Another Oistrakh Brahms
11th June 1961, live recording at Kursaal Teatro Apollo (in Lugano).
Orchestra della Radio della Svizzera Italiana (these days known as RTSI), under Otmar Nussio.
This is a 1995 digital remaster from budget Italian label "Ermitage". I paid less than a cappuccino for this disc so if I'm overcritical... pour a latte over me.
The better my headphone setup gets the more snobbish I'm getting about recorded sound quality, so the mere fact that I was riveted to this 1961 mono recording says a lot to start with. [When were the first stereo recordings made?] Being a live performance there are some audience effects to contend with, but the energy of the live performance which fiddler mentioned is present here too. Oistrakh has a silvery tone and his mercurial melodic lines are simply magic. The third movement gets off to a rough start though, with a sudden drop in the recording quality and some scrappy playing by the violin section of the orchestra.
If I had a complaint with Oistrakh it would be his liberal approach to tempo. Grace notes become whole notes and suddenly you've got nine quavers in a bar. Semiquavers disappear and the orchestra has to be careful not to get left behind. This is my purely subjective view though, which should probably be disregarded as this kind of ebb and flow is not out of place in Brahms. Although I'm not a Mozart fan, I prefer Oistrakh's approach to the Mozart concerto KV216 (on the same disc) which is more "old school".
The sleeve notes contain a story about some of the great Soviet talents, some of whom stayed but many of whom left the former Union. One name mentioned is Leonid Kogan
who I have seen on video. He too was a technical guru and an amazing artist.
All the same, I wouldn't want to glorify any one person or recording. When you've been moved by so many different renditions you know that the music supercedes all those who play it. There are moments in Brahms which to me are like the sun rising. I hear it in the first movement of the violin concerto and also in the second symphony. If variety is the spice of life then how could you ever tire of hearing new recordings? Then again, your latte has no spice.