- Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77 (published as Op. 99)
- Violin Concerto No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129
Whoever it was that said that nobody but Oistrakh should ever be allowed to record Shostakovich's violin concertos should be made to listen to this disc by young Japanese-German violinist Arabella Steinbacher. After decades of performances that were more smoke than fire and more shadow than substance, Steinbacher comes out with performances of amazing virtuosity, astonishing energy, and astounding intensity. She never knew the crawling terror of the post-Great Patriotic War USSR, but you can't tell it from her maniacal performance of the "First." She never knew the numbing dread of post-heart attack, pre-death Shostakovich, but you can't tell it from her horrifying performance of the "Second." Not only is Steinbacher completely on top of the composer's excruciatingly difficult violin writing, she's totally under the skin of his acutely nervous psychology. Although her performance is wholly her own, her interpretation seems entirely Shostakovich's. With the skillful and sympathetic conducting of Andris Nelsons and the passionate and powerful playing of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Steinbacher has created a pair of performances that stand close -- very close -- very, very close -- to Oistrakh's. Orfeo's sound is big and brash but not unpleasantly so.