Doremi continue to
mine the depths of historical recordings.
In recent years they have brought to
light a number of fascinating live concert
performances that might have otherwise
been lost to posterity. I have no idea
how they manage to find such a treasure
trove of magnificent music-making, but
their efforts pay off splendidly and
we the listeners are the better for
This disc is a find
indeed, as it is the only extant recording
of Leonid Kogan and Emil Gilels together.
In fact this is a document of the only
time they ever performed together ...
period. I was just over a month old
when this concert occurred back in 1964,
but listening to this recording makes
me long for what it might have been
to have heard these two superb artists
Opening with the fairly
early Op. 12 sonata, Kogan and Gilels
seem a perfect match as they bring off
this light-hearted performance. Balance
between the musicians is superb and
both play with that rather robust abandon
that is almost stereotypical of Russian
players. The glory here and in the other
two works as well is how achingly beautifully
Kogan can make a slow movement. There
is such a richness to his tone, such
a passion in the playing that one is
immediately lost in the spell, forgetting
time and place.
The airy "Spring"
sonata receives an ebullient performance,
full of the kinds of emotional rushes
that the composer himself must have
felt when he was out and about on his
beloved woodlands jaunts. I particularly
loved the all-too-brief but ever wonderful
scherzo. These two polish it off with
such control and ease.
The Kreutzer is a meatier
work all around, and the seriousness
of the performers comes through with
abundance. Both artists get to show
off their considerable techniques, but
bravura for its own sake is kept in
In short, you get a
once-in-a-lifetime portrait of two very
great and even somewhat enigmatic artists
at the top of their form. What a shame
that fate never brought them together
again, but what a gift these performances
are. As is typical of this label, documentation
is scarce. I cannot for the life of
me understand why a company that takes
such pains to find these treasures does
not go the extra mile to provide more
detail about the artists and some program
notes on the music. Then again, these
discs of this kind seem to be marketed
toward connoisseurs who probably know
more than enough about the music already.
Sound quality is excellent; some hacking
from the audience but not enough to
be bothersome. The occasional sound
of a page turn from Gilels adds a sense
of being there to the whole experience.
especially to collector types.
see also review
by Jonathan Woolf