Leonid Kogan

Leonid Kogan plays Beethoven, Brahms, Frank, Ravel

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Who remembers Leonid Kogan? Widely acknowledged to be one of the two greatest Soviet violinists, Kogan was nevertheless always under the shadow of David Oistrakh, his slightly older countryman, during his lifetime. Since Kogan's death in 1982, his reputation has been almost completely eclipsed by Oistrakh's. This is, of course, a terrible shame. Kogan was not only arguably Oistrakh's equal as a player, he was wholly his own player. Kogan's avoidance of most vibrato and all portamento coupled with his muscular technique and his emotional concentration made him sui genesis as an artist. Accompanied by his daughter Nina in this 1978 Salzburg Festival Recital, Kogan soars through the clear skies of Beethoven's D major Sonata, Op. 12/1, roars through the raging tempests of Brahms' D minor Sonata, Op. 108, and bores deep into the transcendent lyricism of Franck's A major Sonata with his daughter supporting him in every bar and at every moment. Best yet is the closing Tzigane. With Leonid Kogan's strong bow, intense tone, and flawless intonation, the rhapsodic solo introduction is unbearably thrilling and it only gets better when Nina Kogan enters and they race together through Revel's jumped-up gypsy music to the double bar. Anyone who loves great violin playing will love this disc. And anyone who loves great violin playing and doesn't know Leonid Kogan's playing will be blown away. Orfeo's live at the Salzburg Festival sound is rough, close, and very, very present.

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