Violin Concerto No.1, Cello Concerto No.1
Eugene Ormandy was Shostakovich's great interpreter (along with Bernstein) in the West, and he was entrusted with many U.S. premiers of the great Russian composer's symphonies and concertos. This recording of the First Cello Concerto was made while both the composer and his cellist friend were on tour in the United States, so it has the imprimatur of Shostakovich himself. The Violin Concerto similarly was recorded just days after its U.S. premiere in New York with the Oistrakh, for whom it was written. This is as distinguished a pair of performances as you're likely to hear, and although the Violin Concerto is mono, the sound never gets in the way of your enjoyment. An event. --David Hurwitz
The violin concerto was for me just something extra on the disc. But after a careful listening, I'm impressed. Oistrakh was a top-notch violinist, and he was in exteme good form for this performance. The sound quality is good, but not as good as in the cello concerto. The orchestra is dazzling. I won't be skipping over this performance to get to the cello concerto - they make a fine pair in this recording. This disc is a must-have for any lover of 20th century concert music.
In the violin concerto, David Oistrakh is accompanied by Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting the New York Philharmonic. In January, 1956, when this recording was taped in Carnegie Hall, Mitropoulos and the NY Phil. could justifiably be labeled as the finest Shostakovich symphony orchestra/conductor combination in the Americas. The performance is nuanced, and both lyrical and exciting. The concerto receives a monaural presentation on this disc.
In the 'cello concerto, Mstislav Rostropovich is accompanied by Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. This November, 1959, performance from the Broadwood Hotel is presented in stereo and - like the violin concerto - provides a recording made soon after the Western Hemisphere premiere by the artists who premiered the work. Again, the performance is just wonderful. Shostakovich was present for both the live performance and the recording session.
There are no superlatives that do sufficient justice to these performances. As a bonus, the disc itself comes with an informative booklet that is more like the type of in-depth writing that was characteristic of the backs of LP jackets and LP-case information inserts.
Both recordings accurately showcase the sound of the respective orchestras during the mid-to-late 1950s with a wonderful natural balance and clear presentation of the soloists and orchestra sections without undue spotlighting. Given current technology this is a close as you can get to being at the actual premieres.
If you enjoy Shostakovich, if you enjoy great performances, you will not be disappointed. Get your copy before they are all taken. Highest Recommendation.