David Oistrakh complete EMI recordings - 17 CD set

June 20, 2010 at 03:54 AM ·

Just recieved and drooling at the treat of listening through this set (which I'll do while driving).  Anyone else have it?  Comments??

Replies (48)

June 20, 2010 at 01:13 PM ·

Wow!!!!  One of my all time violinist favorites!  Just wait until Anne-Marie Proulx sees this, she'll go nuts!!!!!!!!

June 20, 2010 at 02:00 PM ·

I've got oodles of Oistrakh's CDs, so I passed on the EMI set.  For someone that doesn't already have a lot of King David's recordings, it is a great buy!

He's one of my special favorites and inspirations.  He made so many great recordings of so many different pieces, but I'd have to place his Shostakovich's First Concerto at the top of the heap.  It is beyond words...

June 20, 2010 at 05:02 PM ·

well - I just listened to the first CD - it has the most amazing beethoven tripple concerto.  its not only the specacular soloists by a long shot though - how often do you hear an orchestra with such rich depth - I wonder if the old recording methods had some advantages...

Funnily, I went to hear the Toronto symphony do Beehoven's 9th last night (midnight concert) which was definitely a great set-up!

June 20, 2010 at 06:33 PM ·

That brilliant recording of Prokofiev's second Sonata is one of my favorites, both among pieces on the 17 CDs and among recordings of Prokofiev op. 94.

June 20, 2010 at 11:33 PM ·

There are many people who feel the "old recording methods" to be superior; and the old playback methods as well. Analog recording and playback seems to have an emotional depth that digital fails to convey, they feel. And tube (valve) amplifiers impart their own warmth. Still, I imagine porting analog over to the CD format would remove much of the original flavor.


June 21, 2010 at 12:04 AM ·

Hi, Royce really knows my limitless admiration for David Oistrakh and his work!!!   He's god (in my opinion...) !  And, at the same time, so much more human than many many others. 

Although, I don't think such a phenomenon could be possible in today's context even if such a talent would exist.  It was a combination of everything that did this genius. 

I have many of his collections.  I think I might have much of what can be find on the EMI collection but it is one of my next purchase when I'll be "CD hunting"! 

Thanks for telling!  Very anxious to hear your comments.


June 21, 2010 at 02:35 PM ·

@Ann-Marie: Hi, Royce really knows my limitless admiration for David Oistrakh and his work!!!   He's god (in my opinion...) !  And, at the same time, so much more human than many many others. 

There is a delicateness in his touch that I have not heard anyone else achieve - my mental image is of a child stroking a kitten - its as if every note is a treasure.  And thats why I bought the set ....

June 21, 2010 at 06:18 PM ·

Oistrakh has such a voluminous tone on recordings (to me it is the auditory equivalent of biting into a juicy, tasty, tender steak), that it is hard to believe that he could have sounded that way in the concert hall, but he did. I was privileged to hear him about a half-dozen times (all in Chicago, in recital and with orchestra), and it seemed to me that he had twice the tone of any other violinist I have ever heard.

And the sound was not only big, it had a quality of refinement and penetration that is hard to describe. The slightest touch of bow to string, and you could hear it at the furthest reaches of the hall, as if he was right in front of you. I remember a recital in which he played the Locatelli Harmonic Labrynth. At the end of the piece, instead of ending on a chord, he ended by playing the last cord as a rapid arpeggio that just faded away into nothingness. I never saw or heard such bow control at the service of musicianship in my life.

All the words said about him are wonderful, but ultimately are not enough to do justice to his artistry. And yet, with typical modesty, Oistrakh is the one who said, "There are us violinists, and then there is Heifetz."

I have several of his recordings, as do many of us, and I would not part with any of them, so I too am looking forward to finding out more about this EMI set. But Oistrakh live in the concert hall was something else.


June 21, 2010 at 10:01 PM ·

The very few recordings from the 30's and the 40's demonstrate a facet of Oistrach not known to many. He made his debut in the U.S.A. when he was a mature artist in 1955. During the 30's and even before he was a spectacular virtuoso very much comparabe to Kreisler at his best, playing Paganini and Sarasate in a way you can imagine only in dreams. Oistrach was Kreisler's, Menuhin's,Szeryng's favorite player and artist... P.S. Sander, I would like to know where that quote comes from: It seems to me that Oistrach was focusing on Kreisler when he arrived in America. It was is idol and he wrote him a letter. An arrangment was made for him to meet finally with Kreisler. There are many press pictures of that now legendary encounter of Oistrach and Kreisler. It was a hit at the time in the media.

June 21, 2010 at 11:07 PM ·

I had no idea John... but I can't help but wonder how many amazing artists died in the gulag/extermination camps/etc...

June 21, 2010 at 11:41 PM ·

Next spring, I will listen to a cellist (one of Rostropovich and Casals student) who also spent a little time there in Goulag...  Fourtunately, he seems to not have been hurt (at least physically).  Still can play cello! 

I didn't know about these people in URSS who hid the recording secretly...  (REALLY heros!  When I think of the treasures that would have been distroyed...   These artists who worked so hard deserve to have intact their jewel audio legacy they left and to be famous forever)

Elise, love your Kitty example!  You know how cats walk with soft cushions pads under their feet...  And Oistrakh was also able, as a magician to turn the kitty in a lion (still cushioned beast but much more fiercy than a kitty) very quickly when he wanted with perfect command.  Big or small kitties, this is how a violin should be held (but really not many were able to make it sound that way...)  Perhaps this is why Oistrakh seemed so happy with the Koala, the monkey in his arms and feeding the Pigeons (on Artist of people)!  I have heard of many violin teachers telling about the violin neck beeing like a little animal you don't want to hurt.  Kreisler has pictures with dog pets.  Perhaps golden heart/sound artists love animals!

Everybody, get kittens to learn how to hold a violin!   ; )    


June 21, 2010 at 11:56 PM ·

Wow, I just realized that today, I helped and talked to someone the same age as Oistrakh!  102 years old!  What history in such living people...   My own Grandpa was born that year too but died when I was young. 





June 22, 2010 at 12:47 AM ·

@John: ...........The era must have been terrifying. The writing tells awful tales of pretty ladies going out for an evening at the theatre and then cleverly delivering the unsuspecting victim to the KGB.  Well,that`s women for you.

And who did they 'deliver' their victims to? :-\

June 22, 2010 at 01:03 AM ·

For me, one of the recordings to treasure in this set is the Khachaturian concerto with the composer conducting the Philharmonia. My ex-leader, Peter Mountain, tells in his book "Scraping a Living" about turning up for the recording and there was this guy sitting quietly there clutching a violin case. At first he thought it was a new extra player, but no, this was Oistrakh making his recording debut in the U.K. That Philharmonia was quite an orchestra - led by Manoug Parikian and players like Peter, Hugh Bean and Arthur Davison just as section members!


June 22, 2010 at 12:36 PM ·

Hi, Marc: Regarding the Oistrakh quote about Heifetz, I do not remember where I read it (it was years ago, but it's not the kind of quote one forgets) - it may have been in Henry Roth's book, or in an interview I read somewhere, but I know it exists somewhere.

June 22, 2010 at 01:34 PM ·

Just from his playing I can imagine that David would have said the same about me or you ;)  Perhaps thats his magic to me - music spawned from humility and grace.  For all his pyrotechnics, technical mastery and, yes, astonishing artistry, I never hear that in Heifetz.  Its a bit like Gauguin compared to Picasso...

Is/was David the violinist's violinist?

June 22, 2010 at 07:37 PM ·

Elise: he was, and also a distinctive conductor and chamber musician. Heard many of his recitals and his programs where always unsual and longer than any other famous violinist I have heard. Here is an example from one of his programs I have with me: Bach, two sonatas for violin and piano. Beethoven, number 7. Prokoviev number1 intermission- Bartok violin sonata, Olivier Messian theme et variation, Ravel ,Tzigane and as an encore Ysaïe poème élégiaque and Locatelli Caprice ,le labyrinthe. He often performed two concerti the same evening.  Heard Mozart 5 and Brahms the same night live in Montreal...

In one month, he did performed all of the major concerti of the repertoire ( about thirty). I believe that his musical capacities where greater than his colleagues. His technique was truly at the service of music.

June 22, 2010 at 07:48 PM ·

thanks for that insight Marc... yet he comes accross as so understated, I hope that impression is correct....

June 22, 2010 at 10:32 PM ·

Marc has a great point!  I also noticed that his recorded recitals were longer than anyone. He often conducted for the first part of the concert, played a whole concerto after and added an encore (that is no baby piece...)  The whole thing was maybe two hours or so (I would have to verify the exact time) 

In addition, I have often hear one or two performances quite close from other artists but as much huge repertoire (quantity) played magnificiently + teaching (real teaching with regular students... not just giving masterclasses here and there) + conducting + violist + wrote a few things.  Oistrakh probably achieve more things than many many!  That is what we call a "complete" artist! 


Many of today can play very well but do they do as much?  I won't enter in this but, usually (even in the greats), no one wants to "kill"  (ok I'll say give themselves)  themselves as much for the job... (People in the URSS maybe had much pressure and were maybe forced to do this (?) but it doesn't "lessen" their achivments!) 




June 23, 2010 at 12:45 PM ·

Elise - enjoy them.  I feel enormously privileged to have heard him recital in the early 1960s.  It really does not get any better than Divine David.  I wonder if the set includes his wonderful recordings of the Bach sonatas for violin and harpsichord.

June 23, 2010 at 04:05 PM ·

Hi Tom,

Lots of beethoven, Brahms and Mozart but odly, no Bach:



June 23, 2010 at 10:32 PM ·

Interesting.  He also did some very good Bach concerto recordings, but probably for a company that was not EMI.   too bad.

June 24, 2010 at 12:39 AM ·

I think most of his Bach recordings were done for DG. The famous 3 concertos were done with the RPO under Goossens.

June 24, 2010 at 02:30 AM ·

EMI comments that most of his recordings were made by a soviet company - but they are not the same quality as the EMI ones.  I can see that I've got a new bug now and will have to start collecting.

Its incredible how his technique comes through whether he is playing solo or in a trio wiht a full orchestra and with what was probably a single mono-mike..  I'm only on CD #3 up to now - but have heard two different recordings of the Beethoven tripple concerto.  BOth have much to commend them - though you hear more of hte soloists in the latter.  The Brahms double concerto (disc 2)  first movement I don't get but the second movement is blow your socks off amazing with Rostropovich...  Now on disc 3 - wonderful rendition of Beethoven violin concerto and I'm currently trying to get into the Sibelius concerto... love the music but don't understand it...

June 24, 2010 at 02:33 AM ·

@ John: <I like the way you said "the celophane is still on them"  , like an Irishman sitting before his pint of Guiness for a few minutes  imagining how good it will taste.>

What a lovely analogy and totally accurate!  I do the same with new clothes - hang them in the closet with their tags on and then when I look in each morning I can delight in the new clothes that are waiting for their first outing :)

Have you ever drunk Guiness in Ireland?  Its so thick you can actually turn the glass upside down momentarily without it coming out.  They should give you a spoon!  Oh, and you can write your initials in the 'head' and they will still be there when the pint is finished.

Not that I drank a lot of beer or anything that is :)

June 24, 2010 at 01:23 PM ·

I don't have the EMI set, but as I do have 96 different Oistrakh's recordings, I suppose I already have all of the set works.

June 24, 2010 at 02:30 PM ·

@Carlos: You don't perchance have a CD copying device :)

[OK I know thats illegal but sometimes a girl has to become a bandit....]

June 24, 2010 at 05:05 PM ·

high maintenance?  Not at all - I pay my own way ;)

OTOH there are my competition dance dresses :o


June 24, 2010 at 11:49 PM ·

Elise - shame on you! And at around £30 from Amazon for £17 CDs it's not worth cheating. That's less than £2 per CD

June 24, 2010 at 11:53 PM ·


Hang on - did you miss the bit about taking the cellophane off?

And maybe you missed the satire too... ;)

I should add that every CD I own I bought new.  Can you match that?

June 25, 2010 at 12:21 AM ·

Elise, Sander told that it was not possible to tell in words how amazing Oistrakh and his music were. This is true. But I once fell on this lovely quote that I can't agree more with (not to mention that this quote is really a cute one ; )

"God created the music first and then created Oistrakh to play it..."




June 25, 2010 at 12:57 AM ·

Ann-Marie - we are totally on the same page.  It would be so interesting to have a compilation where the same piece was performed by several of the greats - I suppose a Bach sonata/partita would be the most likely (though it might not be fair to all).  Still to be able to contrast the strengths would be fabulous...

June 25, 2010 at 04:27 AM ·


elise, I think you have just described the average violin nerds CD collection ;)  But in fact such a collection doe snow exist quite freely.  Simply decide on a work and click on youtube.  This resource is,  in my opinion,  one of the most significant new contributions to both the art of violin pedagogy and simply love of the instrument ever made.



June 25, 2010 at 04:46 AM ·

Buri - I agree: youtube has become the music encyclpaedia.  Its wonder is not only that you can find just about everything played by a very accomplished player, but you can also find every stage up to that - including all the students (myself included - but up to now only dancing ;) ). 

But I spend a significant amount of time driving and thats where I enjoy and listen to music with the best concentration and pleasure and there I need my radio and my CDs.


June 26, 2010 at 03:09 AM ·

Lots of beethoven, Brahms and Mozart but odly, no Bach:


Ack!  The Oistrakh recording I have been looking for for decades is not there!

He recorded the most haunting, ethereal Brahms Lullaby (which gets really transcendent in the arrangement he played after the first exposition of the theme).  Does anyone know who he recorded it for?

June 26, 2010 at 05:25 AM ·

David Oistrakh: The Romantic Violin

That is the album on which you will find him playing Brahms' Lullaby.  I had it on a Monitor LP some years ago.

June 26, 2010 at 07:20 AM ·


"But I spend a significant amount of time driving and thats where I enjoy and listen to music with the best concentration"

I will keep that in mind next time I drive in or around Toronto and carefully avoid your itinerary!!!!.

 The Bach concertos and sonatas for violin and harpsichord were recorded for DGG but are not available..only the sonata for 2 violins and harpsichord with Igor (I prefer the recording they made in Russia). Unfotunately, Oistrkh only recorded the first sonata for solo violin. There's also a live recording of the A minor  sonata's andante on doremi (Oistrakh collection vol.13).

Brillant classics has issued 30 Cds (10  for chamber music, 10 for concertos and 10 for trios) of Oistrakh recordings, from the russian archives (both live and studio recordings). Transfers are not always very good and the dates are sometimes wrong, but it is definitely worth the few bucks it costs...enjoy!!

June 26, 2010 at 08:45 AM ·

What I liked most about this set is the same works that get recorded twice (eg the Beethoven Triple, Brahms VC, Beethoven VC), where you can actually compare his performance across time (and across conductors).  Yes I know I paid twice for that privilege...

What I hate most about this set: for those of you who coughed up real dough to buy CDs in the 90s (like me), the remasterings done in the 2000s (systematically marked with an asterisk in this set) will regularly remind you "what kind of rubbish digital revolution have they stufffed upon us???"  You repeatedly get the same insult listening to other full EMI sets (eg Milstein)...

June 26, 2010 at 09:16 AM ·

"But I spend a significant amount of time driving and thats where I enjoy and listen to music with the best concentration"

I will keep that in mind next time I drive in or around Toronto and carefully avoid your itinerary!!!!.

You have nothing to fear from the tall brunette in the little red mini that is swaying from side to side, windows and roof wide open while Oistrakh blares out Beethoven's Violin Concerto.

I tell you it shocks the heck out of the booming Rap boys...

June 26, 2010 at 02:12 PM ·

Elise: I like "The booming Rap Guys" expression...I just can't stand that noise at the corner of the street... Makes me really mad. When I was 16 ,I used to listen to Janis Joplin and still does today!!!!!

June 27, 2010 at 11:30 PM ·

Elise - apologies. I was responding to the quote

@Carlos: You don't perchance have a CD copying device :)

[OK I know thats illegal but sometimes a girl has to become a bandit....]

And yes - I think I can claim the same. Luckily, I like older recordings - especially the early stereo ones when all the had was a coincident pair that gives a lovely natural sound. Such as a load of LSO recordings from 1959 and around with Julius Katchen and Ricci etc. It seemed like they were trying to re-record the whole repertoire. And now they come in boxed sets - marvellous performances for a few pounds each.

I did also buy the Brilliant sets of Oistrakh concertos and chamber music - and sets of Milstein and Heifetz. So now I know exactly how almost every piece can sound - they just don't for me!


June 28, 2010 at 09:42 AM ·

@Malcome: If the purpose of buying new is to make sure the performer maintains his income - I think one could make a case for copying CDs of performers that are dead.  I certainly don't care as much about keeping royalties going for some surviving relative.... I mean how many people here have not downloaded free sheet music from a dead composer?

June 28, 2010 at 03:06 PM ·

In the last years, I've copied nearly 400 between vynils and CDs Almost all of them very rare, OOP and founded only by chance. And I don't regret it. I can't get the the CDs in Buenos Aires, and there's no other way. But there are here still some huge vinyls collections. The problem is that you have to wait until the owner died or bankrupted to he or the widow put it for sale. And I've said "he", because 99% of the records collectors are men.

June 28, 2010 at 07:15 PM ·

Elise and Daniel, if I go to Toronto one day and hear the dopler effect on Oistrakh's sound caused by a crazy driver swaying  on both sides of the road as I take a walk,  you'd better lock your doors if you don't want me to jump in the car!!!  ; )

Warning: risk of inheriting of a passenger...


June 29, 2010 at 01:05 AM ·

You would be VERY welcome.  People are used to hearing hte mind-blowing bass and drups of Rap - I wonder how they react to heavy-metal-Oistrakh? :)

June 29, 2010 at 01:27 AM ·

Elise and Anne-Marie: I would like to point out that in the younger generation of very gifted violinists, James Ehnes is a true follower of Kreisler and Oistrach. Ehnes is not only a great violinist, but also a gifted pianist and conductor. He recently conducted the Manitoba chamber orchestra. He played the four seasons,Beethoven Romance and conducted also Tschaïkovski serenade. Two years ago he did play and conduct all five Mozart concerti. He sometimes performs concerti for piano and lately played the Shostakovith piano concerto. His repertoire is very wide. Just look at his schedule this past few months and you will notice that he can play 15 diffent concerto during a complete season. Ehnes is underated because there are to many soloists these days. Not all of them are as brilliant as Ehnes. Many play the same concerto over along period and the same recital program over and over again. Ehnes has Oistrach musical capacities. Check him out...he's worth it!!!

June 29, 2010 at 01:46 AM ·

Thanks this is very cool to know!  I always liked his playing as a soloist but I didn't know all this... Perhaps it's not for nothing he chose Marsick (even if not the one of Oistrakh)!




June 29, 2010 at 06:50 AM ·

James Ehnes :)  I heard him give a recital performance with a pianist just a few weeks ago :)  Beautiful playing, understated and musical - he played one of my very favorite pieces (I'm trying, a bit optimistically, to learn it now) the Beethoven Romance in G..  I had no idea there was a link to Oistrakh... 

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning
Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine