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David Oistrakh on stage more...  
Soloist and Conductor more...  
Always on top more...  
His fantastic play more...  
The greatest Violin sound ever ? more...  
Father and son more...  

 

  David Oistrakh on stage:
Nothing but the quietness and the self-consciousness of a great man were felt, when David Oistrakh went on stage. To play the violin with such a perfection was obviously normal to him. No nervosity, only the interpretation of the work was important. He signaled to his audience to be present on a special, extraordinary event. His playing could be best described with the continuos flow of a broad river, constant and calm. Those visitors of concerts which had some possibility to compare violinists would immediately note the enormous great sound he produced. Maybe Fritz Kreisler had been able to achieve such a sound in his concerts. This great personality was felt immediately - a great master plays works composed by another great master.
Evenness of tempo, very clear soundproduction, articulation of every single note, even the shortest in pp, made his appearance on stage a unique event.
 
     
  Soloist and Conductor:
The personality of D. Oistrakh led to his second career, conducting, Serious but musical approach and his striving for adequate interpretation were characteristics of his conducting. In an interview (approx. 1970) he mentioned his idea to also conduct the great operas of the repertory. Owing to his sudden death 1974 he could not follow this line of his career
 
     
  Always on top:
When D. Oistrakhwas given the opportunity to travel and concertize outside of the Soviet-Union, he was counted to the top of the violin-players. Moreover, this was an obligation, put onto him by the Soviet regime. This pressure could never be felt in his interpretations, but it must have created a considerable burden to him.
Technical perfection was self-understood and what D. Oistrakh added to this was the sincerity but also his natural sense to materialize the composer's intentions.
He mentioned on several occasions, that the perfection every respect was a result of enormous efforts, practicing and study.
During all his career, D. Oistrakh kept his position as a top-violinist of his time. There are no interpretations of lower quality, of lacking inspiration, of routine. Even some but very few recordings of the great Nathan Milstein lack in freshness and inspiration. Not so the play of D. Oistrakh.
 
     
 

His fantastic play:

How shall we access the wonderful and unique play of David Oistrakh with few words ? It is known that he used to demonstrate a lot to his pupils of his masterclasses. So he himself could best express his meaning by playing.
Bruno Monsaigeon summarizes the play of D. Oistrakh as follows:

Oistrakh's playing was not so much marked by brilliance, but by richness, lyricism, roundness of tone; the unbelievable sharp and clear contact between string and bow, his ability to lengthen the bow stroke on even the shortest notes without the slightest tension, his beautifully fleshy, supple left hand capable of producing glorious vibrato together with an infinite variety of shades.

It should be added, that Oistrakh was able to on one hand play the cadenza of the "Devils-trill" sonata by Tartini with cascades of unbelievable strong but clear tone, on the other hand to demonstrate colors and shades in pp in the slow movement of the f-minor sonata by Prokofiev.

 
     
 

The greatest violin sound ever ?

What makes a "Great tone" on the violin ? David Oistrakh demonstrated a richness, strength and beauty of tone which was not heard on stage or from recordings so far.
Was there a secret? - I don't think so, it must have been the imagination of sound of a great musician who was able at the same time to materialize his imagination.

Examples of the richness of sound are the cadenzas of Beethoven op. 61 or of Brahms op. 77, where he produced cascades of resonant sound, which he could not permit himself during the "composed" portion of the concerto. He would have been able to play over the orchestra on practically any forte-part of a concert yet he never exceeded the border of style or character of a composition.

Mozart, Concerto in A-major, KV 219: David Oistrakh had not the ability to play the extra tone suitable for Mozart, a lean, not full but articulated tone. Yet Oistrakh demonstrates a very interesting and valid interpretation of the work, which you would put onto your turntable again and again...

 
     
 

Father and son:

"Of all violinists of our time, Igor Oistrakh is in the most difficult position"

This quote from the book "Great violinists of our time" by J. Hartnack refers to the situation if being the son of such a great personality.
Over a long period of time, father and son appeared together, either in the Bach double-concerto, in the sinfonia concertante (the father playing viola) or as conductor and soloist.
Igor Oistrakh did not directly follow the footsteps of his father, he was a different personality.
While they shared perfection in technical respect and their appearances together, they were much different in their interpretations. Igor Oistrakh did not develop the incomparable sense of style and interpretation as the father. He gave performances between many excellent concerts, which were exaggerated and altogether too romantic.