that glorious "Philadelphia sound" is present throughout the cello concerto, it is well contained and well directed, and always at the service of both the soloist and the music.
If you can find any recording of either of these concertoes that comes up to these, please let me know.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary CD March 5 2001
By Russel E. Higgins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Shostakovich's Violin Concerto #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 #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.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slava! Electrifying stuff! March 14 2006
By Gerard Lynch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
These are absolutely gorgeous recordings of both pieces. Indeed, these are the first ever recordings of both pieces, both recorded just months after their world premieres in the USSR, in 1956 and 1959. Sony have done an excellent job with the remastering, and the sound is crisp and clean.

As for the playing - Oistrakh and Rostropovich in their prime, with Shostakovich present and advising during both recordings - what more needs to be said. Shostakovich dedicated the First Cello Concerto to Rostropovich, his pupil and friend, and he almost seems to breathe the music. Oistrakh is magnificent in the Violin Conecrto, especially in the fast and furious finale. The New York Philharmonic under Mitropoulos and the Phildaelphia Orchestra under Ormandy are pretty damn good as well, and both pieces are fiendishly difficult in places.

Sorry this is praise is a little over the top, but it is entirely deserved!
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