The Strad Issue: November 2015
Description: Great Kogan performances, even if they are misidentified
Musicians: Leonid Kogan (violin) Boston Symphony Orchestra/Pierre Monteux; Paris Conservatoire Orchestra/Constantin Silvestri
Composer: Brahms, Tchaikovsky
These great interpretations by the incomparable Leonid Kogan come with misinformation. The live Brahms Concerto from 11 January 1958, his US debut, is from Symphony Hall, not Carnegie Hall – that rendition was a week later; and it has already been issued on Doremi. The Tchaikovsky is not live but an old friend recorded at the Salle Wagram in November 1959 by EMI.
Monteux, who played for Brahms in his youth, conducts a superb tutti and Kogan is immediately into his stride, playing with great intensity. They keep the Allegro non troppo moving – it times at 15:50 up to the start of the cadenza. The Adagio is deeply felt and the finale goes at a good lick, timing at 7:08. Sound is smoother than that of the Doremi release, at a lower volume.
I know connoisseurs for whom this Tchaikovsky is the best. It has long been my own favourite. The French orchestra plays beautifully for Silvestri, and Kogan’s sense of structure in the first movement is flawless: the second subject is really tender. He delivers a sublimely ‘inward’ Canzonetta and lets rip in the finale, with sovereign control. The Méditation from the Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Tchaikovsky’s original slow movement sympathetically scored by Glazunov, is played by Kogan with eloquence and elegance.