Lydia Mordkovitch, who won a Gramophone Award in 1990 for her Chandos recording of the two Shostakovich violin concertos (‘Mordkovitch even outshines thee work's dedicatee and first interpreter, David Oistrakh, in the dark reflectiveness of her playing, wrote Edward Greenfield), has died aged 70.
Born in Saratov, USSR, she moved to Odessa where she studied at the Stolyarsky School of Music and then transferred to Moscow where she became a student of David Oistrakh at the city’s Conservatory. In an interview with Gramophone in December 1991, Mordkovitch recalled hearing Shostakovich’s Violin Sonata for the first time. ‘I think that the Violin Sonata is one of the greatest works for violin written in our century and it also has special significance for me because I was present when it was born. David played it for the first time in our classroom, with the composer Mikhail Vajnberg, who was a fantastic pianist, and he gave the first public performance in the Union of Composers, again with Vajnberg a couple of weeks later. The hall was full – people were standing and sitting on the steps – and the sonata made an incredible impression on everybody. Shostakovich himself was visibly moved by the performance and during the short speech he made at the end, he cried like a child.’
In 1967 she won the National Young Musicians Competition in Kiev and the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition in 1969. She moved to Israel where she taught at the Israeli Academy of Music and then, in 1980, she came to the UK and settled here. She made her US debut with Solti and the Chicago Symphony. From 1995, she was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music.
She signed a contract with Chandos in 1980 and released a stream of concerto and solo discs to invariably great acclaim, her repertoire expanding for its original Russian focus to embrace works of the British repertoire by Bax, Alwyn, Howells Bliss and many others.