Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shostakovich, Oistrakh, Sádlo play E minor Trio, Op. 67

Having just posted the Ravel Trio in an exemplary performance by Menuhin, Kenter, and Cassado, the logical next step was to post what many consider the other of the two great trios of the twentieth century. Those who so rate the Shostakovich and Ravel will get no argument from me, just a plea not to forget the Ives when listing the rest of the great works in this genre.

This recording with the composer at piano, from 1946, may suffer noticeable sonic deficits from the recording technology of the era, and, undoubtedly, from my attempts to digitize an LP of it with lots of wear and scratches. One would be hard pressed to challenge its musical authority, though, given the players involved.

In contrast to the somber and sardonic musings of Shostakovich, the Prokofiev quartet is notably uncomplicated. It is played here convincingly by the sometimes underrated Fine Arts Quartet. It has been suggested to me that its early association with a broadcast company (ABC) may account for the Fine Arts being rated less highly than it merits. With the virtually beatified Toscanini leading the NBC Orchestra, though, it seems unlikely that a broadcast association would cause significant difficulty to a reputation. In any event, they were never anything less than first rate.

Link to all files


  1. Hey Larry,

    This should be really quite good. I hope that folks do not pass up to hear Shosty play the piano. He was quite good. :)

    Thanks much!


  2. Wow! You are really gaining on me there! :)

    I'm looking forward to hearing this. Thanks!

  3. Squirrel, my friend, I certainly don't feel I'm even running in the same pack. You've been very active with your great posts recently, while I've been so busy at work that I can only grab a free moment now and again to restore music. When I do have some time there's a Cherubini C minor Requiem with the Roger Wagner chorale to put up with some notes contributed by my friend Jerry Parker, something of a Cherubini expert. Then back to the Haydn quartet project. Records go on the "to do" stack faster than I can post. And to think I worried about finding enough stuff when I started this. But I'm having fun, and enjoy the company of you, Fred, Buster, Daniel, maready and so many others who have been so encouraging and have provided so many good downloads.

  4. A valuable rarity. Shostakovich's own recording of his 2nd trio is excellent. He did not always play good in concert, since he did not practice, but here he is more than reliable, and Oistrakh's violin is great.

    The tempo of the finale is more slow than in most later recordings.

    I feel that Prokofiev's 2nd quartet in F is less sunny and uncomplicated than the Fine Arts quartet take it, but it is without doubt an excellent performance, and the much revered group (Fine Arts) had the right to interprete the score as they did.

  5. Glad you liked the Shostakovich, which I was quite excited to find.

  6. Larry and Squirrel, This is Jerry Parker (the Cherubini expert to whom my friend Larry referred) checking in! Squirrel, you will have to hear that Roger Wagner Chorale/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recording on Capitol Records of Cherubini's Requiem Mass No. 1, in C Minor, to believe how marvellous it is! It was conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent, as an Angel LP reissue of many years ago revealed (and the Capitol LP had not), and you surely know what a transcendently great conductor of choral-orchestral works Sir Malcolm was. (I saw him conduct only once, when I was in high school, but I have lots of his records.)

    I am always pleased to hear or read kind things about the Fine Arts Quartet, one of my "pet" chamber groups. They were not uniformly great, but when they were in good form they could be great and that happened, especially (and fortunately) in repertory that other groups somewhat neglected. The Fine Arts Quartet made the only decent recording of Bloch's Sixth Quartet; the other recordings of Bloch's 6th sound pale and amateurish compared to The Fine Arts Quartet. I hope that some day, somebody will digitise it! (The Griller Quartet had recorded the first five of Bloch's quartets, exceedingly well, but disbanded before Bloch composed his sixth and last quartet.)

    Then there is their amazing complete set of Mendelssohn's string quartets, so fresh in interpretation that it sounds almost as if they were extemporaneously improvising themselves the music which Mendelssohn had composed!

    Wonderful! And, alas! that Mendelssohn set has not appeared in digitigal form, either, nor have their excellent recordings, at least not all of them, of Hindemith's string quartets, favourites of mine even if this is music sadly neglected nowadays.

    Thanks, Larry! Enjoy, Squirrel!

    Jerry Parker

  7. I've picked up a double LP set from a charity shop. Supraphon 0 10 2371/2 "David Oistrakh in Prague". Historic recordings from the Prague Music Festival. One LP side is dedicated to the same recording of the Shostakovich Op67 Piano Trio with DSCH himself at the piano. I am happy to say that the recording quality is far superior to that on the download available here! And what a wonderful performance it is!

  8. Glad you got a good copy. Mine is from the late 1940s and is well played. Anyone wanting to try their hand at a better restoration of it can find the raw file here:

    Happy New Year!