Today's Classical Music Video

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

David Oistrakh Plays Debussy

In the 1950s there were two violinists who set the standard for all others: Jascha Heifetz and David Oistrakh (1908-1974). Of course there were other fine violinists too but Heifetz and Oistrakh were almost in a class by themselves. They had an authority, a command of style, a sound and a charisma that set them apart. Since he spent most of his career in the United States Heifetz was better known and more likely to be seen and heard in North American concert halls. He also had a recording contract with RCA Victor.

For his part, Oistrakh was a victim of the Cold War. He lived in the Soviet Union through the Stalin Years and he was seldom allowed to travel to the West. His first concert in the West was given in Helsinki in 1945, and his first concert in the United States in 1955 at the age of 47.

Oistrakh was renowned and revered for his performances of the Tchaikovsky concerto and both Shostakovich concertos are dedicated to him. But he was an extraordinarily cultivated musician. He often played chamber music and made many fine chamber music recordings. In later years he became a much-admired conductor. In this video made in Paris in 1962 he plays Debussy's Clair de lune with exquisite tone and phrasing.

Paul E. Robinson

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