This recording from 1966 was made in France and brings marvellously passionate yet subtle performances of two French masterpieces that partially elude interpreters of the second rank, namely the Debussy and Ravel violin sonatas which are works of great beauty, intensity and sadness; and for these alone it could be warmly recommended, particularly as the pianist Frida Bauer is much more than a merely adequate support for the great Soviet violinist. The sound has come up extraordinarily well in the NoNoise CD transfer (see May, page 1561), not least the violinist's wonderful tone—one only notices the age of the recording in a slight limitation of dynamic range at the lower end and the violin perhaps, being over-close (and for my ears, theRead more Ysaye, which is the final item imperatively needs a reduction of volume)—and at mid price this issue is a bargain indeed.
The Prokofiev Five Melodies are true melodies in the French sense and thus in fact arrangements of actual songs, though originally these were vocalises without words: they date from the 1920s which was a good period for this composer and despite their (to be honest) somewhat thin and contrived idiom Oistrakh plays them most persuasively. The Ysaye sonata, subtitled Ballade (1924), lasts less than seven minutes and is the third of a set of six for unaccompanied violin; it is more than an agreeable curiosity and after a necessary volume reduction gives pleasure and earns its place in this fine recital of music belonging to the decade from 1917.
-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone [6/1988] Read less