Gone too early, the Russian prince of the violin recorded in Paris a memorable performance of a Beethoven concerto.
As a child, young Leonid could not go to sleep without his father Boris, a professional photographer and amateur violinist, coming to play for him. Fascinated by the sound of the instrument, he also wants to play and his father teaches him the rudiments. At the age of ten, he attends the classes at the Moscow Conservatory of Abraham Yampolsky, a disciple of the famous pedagogue Leopold Auer. For him to do so, his parents had to move with him from Ukraine to Moscow. He makes very rapid progress and in 1936, the violinist Jacques Thibaud, on a visit to Moscow, predicts a prodigious future for him.
Thibaud was right. But death, which took Leonid Kogan at the age of fifty-eight in a train accident, prevented him from fulfilling all of his dreams of music. Insatiable, not to say bulimic, Kogan lives several lives: those of a performer of chamber music, a concert violinist (he is able to play as many as three concertos per concert), an explorer of new repertoires (he is the first Soviet violinist to play the concertos of Berg, Barber and Jolivet), a family man (he is married to the sister of Emil Gilels) and of a... car collector!
To live such a life, Kogan, a Jew in the USSR under Stalin, had to overcome many obstacles. His First Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium, with David Oïstrakh and Jacques Thibaud in the Jury, opens doors for him. In 1955, he makes his debut in London and Paris before triumphing in the United States with the Brahms Violin Concerto conducted by Pierre Monteux in Boston: the public give him a ten-minute ovation.
In 1966, Leonid Kogan is in Paris and interprets Beethoven's Concerto for violin and orchestra in D Major with the National Orchestra of the ORTF conducted by Louis de Froment: first of all it is the purity of his sound that appeals, then the extreme elegance of his playing and his contained sensibility. After the Beethovian fresco Kogan follows with a representation of Bach's Partita n°2 in D Minor, offered as an encore to the audience.
A way of measuring the perfect balance attained here by this prince of the violin.
Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra — Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestre de chambre de la RTF, Pierre Capdevielle
Orchestre National de l'ORTF, Francesco Mander (direction) - Georges Pludermacher (piano) - Tasso Janopoulo (piano)
Philarmonia Orchestra, Norman del Mar (conductor) - Ernest Lush (piano) - Georges Pludermacher (piano)
Orchestre de l'ORTF, Jean Fournet (conductor) - Pierre Barbizet (piano)