Sunday Supplement – David Oistrakh plays Tchaikovsky

Critically panned and turned down not once, but twice by the violinists approached to give its debut performance, it’s fair to say that Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto received a less than overwhelmingly positive first reception.

Iosif Kotek, the violinist who lovingly helped to compose the concerto, decided that performing it would be akin to career suicide. Leopold Auer, the violinist to whom it was first dedicated, declared it ‘unplayable’, while criticism ranged from ‘long and pretentious’ to music that ‘stinks to the ear’ and ‘odorously Russian’ – all in one review.

If ever a piece of music was going nowhere, this was the one.

Yet, today, this concerto has become one of the most loved, most played and most revered of all compositions within the genre. How those musicians and critics would have loved the luxury of a quick glimpse into the future before making their initial statements and decisions on the work.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing and the lack of it has made fools of many. This beautiful piece, which is also a personal favourite of mine, has passed the test of time, standing at the height of the violin repertoire and gaining universal acceptance, despite its unappreciated beginnings.

Today’s video showcases the great talent of David Oistrakh with a complete performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35.


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