Vieuxtemps – 5. Violinkonzert

Henri Vieuxtemps was a nineteenth century violinist and composer. He was born in what was in those years still part of the United Netherlands, but later became Belgium. For violin players he is of great importance, not least because of all the works he wrote for the instrument. This is his fifth violin concerto, and he was not finished: he wrote a total of seven.

The name for this concert is Grétry, after the composer of the opera from which the second movement takes a melody. Since the concert is not particularly long, it is used a lot for competitions. Vieuxtemps also laid the basis for the Russian school of violin playing. He was also the court violinist for Tsar Nicholas I for a while.

Leonid Kogan is seen as the best representative of that particular school. Born in 1924 he won the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1951, still young. He formed a trio with Rostropovich and Emil Gilels and married the latter’s sister. He died of a heart attack in a train ride to Moscow in 1982, aged just 58.

Recordings of Kogan fetch a pretty penny. The wiki page mentions 10.000 on eBay for a 10 inch version of Beethoven’s concerto, published in 1961. On Discogs I found that same record for a bit less, but not much: 7.000. This record is also surprisingly expensive. Usually I don’t go that much for historical recordings, but I have to admit that this one is really worth it. It is well played, with an amazing subtle and sensitive sound.

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