Beethoven Violin Concerto
David Oistrakh, violin
Andre Cluytens, conductor
French National Radio Orchestra
Price range: $300+ on popsike
Comments: A very valuable Columbia SAX. I can't believe how high prices for this album have been inflated on Ebay. I just checked popsike, and though for some unclear reason I wasn't able to get statistics, I could see that auction prices went from around $300 to as much as 700+ GBP (!!$!). I'd recommend skipping Ebay and looking for this from a UK dealer. I bought mine from an online UK dealer about 10 years ago and paid about 145 GBP for a NM copy. In fact, I just checked and saw that a EX copy is selling on Classical Vinyl for 140 GBP, so it looks like this price might be fairly consistent.
To my knowledge, Oistrakh recorded the Beethoven Violin Concerto twice for EMI. The first time was in 1954 with Sixten Ehrling and the Stockholm Festival orchestra in mono (33CX 1194). In 1959, he recorded it again, this time in stereo, with Andre Cluytens and the French National Radio Orchestra, and I believe that this is the one which is better known. The album is simply wonderful. I would describe the performance as majestic. Oistrakh's violin is very nicely recorded -- you can just hear him playing center stage right in front of you. Cluytens and orchestra accompany him well and never overpower, creating a nice sonic balance. As far as analog versions of this concerto go, this may be my favorite, although other choices include Wolfgang Schneiderhan's classic stereo recording for Deutsche Grammophon and Nathan Milstein's stereo Capitol recording. I have never heard Leonid Kogan's Columbia SAX on vinyl, but I can imagine it could very well be sublime (I've heard the CD remastering, and at the very least the performance is charged). This is a cornerstone of the Columbia SAX collection.