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I prefer Josefowicz and Novacek's sparsely nourished utterances and the more forward-moving tempo than Oleg Kagan and Sviatoslav Richter; notably in the opening moderato.

The Canadian's is closer in tempi to Shostakovich's briefly released recording of the Sonata with David Oistrakh (taped in the violinist's apartment -- December 1968) than it is with the rival 'live' 1985 version by Kagan and Richter (Regis RRC 1128).

Following the 'domestic' 1968 tape Oistrakh gave three performances; one with pianist Moisey Vainberg (January 1969) for the Russian Union of Composers -- the second with Richter, an official première (Moscow, 3 May 1969 -- included in the BMG 5-disc David Oistrakh Edition), and later (Leningrad, 23 September 1969), also with Richter.

For earlier recordings Josefowicz has used the 1708 'Ruby' Stradivarius, loaned to her by the Stradivari Society in 1993-94 or the 1739 'Ebersolt' Guarnerius del Gesù on loan from Dr Herbert Axelrod. On the present CD I understand she is playing a Del Gesù dated 1724.

My top three versions in the concerto are (i) David Oistrakh -- unsurpassed -- with the NYPO and Dmitri Mitropoulos (Sony MONO remastered); (ii) Leila Josefowicz with the CBSO and Sakari Oramo (Warner Classics) [listen -- track 4, 3:23-4:46]; (iii) Daniel Hope and the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Maxim Shostakovich (Warner Classics). My winning modern recording of the Sonata -- Josefowicz/Novacek.

Copyright © 8 November 2006 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No 1; Violin Sonata

2564 62997-2 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 68'58" 2006 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd

Leila Josefowicz, violin; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Sakari Oramo, conductor; John Novacek, piano

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975): Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor Op 99 (1948) (Nocturne: Moderato; Scherzo: Allegro; Passacaglia: Andante; Burlesque: Allegro con brio - Presto); Violin Sonata Op 134 (1969) (Andante; Allegretto; Largo - Andante)


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