many Kogan Beethoven Concerto recordings do you need? The
1959 Silvestri is the most widely, internationally, known
and has been available in reissues over the years. The Moscow/Nebolsin
is a less easily encountered artefact and the USSR/Kondrashin
and USSR/Svetlanov usually turn up on Russian reissue programmes.
The later recording directed by his son, Pavel, was made
live in Moscow. There’s now a previously unearthed live recording
with the USSR State TV and Radio Symphony Orchestra under
Gennady Rozhdestvensky on a recent Brilliant ten CD box devoted
to the violinist. But on the face of it a teaming of Kogan
with Kempe looks promising. The recording date of 1956 is
certainly promising as it well predates the years of Kogan’s
announces this as “unpublished” and I’ve certainly not come
across either the concerto or the ancillary performances
here before. But there’s a catch. For once a budget label
owns up to an imperfection on the back of the jewel case;
there’s a “very light drop-out in the first movement of the
Violin Concerto and Leonore III”. Actually there’s a bloody
great drop out in the first movement and one ruinous one
followed quickly by what sounds like a repeated groove, or
tape excision and poor repair, in the second that destroys
all semblance of lyric ease. I guarantee you this; you’ll
be reluctant to play this otherwise splendid performance
again once you know they’re coming up. My tolerance level
for imperfect recordings is very high but these are infuriating
problems. Added to this Archipel – or someone - has cut off
the concert ambience between movements so no sense of continuity
has been preserved there either.
orchestra is on reasonably good form. Wind tuning is not
on the money and Kogan himself very occasionally rushes his
bars in the first movement. Still, he is very close to the
microphone and we can enjoy his charismatic playing. It’s
not an ideal performance, even were it perfectly intact,
but it does preserve an otherwise undocumented meeting between
Kogan and Kempe.
Leonore blip is not as disruptive as those in the Concerto.
There is some untidiness once more but there’s also a sturdiness
that is attractive. The sound however is rather hissy, there
are coughs; there’s a good clarinet principal. The Siegfried
Idyll comes from Rome in 1955. As one might expect Kempe
directs with cool elegance and control, eloquent all the
more for not seeking to make points, simply to unfold.
So I’d better return to
my opening question. Given the state of the market and the
deficiencies of the recorded sound, and despite the cheapness
of the product, how many Kogan Beethoven Concerto performances
do you really need?