If There Is Much In The Window There Should Be More In The Room

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tchaikovsky / L Kogan, 1959: Violin Concerto, Op. 35 - C Silvestri, Paris Conservatory (Vinyl LP)

The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1878, is one of the best known of all violin concertos. It is also considered to be among the most technically difficult works for violin.

For a complete overview of its history, please refer to:

One of the twentieth century's greatest violinists, Leonid Kogan was less widely known than his somewhat older contemporary David Oistrakh, but no less a first-tier artist. More concentrated in tonal focus and with a quicker vibrato than Oistrakh and others of the Russian school, Kogan was avowedly a man of his time.

His espousal of the four-octave scale for exercises assured the infallibility of his technique by strengthening his fingering hand in the upper positions.

Kogan's recordings and interpretations are impressive. His manner of varying the singing tone of his violin, the intensity of his sound, and the fantasy and sensations he expresses are truly magnificent. Oistrakh, after hearing him play in a concert when Kogan was only 17 years old remarked " Kogan played very precisely, with astonishing mastery and maturity. I was amazed by his sound and the breath of the movement."

Kogan would perform all of Paganini's Capricci, for example at the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and these concerts were always a unique experience for those who attended.

Kogan's style is considered more modern than that of Oistrakh. Kogan's playing, according to Boris Schwarz, was leaner, more angular and aggressive. It is more rhythmic and propulsive than Oistrakh's meditative approach and his vibrato faster and purer. His style was perhaps more objective than that of Oistrakh, and certainly very different. He avoided flamboyant effects, and was rather reticent on stage.

His violin was a Guarneri del Gesù dated 1726 ( although he also had another one dated 1733 ) , which Oistrakh acquired for him in the early 1960s. Kogan had played a Stradivarius in the early years of his career. His son, Pavel, born in 1952, became a famous violinist and conductor. His daughter, Nina, a pianist, accompanied him in later years.

Sadly Leonid Kogan died prematurely, in a train, at the Mytischa railway station while on tour. He was only 58 years old. Kogan was made an Honoured Artist in 1955, a People's Artist of the USSR in 1964, and received the Lenin Prize in 1965.

Leonid Kogan is soloist, and Constantin Silvestri leads the Paris Conservatory Orchestra in this 1959 recording of the Tchaikovsky D major violin concerto. From the LP you see here, issued in 1974 on the British EMI budget label "Classics For Pleasure," catalogue number CFP 40083.

1. Allegro moderato - Moderato assai
2. Canzonetta (Andante)
3. Allegro vivacissimo