Pierre Monteux

Brahms: Violin Concerto; Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3

(CD - Doremi Records #7900)

Review by

Leonid Kogan, along with David Oistrakh, stood as the very definition of the Russian violin school in North America during the 1950s and 1960s. Kogan made his name not only as a brilliant and much sought-after soloist, but also as a member of the venerable piano trio formed by himself, pianist Emil Gilels, and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Like Oistrakh, Kogan possessed an unwaveringly strong technique coupled with an unbridled musical intensity. This Doremi album, Volume One of its kind, features a significant performance for Kogan: his U.S. debut with the Pierre Monteux and the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing Brahms' Violin Concerto. Whether Kogan was seeking to make a strong showing of his technical prowess in his debut concert or whether he simply had too much coffee beforehand is unclear, but his choice of tempos throughout are almost comical. Kogan rockets through the outer movements, towing the poor orchestra behind him. That he could pull off these technical feats is testimony to his technique, but musically it's a bit comical and almost distasteful. The album also features Kogan's performance of the Mozart K. 216 Concerto with the New York Philharmonic and Dimitri Mitropoulos less than one month later. Although the sound quality of this performance is far inferior to the Brahms, Kogan's playing is much more in line with his reputation: well-paced, elegant, and without a hint of trying to be overtly flashy.

blue highlight denotes track pick