Performers compared

David Oistrakh, violinist

I had the opportunity this past week to renew my connection with the performance aspects of Russian violinist, David Oistrakh, who died in 1974. What an absolutely amazing violinist he was! His ability to recreate the composer’s melodies was astounding. His sound floated in space with a warm tone, and a technique that seemed as though he had no obstacles whatever.

In this recording, we get Mr. Oistrkah performing two of the greatest compositions for the violin:

Tchaikovsky & Sibelius: Violin Concertos



  • Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47


  • Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35

Performed by David Oistrakh (violin), with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting

David Oistrakh was born in Odessa in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) into a Jewish family of merchants. His father was David Kolker and his mother was Isabella Beyle (née Stepanovsky), who later married Fishl Oistrakh. At the age of five, young Oistrakh began his studies of violin and viola as a pupil of Pyotr Stolyarsky.

David Oistrakh provides a luminous, marvelous performance recorded in December 1959. He combines thrilling technique with a refined lyrical sweetness of tone. This performance is Classical in its control yet it always exhibits the open-hearted Romanticism for which Tchaikovsky is renowned. The Philadelphia Orchestra, in its heyday under Ormandy, makes an ideal accompanist. Their famous string sound is a perfect partner for Tchaikovsky’s lush melodies.

Tracks on this CD are:
1. Peter Tchaikovsky:
• Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35: I. Allegro moderato
• Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35: II. Canzonetta. Andante
• Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35: III. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo
2. Jean Sibelius
• Violin Concerto, Op. 47 in D minor: I. Allegro moderato
• Violin Concerto, Op. 47 in D minor: II. Adagio di molto
• Violin Concerto, Op. 47 in D minor: III. Allegro, ma non tanto

Here is a 13-minute video of one of the great violinists of all time: David Oistrakh playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35: 1st Movement

As a comparison, here is Jascha Heifetz (and Fritz Reiner conducting) performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, 1st movement:

And… now that Heifetz and Oistrakh are long gone, here’s an example of one of the new great performers we have that will take the violin tradition forward: (Notice that the tempo is somewhat slower):

To hear it, click HERE:

Tags: Oistrakh, Heifetz, Janine Jansen, violin concerto, Tchaikovsky

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *