<< -- 4 -- Bill Newman A GREAT SCHOOLING
With such a genius of a father, it is not surprising that Igor met and
worked with some of the leading Russian composers, too. 'I had been working
also with Shostakovich. When he wrote the Second Concerto, which my father
premièred -- he composed it and everything else of his for the violin,
for him -- he was ill in a clinic, and the first performance before the official
première was at a small place in Moscow. I brought Shostakovich a
tape, and he discussed with my father over the telephone what was wrong
with the tempi and balance. I think that Shostakovich was not present at
the actual première, and only three for four months later I
was also playing the concerto.
'Shostakovich attended all my rehearsals and even made some corrections
to the orchestral dynamics. I was contacted by him again after I started
playing his Sonata for Violin and Piano with my wife, following my father's
performance. He gave instructions, and I knew him closely. I met Prokofiev
as well; when he wrote his F minor Sonata, he invited my father to his dacha
to play for him and I was only fourteen years old. Kabalevsky gave me his
Concerto to play when I was still a schoolboy. I played it many times with
him conducting very fast! Now I play about 58 concerti, and Khrennikov dedicated
three nice pieces for violin and piano to me -- they are very difficult!'
'Mutilated versions of concerti sometimes cause concern, like Leopold
Auer's revisions of the Tchaikovsky concerto's last movement. Of course
I played it for fourteen years -- it was fashionable in Russia, and partly
for a Hanover concert with the Berlin Philharmonic and Karajan. The orchestra
was due to arrive at six o'clock for a short rehearsal; the event starting
at eight. Unfortunately they arrived at seven instead and we met for fifteen
minutes' rehearsal, and because of the cuts we needed to discuss them for
fourteen minutes only. It was such a pity, because I would have had much
more pleasure talking with such a great musician about some other more musical
problem, like the passage which Auer made quite effective "up and down"
at one point, being replaced instead by the original bars.
'Instead, I simply said, "Maestro, I hope you don't mind that I'm
playing the Auer version". He replied, "You can play anything,
but please, the same number of bars!" After that concert I decided
to cancel the cuts and perform the original.'
Commercial recordings have their ups and downs, too. 'I enjoy it, but
you have to discipline yourself all the time. We concert artists have the
habit of being able to concentrate in all sorts of situations, like playing
well at half past seven and not later. Half past nine is too late, you know!
Compared with composers, writers and painters -- they can even do it
when not in the mood either two hours later, or at night, or tomorrow.
Next week, even!'
'Then the producer/engineer says, "I'm sorry, we will have to change
the microphone as we have a noise", or someone goes to the wrong hall
by mistake, and we don't record at all! Everything is necessary to re-create
enthusiasm and freshness, artificially; and maybe I'm also getting
tired or too lazy to make intercontinental flights. I still do it, and recently
I was conducting Strauss's Don Juan (very hard!) and Beethoven's
Pastoral Symphony, but I'm more happy with shorter travelling and
performing mainly in Europe.'
Copyright © 9 February 2003
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
LONDON'S ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL
Igor Oistrakh celebrates the 50th anniversary of his UK début with a concert at London's on Saturday 15 February 2002 at 7.30pm. Benjamin Wallfisch conducts the English Chamber Orchestra in Mozart's Haffner Symphony and Oistrakh joins them to play the Mendelssohn and Beethoven Violin Concertos.