WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Brahms, Khachaturian: Violin Concertos / Kondrashin, Monteux, Philharmonia Orchestra

Kogan / Brahms / Khachaturian / Kondrashin
Release Date: 03/12/2013 
Label:  Guild   Catalog #: 2394   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsAram Khachaturian
Performer:  Leonid Kogan
Conductor:  Kiril KondrashinPierre Monteux
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRAHMS Violin Concerto No. 1 1. KHACHATURIAN Violin Concerto No. 2 2 Leonid Kogan (vn); 1 Kiril Kondrashin, cond; 1 Philharmonia O; 2 Pierre Monteux, cond; 2 Boston SO GUILD 2394, analog Read more (71:12)

Leonid Kogan recorded Brahms’s Violin Concerto three times in the studio: in 1955, in 1959, and in 1967. Henry Roth, in his book on the great violinists, discussed the second, with Kiril Kondrashin and the Philharmonia Orchestra, mentioning that the work, along with Mozart’s Third Concerto, had been one of the violinist’s two favorites. Roth considered the performance uneven, and, truth to tell, it always seemed to me to take Kogan some time to raise the performance to the melting point. Yet when I first heard the recording decades ago, I found it overwhelming, as though Kogan had subjected every gesture to detailed study. Later hearings suggested that, as Roth judged, some passages simply sound routine; but those passages, especially near the opening of the first movement (in the thematic statements after the soloist’s entry) in Guild’s remastering (from LPs, according to the booklet) hardly suggest an ebb in energy. In any case, from whatever temperature, Kogan certainly catches fire about halfway through the movement, turbocharging almost preternatural clarity with fiery passion—although he soars serenely in the passages after the cadenza (a serenity he extends well into the second movement). The recorded sound still suffices to communicate both the soloist’s urgency and Kondrashin’s command of the massive orchestral part. Sharp articulation, soaring tonal purity, and dynamic drive come to the fore again in the finale.

Kogan recorded Aram Khachaturian’s Concerto with the composer conducting in 1951, the year in which he won the Queen Elisabeth Competition. He made this recording with Pierre Monteux and the Boston Symphony Orchestra January 12 and 13, 1958 (originally released as RCA LM 2220, apparently mono, though RCA had been recording its top-flight artists on multi-track tape from the mid 1950s, then as a Victrola recording, VICS 1153—but the recorded sound of Guild’s remastering seems both more vibrant and sharper in definition than RCA Victor’s rerelease in their “Living Stereo” series—09026-63708); and Kogan’s version took its place alongside David Oistrakh’s and Igor Oistrakh’s: the first more lyrical and the second warmer, but neither matching Kogan’s dynamism. I heard Kogan play the concerto a few years later and considered neither his live performance-—nor his stage presence—quite commensurate with what listeners can hear in this recording (I think I snuck in and had to stay pretty far back in the shadows). In the first movement, Kogan dices the rhythmic passagework with what sounds like a razor blade; and while he may fall short of both Oistrakhs in ethnicity in the slow movement, he still captures the movement’s expressive atmosphere, especially in more meditative moments; and, as in the first movement, Monteux proves a most sympathetic collaborator. If Igor Oistrakh set a sort of standard in his sprightly reading of the finale, Kogan plays with steelier energy and soars in the lyrical passages.

Violinists and general listeners alike should greet Guild’s remasterings of two of Kogan’s greatest recordings—among the most familiar ones to listeners in the United States—with considerable enthusiasm. An urgently recommended Want List candidate for this or any year, or for this or any decade.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Leonid Kogan (Violin)
Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Austria 
Venue:  Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 36 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Concerto for Violin in D minor by Aram Khachaturian
Performer:  Leonid Kogan (Violin)
Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; USSR 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston 
Length: 33 Minutes 55 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title